So Cold the River

So Cold the River

by Michael Koryta


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It started with a beautiful woman and a challenge. As a gift for her husband, Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose past is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job even though there are few clues to the man's past—just the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life.

In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary history—a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once mingled, and hot springs whose miraculous mineral water cured everything from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has been restored to its former grandeur just in time for Eric's stay.

Just hours after his arrival, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase and draw Eric deeper into the town's dark history. He discovers that something besides the hotel has been restored—a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain its lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense with a racing, unstoppable current.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316053648
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 01/06/2011
Pages: 508
Sales rank: 103,858
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Michael Koryta is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels, most recently If She Wakes. 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.

Read an Excerpt

So Cold the River

By Koryta, Michael

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2010 Koryta, Michael
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316053631

Part One



YOU LOOKED FOR THE artifacts of their ambition. That was what a sociology professor had said one day in a freshman seminar, and Eric Shaw had liked something about the phrase, wrote it and only it in a notebook that would soon be forgotten and then discarded. Artifacts of their ambition. Only through study of those things could you truly understand people long departed. General artifacts could be overanalyzed, layered with undue importance. It was critical to find things that indicated ambitions and aspirations, that tired bit about hopes and dreams. The reality of someone’s heart lay in the objects of their desires. Whether those things were achieved did not matter nearly so much as what they had been.

The phrase returned to Eric almost two decades later as he prepared a video montage for a dead woman’s memorial service. Video life portraits, that’s what he called them, an attempt to lend some credibility to what was essentially a glorified slide show. There’d been a time when neither Eric nor anyone who knew him would have been able to believe this sort of career lay ahead for him. He still had trouble believing it, in fact. You could live a life and never comprehend exactly how you found yourself in it. Hell of a thing.

If he were fresh out of film school, he might have been able to convince himself that this was merely part of the artist’s struggle, a way to pay the bills before that first big break. Truth was, it had been twelve years since Eric claimed his film school’s highest honor, twelve years. Two years since he’d moved to Chicago to escape the train wreck of his time in L.A.

During his peak, thirty years old and landing bigger jobs with regularity, his cinematography had been publicly praised by one of the most successful movie directors in the world. Now Eric made videos for graduations and weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. And funerals. Lots of funerals. That had somehow become his niche. Word of mouth sustained a business like his, and the word of mouth about Eric seemed to focus on funerals. His clients were generally pleased by his videos, but the funeral parties were elated. Maybe on some subconscious level he was more motivated when his work concerned the dead. There was a greater burden of responsibility there. Truth be told, he operated more instinctively when he prepared a memorial video than when he did anything else. There seemed to be a muse working then, some innate guiding sense that was almost always right.

Today, standing outside a suburban funeral parlor with a service about to commence, he felt an unusual sense of anticipation. He’d spent all of the previous day—fifteen hours straight—preparing this piece, a rush job for the family of a forty-four-year-old woman who’d been killed in a car accident on the Dan Ryan Expressway. They’d turned over photo albums and scrapbooks and select keepsakes, and he’d gotten to work arranging images and creating a sound track. He took pictures of pictures and blended those with home video clips and then rolled it all together and put it to music and tried to give some sense of a life. Generally the crowd would weep and occasionally they would laugh and always they would murmur and shake their heads at forgotten moments and treasured memories. Then they’d take Eric’s hand and thank him and marvel at how he’d gotten it just right.

Eric didn’t always attend the services, but Eve Harrelson’s family had asked him to do so today and he was glad to say yes. He wanted to see the audience reaction to this one.

It had started the previous day in his apartment on Dearborn as he was sitting on the floor, his back against the couch and the collection of Eve Harrelson’s personal effects surrounding him, sorting and studying and selecting. At some point in that process, the old phrase came back to him, the artifacts of their ambition, and he’d thought again that it had a nice sound. Then, with the phrase as a tepid motivator, he’d gone back through an already reviewed stack of photographs, thinking that he had to find some hint of Eve Harrelson’s dreams.

The photographs were the monotonous sort, really—everybody posed and smiling too big or trying too hard to look carefree and indifferent. In fact, the entire Harrelson collection was bland. They’d been a photo family, not a video family, and that was a bad start. Video cameras gave you motion and voice and spirit. You could create the same sense with still photographs, but it was harder, certainly, and the Harrelson albums weren’t promising.

