How It Happened

How It Happened

by Michael Koryta


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An FBI investigator must uncover the secrets of his hometown to solve a double murder in this twisty "page turner" that's "perfect summer reading" (Stephen King).

"And that is how it happened. Can we stop now?"

Kimberly Crepeaux is no good, a notorious jailhouse snitch, teen mother, and heroin addict whose petty crimes are well-known to the rural Maine community where she lives. So when she confesses to her role in the brutal murders of Jackie Pelletier and Ian Kelly, the daughter of a well-known local family and her sweetheart, the locals have little reason to believe her story.

Not Rob Barrett, the FBI investigator and interrogator specializing in telling a true confession from a falsehood. He's been circling Kimberly and her conspirators for months, waiting for the right avenue to the truth, and has finally found it. He knows, as strongly as he's known anything, that Kimberly's story-a grisly, harrowing story of a hit and run fueled by dope and cheap beer that becomes a brutal stabbing in cold blood-is how it happened. But one thing remains elusive: where are Jackie and Ian's bodies?

After Barrett stakes his name and reputation on the truth of Kimberly's confession, only to have the bodies turn up 200 miles from where she said they'd be, shot in the back and covered in a different suspect's DNA, the case is quickly closed and Barrett forcibly reassigned. But for Howard Pelletier, the tragedy of his daughter's murder cannot be so tidily swept away. And for Barrett, whose career may already be over, the chance to help a grieving father may be the only one he has left.

HOW IT HAPPENED is a frightening, tension-filled ride into the dark heart of rural America from a writer Stephen King has called "a master" and the New York Times has deemed "impossible to resist."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316293891
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 01/29/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 38,671
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Michael Koryta is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, most recently Rise the Dark. His previous novels--including Last Words, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and So Cold the River--were New York Times notable books, national bestsellers, and have been nominated for numerous awards, including having won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Koryta is a former private investigator and newspaper reporter. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana, and Camden, Maine.

What People are Saying About This

Author-The Cuban Affair - Nelson DeMille

“Michael Koryta is one hell of a writer, and HOW IT HAPPENED is one hell of a murder mystery. It’s a tribute to Koryta’s craftsmanship and skill that the reader knows who done it in the first chapter, but can’t put the book down until the last layer of the onion is peeled away to reveal the truth at the core of this gripping tale…. A remarkable achievement that rises high above the genre.”

