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Those Who Wish Me Dead

When 13-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

Those Who Wish Me Dead has been optioned for film by 20th Century Fox in conjunction with Film Rites and producers Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch. Zaillian has been nominated for four Academy Awards, and among his many successes as a screenwriter, director and producer are Schindler’s ListThe Girl with the Dragon TattooMoneyballGangs of New York, and A Civil Action. Supervising the project for Fox will be Mark Roybal, whose credits as an executive producer include No County for Old Men and Moonrise Kingdom, among others.

Audio Excerpt


"Koryta, a widely praised veteran of cross-genre tales, has upped his game with this stand-alone's seamless blend of western-wilderness thriller and mainstream crime fiction, with a prickly dab of horror." Starred Review


"The summer of 2014 brings Those Who Wish Me Dead, a lean, propulsive action-adventure thriller with a raging forest fire as its backdrop and with much more finesse than that description might suggest. The ingenious tricks and conversational wit of Those Who Wish Me Dead don't usually come with this territory....Attitude is one of Mr. Koryta's strongest attributes. He barges through this story with utter confidence, which makes its bravado impossible to resist."

—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Michael Koryta is a fearless stylist...a heart-thumping backwoods adventure that sends two creatively sadistic killers into Montana's Beartooth Mountains, where they spark a monster forest fire to flush out the only witness to their crimes...Koryta rigs his tripwire plot with all sorts of unpredictable characters and unforeseen events, including a "flint-and-steel" electrical storm that will make your hair stand on end. There are any number of hunting parties combing the burning woods for Jace, from the Blackwell brothers to two determined women riding an injured horse. But sitting here, heart in mouth, it sure looks as if that raging forest fire will outrun them all."

—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

"If you want an elegantly written, taut thriller with an amazing sense of place, then look no further.... It's a well-written book..., but it's also a cracking page-turner and a truly immersive experience."

—Madhulika Sikka, NPR Books

"[A] heartpounder."


"[A] taut novel brimming with violence, terror, and (just as scary) the perils of growing up."

—O, The Oprah Magazine

"Not only does its plot sizzle with one shocking turn after another; it also involves a massive forest fire so vividly described you almost expect the edges of the pages to be scorched...Koryta builds the book's suspense with impressive skill, shifting among different characters' points of view to keep the reader constantly on edge."

—Tampa Bay Times

"Michael Koryta's latest novel skillfully melds a thrilling adventure story set against the Montana wilderness with a poignant coming-of-age story...Koryta's vivid Montana landscape scenes pulsate with the smells and sounds of the great outdoors. His three-dimensional characters realistically explore the choices they are forced to make as the author keeps the plot twisting with believable turns."

—Oline Cogdill, Associated Press

"I was reminded of the best of John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy while reading these pages, but most of all, I was reminded of Koryta, who continually matches and exceeds the expectations that he himself creates with the release of each new book."

—Book Reporter

"It's an eerie setting with palpable threats at every turn, one that plays out somewhere between Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and David Mamet's screenplay for The Edge."

—Clayton Moore, Kirkus Reviews

"Stuck in the city over the long weekend? Read this terrific chase thriller set in a dense forest, and be relieved that you're saved from nature's wrath. A young boy who has seen a savage crime is placed in witness protection at a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The men who want to kill him are clever hunters. The only thing between the boy and a dreadful death are the owners of the wilderness camp and their skills, plus the eagle eye of a forest-fire spotter. This one has a thrill a page."

—Margaret Cannon, Toronto Globe and Mail

"More than outstanding, this book will have you jumping from one chapter to another as the fire races across the mountains, as Jace and Hannah try to survive, and while Ethan tries to keep both killers away from Jace...This thriller had me glued to the words, not wanting to do anything else but finish this book. Koryta pens a novel that will leave you gasping along with the characters.This is excellent and one I recommend. Absolutely without a doubt."

—Suspense Magazine

"Outstanding in every way, and a guaranteed thriller-of-the-year...Stephen King would be proud of the set up, Cormac McCarthy would be proud of the writing, and I would be proud of the action. Don't you dare miss it."

—Lee Child, #1 bestselling author of NEVER GO BACK

"Wow! An absolutely first-rate novel. More than just an edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline-fueled story of life and death and survival in the Montana wilderness. Those Who Wish Me Dead is what every reader hopes for each time they start a book. A smart, surprising, and emotionally engaging experience that simply does not let up. Ever!"