He’d been planning to focus the presentation around Eve’s children—a counterintuitive move but one he thought would work well. The children were her legacy, after all, guaranteed to strike a chord with family and friends. But as he sorted through the stack of loose photographs, he stopped abruptly on a picture of a red cottage. There was no person in the shot, just an A-frame cottage painted a deep burgundy. The windows were bathed in shadow, nothing of the interior visible. Pine trees bordered it on both sides, but the framing was so tight there was no clear indication of what else was nearby. As he stared at the picture, Eric became convinced that the cottage faced a lake. There was nothing to suggest that, but he was sure of it. It was on a lake, and if you could expand the frame, you’d see there were autumn leaves bursting into color beyond the pines, their shades reflecting on the surface of choppy, wind-blown water.

This place had mattered to Eve Harrelson. Mattered deeply. The longer he held the photograph, the stronger that conviction grew. He felt a prickle along his arms and at the base of his neck and thought, She made love here. And not to her husband.

It was a crazy idea. He pushed the picture back into the stack and moved on and later, after going through several hundred photographs, confirmed that there was only one of the cottage. Clearly, the place hadn’t been that special; you didn’t take just one picture of a place that you loved.

Nine hours of frustration later, nothing about the project coming together the way he wanted, Eric found the photo back in his hand, the same deep certainty in his brain. The cottage was special. The cottage was sacred. And so he included it, this lone shot of an empty building, worked it into the mix and felt the whole presentation come together as if the photograph were the keystone.

Now it was time to play the video, the first time anyone from the family would see it, and while Eric told himself his curiosity was general—you always wanted to know what your clients thought of your work—in the back of his mind it came down to just one photograph.

He entered the room ten minutes before the service was to begin, took his place in the back beside the DVD player and projector. Thanks to a Xanax and an Inderal, he felt mellow and detached. He’d assured his new doctor that he needed the prescriptions only because of a general sense of stress since Claire left, but the truth was he took the pills anytime he had to show his work. Professional nerves, he liked to think. Too bad he hadn’t had such nerves back when he’d made real films. It was the ever-present sense of failure that made the pills necessary, the cold touch of shame.

Eve Harrelson’s husband, Blake, a stern-faced man with thick dark hair and bifocals, took the podium first. The couple’s children sat in the front row. Eric tried not to focus on them. He was never comfortable putting together a piece like this when there were children to watch it.

Blake Harrelson said a few words of thanks to those in attendance, and then announced that they would begin with a short tribute film. He did not name Eric or even indicate him, just nodded at a man by the light switch when he stepped aside.

Showtime, Eric thought as the lights went off, and he pressed play. The projector had already been focused and adjusted, and the screen filled with a close-up of Eve and her children. He’d opened with some lighthearted shots—that was always the way to go at a heavy event like this—and the accompanying music immediately got a few titters of appreciative laughter. Amidst the handful of favorite CDs her family had provided, Eric had found a recording of Eve playing the piano while her daughter sang for some music recital, the timing off from the beginning and getting worse, and in the middle you could hear them both fighting laughter.

It went on like that for a few minutes, scattered laughter and some tears and a few shoulder squeezes with whispered words of comfort. Eric stood and watched and silently thanked whatever chemist had come up with the calming drugs in his bloodstream. If there was a more intense sort of pressure than watching a grieving group like this take in your film, he couldn’t imagine what it was. Oh, wait, yes he could—making a real film. That had been pressure, too. And he’d folded under it.

The cottage shot was six minutes and ten seconds into the nine-minute piece. He’d kept most pictures in the frame for no more than five seconds, but he’d given the cottage twice that. That’s how curious he was for the reaction.

The song changed a few seconds before the cottage appeared, cut from an upbeat Queen number—Eve Harrelson’s favorite band—to Ryan Adams covering the Oasis song “Wonderwall.” The family had given Eric the Oasis album, another of Eve’s favorites, but he’d replaced their version with the Adams cover during his final edit. It was slower, sadder, more haunting. It was right.

For the first few seconds he could detect no reaction. He stood scanning the crowd and saw no real interest in their faces, only patience or, in a few cases, confusion. Then, just before the picture changed, his eyes fell on a blond woman in a black dress at the end of the third row. She’d turned completely around and was staring back into the harsh light of the projector, searching for him. Something in her gaze made him shift to the side, behind the light. The frame changed and the music went with it and still she stared. Then the man beside her said something and touched her arm and she turned back to the screen, turned reluctantly. Eric let out his breath, felt that tightness in his neck again. He wasn’t crazy. There was something about that picture.