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How It Happened 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Angela Houston 4 months ago
I have not read Koryta before, so this was my first novel of his works. I have to say, I think it was a great place to start. I will absolutely read his prior and upcoming works now when I’m in the mood for a twisty crime novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for my honest review. In How It Happened, we start with a recorded confession by Kimmy Crepeaux. She details a grizzly double murder that she's an accomplice to, but she's admittedly not the most respected of witnesses. With a history of substance abuse and false confessions, no one would think twice if Special Agent Rob Barrett chose to move on without taking Kimmy at her word. If anything, his colleagues are dubious of his choice to believe her when she tells him that the reputable Mathias Burke is responsible for the killings...and they'll be given their chance to say I told you so. In this crime novel that takes place in the placid state of Maine, Koryta takes the reader on an account of a crime that has been haunting the community of Port Hope and the families of the deceased. Special Agent Barrett has promised to provide answers, but when things don't go according to plan, he finds himself shut out of the community he once spent his summers at as a youth. What transpires is a battle against his past demons, and a fight for the truth, his reputation, and justice. There are those authors who can depict a setting for you in the most intricate of terms, and Michael Koryta is certainly among them. With every curve of the road, mud-slicked lake, and chilling sea breeze, I could envision Barrett's stomping grounds. Kimmy's confession is the hook of the novel, and the reader is immediately drawn in. I did feel that the first third of the book was a bit slow moving, but it quickened up as I continued to read, particularly in the final third of the book. Once I reached that climactic descent through Koryta's narrative, I couldn't put the book down as I read chapter after suspenseful chapter. There was certainly an extensive amount of either research or experience behind this book (or perhaps both!), but the amount of detail that he included surrounding the setting did slow down the pace a bit for me, however beautifully written. While it makes for cinematic prose, I didn't feel the need to know why roads were named a certain way or little tidbits as such. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional, the plot compelling, and the narrative organized, structured, and clever. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys crime fiction!
vphillips88 6 months ago
A rural community in Maine, Kimberly, a known drug addict, has a story to tell. One that solves the murders of two locals whose bodies were never found. The FBI sends in Barrett, who has ties in this community from the summers he spent here in his youth. He has an unsolved tragedy in his own background, one that haunts him to this day. Kimberly tells her story, who did the murders, and where the bodies can be found, to Agent Barrett. He believes her though many don't. The problem is the bodies are not where she said they were, and Barrett in disgrace is sent to the Montana field office Crime fiction at its best. An unpredictable story with many strange twists and turns. Loved Barrett, who puts everything on the line to prove his belief in Kimberly is not wrong. A crime that hearkens back to an old nemesis of Barretts from those long ago summers. A crime that will tie into other deaths that are perpetuated in Maine and across the country. He is determined to prove his theory about the murders of these two young people, who had been in love, with their whole future ahead of him. He is the rare lawman who cares about the victim, not just the solving orbs case. A quick paced novel, some edge of your seat suspense, and a well told story. Definitely recommend to readers who enjoy well thought out crime fiction.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this one of his better books
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
Inspired by an actual event in the author’s hometown, this novel recounts the ups and downs in the life of Rob Barrett, an FBI specialist in interrogations, who is sent to a little town in Maine years after the disappearance of a man and two women. Barrett finally reaches a witness who confesses to having participated in the murder and disposal of the bodies of a man and a woman in a shallow lake. Unfortunately, when the lake is inspected, the bodies aren’t there. Barrett insists he believes the confession, but the prevailing view is that it is unreliable because the confessor is a known liar and drug addict. Moreover, absence of the bodies where they’re said to be is further proof. Barrett is sent to a remote FBI office in the Midwest in disgrace, but the confession still haunts him. Eventually, he returns to Maine on his own nickel to find the truth, which, of course, is elusive. The story becomes more complex, as he investigates more deeply, and the scope widens. Michael Koryta has written a gripping tale about a grisly murder and cover-ups and subterfuges to hide a variety of motivations as each layer of the story is unveiled. It is a novel describing perseverance and investigative skill. The novel has its origins in a murder investigation which the author covered for his hometown newspaper as a young reporter, and is recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! Excellent descrptions of the characters. Story was to the point and kept you wanting more. Lots of twists. Awesome read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cant wait for his next book
ABookAWeekES More than 1 year ago
"I will not tell you how it happened but it is all wrong." Years ago, I discovered Michael Koryta through his supernatural driven thriller So Cold the River. I instantly devoured his other paranormal suspense novels including The Cypress House and The Ridge. I was especially impressed with the way Koryta allowed his character's development to drive his narratives, even when they were filled with suspense that could have easily dominated the story. When I got the chance to read and review his latest effort How It Happened, I enthusiastically accepted. Rob Barrett is an expert and finding the truth. As an FBI investigator, he is well known for extracting confessions from hard-to-crack suspects. He's recently returned to the rural seaside community that he was raised in to help find the truth behind the brutal murders of two young residents. Barrett's past includes lingering questions about his mother's untimely death years ago, the harsh upbringing by his verbally and emotionally abusive grandfather, and an unwavering commitment to discovering the truth. Kimberly Crepeaux is not known for her honesty. With a rap sheet of teenage pregnancy, heroin addiction, and numerous stints in prison, her reputation around town couldn't be worse. It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows her when she is arrested again, but what she has to say this time stops everyone in their tracks. Kimberly tells the story of her involvement in the gruesome murders of the two young townspeople. A night of drug fueled joy riding turned dark when their car stuck a girl. Terrified of the consequences of their actions, the group brutally killed the car-stuck girl and her boyfriend and dumped their bodies in a nearby pond. Despite her troubled reputation, Barrett believes Kimberly when she describes that night. She speaks with a sincerity or regret and shock at her actions. There is a haunted glimmer of anguish behind her tired eyes. Barrett is quick to accept the confession as fact and hinge the investigation and his entire career upon it. This is the break the case needed. This is the source of closure to two grieving families. This is how it happened. But suddenly it isn't. The pond is searched and the bodies are not there. An anonymous tip quickly leads to the discovery of the bodies some 200 miles away. Desperate to save his professional reputation and ease the disappointment of his home town, Barrett rallies to find the truth of how it happened. On first glance, How It Happened is vastly different from the previous novels by Koryta. Gone are the supernatural elements that permeated those earlier works. Instead the characters in this novel are haunted by events that are all too real. I was immediately intrigued by the gruesome confession that Kimberly provides. The novel opens with her words, providing a chilling prelude to the dark and suspenseful events that follow. By setting the novel in Barrett's home town, Koryta allows the character to gain layers of depth from interactions with people from his past and flashbacks to his childhood. The novel deftly layers the mystery with contemplations on grief, addiction, reputation, and small town relationships. How It Happened is destined to be a must-read this summer, and serves as a legacy cementing achievement in Koryta's already stellar career.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
How It Happened by Michael Koryta is a highly recommended murder mystery. The novel opens in Port Hope, Maine, with Kimmie Crepeaux confessing to Rob Barrett, an FBI investigator and interrogation specialist, how Jackie Pelletier and Ian Kelly died and where to find their bodies. She also names the killer - local respected caretaker Mathias Burke. Kimmie claims Mathias forced her and her friend Cass Odom to assist him. Kimmie tells Barrett everything that happened in exact details. The problem is Cass is dead from an overdose and the bodies can't be found where Kimmie swears they should be found. All of this increasingly points to her unreliability as a witness. Kimmie is a heroin addict who already has a reputation for committing petty crimes. As the search for the bodies continues, Barrett's reputation is on the line. He spent summers in Port Hope with his grandfather, and apparently had an antagonistic relationship with the suspect Mathias Burk. Barrett believes Kimmie, but when all the evidence points to her lying, his reputation and career suffer. However, Jackie Pelletier's father, Howard, still wants answers and pleads with Barrett to resume his investigation. In How It Happened Koryta has written a compelling psychological study and gripping murder mystery. This is a engrossing plot populated by well-developed characters. The quality of the writing is great; Koryta delivers expressive prose, and an unpredictable, intricate plot full of dark secrets. The character development is amazing. These are all wounded, flawed individuals who are struggling with their own secret inner turmoil and their personal backgrounds. This would be an excellent page-turning choice for summer reading. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Little, Brown and Company via Netgalley.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This book begins with Kimberly Crepeaux, a heroin addict and jailhouse snitch, telling a highly seeming probable story of the death of a young couple. At first, when I was reading this very first part, I wasn't sure what was going on. However, I soon figured out it was the junkie's testimony. And away, the book went. This book was outstanding! I think it is Mr. Koryta's best book yet. You just know that the murder is solved very early in the book, but your questioning it. How can the author tell you "what happened" so early it in the book? How could Barrett get it so wrong? Or did he? Hence, the title "How it Happened". That was the cray, cray part. My mind came up with so many scenarios. Yes, they were mostly wrong, but who wants to guess it right? And when it all came out . . . turns out that I had one thing right, but was not even in the same country as to how all of it happened. I spent my Mother's Day deeply absorbed in this thrill ride and loved every minute of it! Huge thanks to Little, Brown and Company and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.