Little, Brown, and Company, 2011, 357 pages
In an isolated stretch of Eastern Kentucky, on a hilltop known as Blade Ridge, stands a lighthouse that illuminates nothing but the surrounding woods. For years the lighthouse has been considered no more than an eccentric local landmark - until its builder is found dead at the top of the light, and his belongings reveal a troubling local history.
For Deputy Sheriff Kevin Kimble, the lighthouse-keeper's death is disturbing and personal. Years ago Kimble was shot while on duty. Somehow the death suggests a connection between the lighthouse and the most terrifying moment of his life.
Audrey Clark is in the midst of moving her large-cat sanctuary onto land adjacent to the lighthouse. Sixty-seven tigers, lions, and leopards and one legendary black panther are about to have a new home there. Her husband, the sanctuary's founder, died scouting the new property, and Audrey is determined to see his vision through.
As strange occurrences multiply at the Ridge, the animals grow ever more restless, and Kimble and Audrey try to understand what evil forces are moving through this ancient landscape, just past the divide between dark and light.
Michael Koryta gets compared with Dean Koontz, and now I see why. This book is a fairly standard supernatural thriller, but it was well-executed, with the "rules" of the supernatural phenomena explained and making sense of all the events. Technically I guess telling you that the Big Reveal is supernatural in nature is a spoiler, but it's very heavily hinted at early on, and pretty obvious long before it's spelled out. It also features a big cat rescue sanctuary, like Keepers of the Wild, which is one of my favorite charities.
The big cat sanctuary consists of lions and tigers, leopards and ocelots, and a mysterious black panther. It was just moved into the area, when the husband of the woman running it died tragically. Now she is forced to keep it running with the help of two assistants, and unfortunately the local crank, an old drunk who built a lighthouse at the top of the ridge - many miles from the ocean - is causing trouble for them, telling them they and their cats don't belong here.
The other main character is Sheriff Kimble, who is in love with a woman who's serving time for shooting him. Actually, she's serving time for shooting her abusive husband, but she "accidentally" shot Kimble as well. As the story unfolds, it turns out it wasn't such an accident, but it had something to do with spooky woods around the ridge where the lighthouse and the cat sanctuary are located.
Kimble, a journalist whose parents died on the ridge when he was a kid, and the owner of the cat sanctuary all get dragged into the sinister mystery of why so many deaths have happened there and what is causing all the supernatural heebie-jeebies. Naturally, the cats play a part in the story, and Koryta makes them characters as well.
I liked this story, which involves people making choices, good and bad, dealing with Big Bads, and heroic sacrifices. Nothing special in the genre, but suitable for fans of supernatural thrillers who don't want an overdose of horror or gore.
My complete list of book reviews.