Monday, August 2, 2010

So Cold the River

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta (NY: Little, Brown, 2010).

Eric Shaw is down on his luck. He failed as a cinematographer in LA so he moved to Chicago and started creating family videos. His speciality is funeral memorials. He uses his intuition to select photographs and clips that represent the lives of the deceased, sometimes drawing gasps for spectators. That's why Alyssa Bradford came to him with a special request: create a biography of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, who is about to die. She wants Shaw to travel to French Lick, Indiana, home of the famous mineral water spas that had their glory days before the Great Depression, but had recently been renovated. Bradford's mysterious roots are there--and she gives him an old bottle of the water--Bradford's only memento of his childhood.

It seems like an interesting assignment--maybe even the start of something big, so Shaw accepts the task and the generous payment. Almost immediately the work gets complicated, drawing Shaw into a complicated family mystery with supernatural elements that explode when past and present collide!

This is a super thrilling, excellent read, and it's nearly impossible to put down, so be sure to block out time for reading. Koryta creates wonderful characters and a creepy, suspenseful atmosphere that just keeps building up. Since I live in Indiana and have visited the area described, I found the novel that much more enjoyable, especially the small town establishments and people. If you haven't been to French Lick, you'll probably want to go after you read this book, just to see the beautiful West Baden resort. Koryta lovingly describes the wondrous splendor of the dome and grounds of the resort and weaves the details to marvelous effect into his story.

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