—Christopher Reich, New York Times bestselling author of RULES OF BETRAYAL

"Absolutely breathtaking, nail-biting, and edge-of-your-seat. Michael Koryta is a master at maintaining suspense and a hell of a good writer. Those Who Wish Me Dead is one of the best chase-and-escape novels you'll read this year—or any other year. The pace never lets up."

—Nelson DeMille, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Having joined the ranks of the very best thriller writers with his small-town masterpiece, The Prophet, Koryta matches that effort with a book of sometimes-unbearable tension...Also crucial to its success is Koryta's mastery of the beautiful but threatening setting, including a mountain fire's ability to electrify the ground, radiate a lethal force field—and create otherworldly light shows. Summer reading doesn't get better than this." Starred Review


"Warning: Michael Koryta's wonderful, riveting, and harrowing Those Who Wish Me Dead may just move you to tears. Enjoy at your own risk."

—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Michael Koryta is that rare author who is at once a compelling storyteller and a fantastic writer. From the first sentence of Those Who Wish Me Dead, you'll be under his spell. His characters are living, breathing people you'll care about; his setting is a place you'll visit and stay - long after you've decided to leave because you're scared. You can't leave; you're trapped. There are too many nerve-jangling, beautifully written, razor-sharp moments and you won't want to miss a single one. This is an absolute sizzler."

—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of IN THE BLOOD

"This book captured me. Here are two bad guys so bad, so well drawn, that I wanted to avert my eyes—these guys are powerfully creepy and horribly effective—but I didn't want to miss a beat of this sharp thriller. This is a smart big book with what are called twists and turns, but which are really terrific surprises in every deepening layer. Young Jace's journey to survive is a gripping rush. I know not to run in the woods but I wanted to tell him: run, woods or not, just run!"

—Ron Carlson, award-winning author of FIVE SKIES and THE SIGNAL

"Michael Koryta's Those Who Wish Me Dead is an absolutely thrilling read. I read most of it with my breath held, occasionally exhaling to ask myself, 'What will happen next?' I highly recommend it."

—Kevin Powers, National Book Award Finalist and author of THE YELLOW BIRDS

"Reading Michael Koryta is like stepping into fast water. You don't know where the current will take you, only that it's strong and deep and likely to sweep you away. That's what the best fiction does, and Koryta does it better than just about anyone else."

—John Hart, New York Times bestselling author of IRON HOUSE

"Michael Koryta isn't just one of the finest authors working in the crime genre today. He's simply one of today's finest authors, period. His stories are taut, compelling, and beautifully rendered. His understanding of human nature—the good, the evil, and all the gray between—is masterful. Those Who Wish Me Dead is Koryta at his best."

—William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author ORDINARY GRACE

"Those Who Wish Me Dead is beautifully written, perfectly paced, expertly structured, and simply unputdownable. Koryta is an absolute master."

—Deon Meyer, International bestselling author of SEVEN HOURS

"Koryta (The Prophet) opens his latest thriller with a very likeable Jace Wilson witnessing a brutal murder committed by assassins—and brothers—Jack and Patrick Blackwell. Instead of being placed in the regular witness protection program, the boy is hidden in a Montana wilderness survival camp for troubled teens, run by Ethan and Alison Serbin. Jace and Ethan are soon putting their outdoor skills to the test as they are hunted down by the Blackwell brothers. Allison and a former firefighter named Hannah round out the cast of characters in this fast-paced, terrifically entertaining novel. VERDICT The Blackwell brothers' devious methods, the fire raging across the mountains, and the actions of those trying to save Jace will keep readers up well into the night. With a national author tour and movie rights already sold, this, Koryta's tenth novel, could be the one that brings the talented writer into the mainstream." Starred Review

—Library Journal

"Pulse-pounding," "edge-of-your-seat," "unputdownable"—these cliches are all on the no-no list for book reviewers, but what's a reviewer to do when those are the words that best describe a novel? Well, she gets off her literary high horse. This pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat, unputdownable thriller is about Jace, the teenage witness to a crime; the evil brothers hellbent on stopping him from talking; and their crazy cat-and-mouse game that plays out in the Montana backwoods."

—Reader’s Digest