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Book Nook: How It Happened, by Michael Koryta

Vick Mickunas' interview with Michael Koryta

When Michael Koryta was a teenager in Bloomington, Indiana an abduction and homicide took place just down the road from where he was living. A young woman had been riding her bicycle in the area when she vanished without a trace. The police were baffled by the crime. Later on a confession was made by someone who claimed to have been involved in her abduction. When they attempted to verify the details of that confession in the hope of locating the victim they discovered that the confession had been spurious. It wasn't true.

As Kortya went on to become a best-selling crime novelist the details of that true crime he recalled from his youth stayed with him. Eventually it inspired him to write a novel based upon the premise of a false confession. Koryta decided to set this mystery novel, "How It Happened," in coastal Maine.


As the story opens a young couple has vanished. Foul play is suspected. An FBI agent is called in to investigate and he ends up questioning a young woman who claims she was involved in that couple's disappearance. Rob Barrett specializes in interrogations for the FBI and he believes this woman's confession. He also has a personal connection to the area, as a youth he used to spend his summers in the little coastal fishing community where these crimes took place.

He organizes what becomes a costly search effort to locate the missing couple. Barrett is an expert and he believes this woman's confession was credible. She gave him all sorts of precise details. He chooses to overlook the fact that she's a bit on the shady side, a known drug abuser with a poor reputation. The search turns into an embarrassing fiasco. They don't turn up anything.

At this point Agent Barrett is told that he needs to pull back from the case. He has been making too many mistakes. Perhaps this case is too personal? I'll leave it readers to discover the twists and turns that Michael Koryta employs in this dazzling thriller. Kortya is one writer to watch.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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