He was hardly aware of the rest of the film. When it ended, he disconnected the equipment and packed up to leave. He’d never done that before—he always waited respectfully for the conclusion of the service and then spoke to the family—but today he just wanted out, wanted back into the sunlight and fresh air and away from that woman with the black dress and the intense stare.

He’d slipped out of the double doors with the projector in his arms and was headed through the foyer and toward the exit when a voice from behind him said, “Why did you use that picture?”

It was her. The blond woman in black. He turned to face her, caught a blast of that stare again, able now to see that it came from intense blue eyes.

“The cottage?”

“Yes. Why did you use it?”

He wet his lips, shifted the weight of the projector. “I’m not really sure.”

“Please don’t lie to me. Who told you to use it?”

“No one.”

“I want to know who told you to use it!” Her voice a hiss.

“Nobody said a word to me about that picture. I assumed people would think I was crazy for putting it up there. It’s just a house.”

“If it’s just a house,” she said, “then why did you want to include it?”

This was Eve Harrelson’s younger sister, he realized. Her name was Alyssa Bradford now, and she was in several of the photographs he’d used. Back in the main room someone was speaking, offering tribute to Eve, but this woman did not seem to care in the least. All of her attention was on him.

“It felt special,” he said. “I can’t explain it any better than that. Sometimes I just get a sense. It was the only picture of the place, and there were no people in it. I thought that was unusual. The longer I looked at it… I don’t know, I just thought it belonged. I’m sorry if it offended you.”

“No. It’s not that.”

It was quiet for a moment, both of them standing outside while the service continued inside.

“What was that place?” he said. “And why are you the only one who reacted?”

She looked over her shoulder then, as if making sure the doors were closed.

“My sister had an affair,” she said softly, and Eric felt something cold and spidery work through his chest. “I’m the only person who knows. At least that’s what she told me. It was with a man she dated in college and during a rough time she had with Blake…. He’s a bastard, I’ll never forgive him for some of the things he did, and I think she should have left him. Our parents were divorced, though, and it was an ugly divorce, and she didn’t want to do that to her kids.”

This sort of disclosure wasn’t all that uncommon. Eric had grown used to family members sharing more than seemed prudent. Grief sent secrets spilling past the old restraints, and it was easier to do with a stranger sometimes. Maybe every time.

“That cottage is in Michigan,” she said. “Some little lake in the Upper Peninsula. She spent a week there with this man, and then she came back, and she never saw him again. It was the children, you know, they were all that kept her. She was in love with him, though. I know that.”

What could he say to that? Eric shifted the projector again, didn’t speak.

“She didn’t keep any pictures of him,” Alyssa Bradford said, and there were tears in her eyes now. “Tore apart the photo albums she had from college, too, and burned every picture he was in. Not out of anger, but because she had to if she was going to stay. I was with her when she burned them, and she kept that one, that single shot, because there was nobody in it. That’s all she kept to remember him.”

“It just seemed to belong,” Eric said again.

“And that song,” she said, her eyes piercing again after she’d blinked the tears back. “How on earth did you select that song?”

They made love to it, he thought, probably for the first time, or if not that, then certainly for the best time, the one that she remembered longest, the one that she remembered not long before she died. They made love to that song and he pulled her hair and she leaned her head back and moaned in his ear and afterward they lay together and listened to the wind howl around that cottage with the deep red paint. It was warm and windy and they thought that it would rain soon. They were sure of it.

The woman was staring at him, this woman who was the only person alive who knew of her dead sister’s affair, of the week she’d spent in that cottage. The only person alive other than the lover, at least. And now Eric. He looked back into her eyes, and he shrugged.

“It just felt right, that’s all. I try to match the music to the mood.”

And he did, on every project. That much was true. Everything else, that strange but absolute sense of the importance of the song, couldn’t possibly be more than trickery of the mind. Any other notion was absurd. So very absurd.

Eve Harrelson’s sister gave him a hundred-dollar bill before she left to return to the service, a fresh wave of tears cresting in her eyes. Eric wasn’t sure if it was a tip or a bribe for silence, and he didn’t ask. Once his equipment was packed up and he was sitting in the driver’s seat of the Acura MDX that Claire had paid for, he transferred the bill from his pocket to his wallet. He tried not to notice that his hands were shaking.


Excerpted from So Cold the River by Koryta, Michael Copyright © 2010 by Koryta, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Ridley Pearson

This diabolical novel, laid out in simple but eloquent prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, heralds a changing of the guard. I have seen the future of 'The Best Mystery Writer in America' and its name is Michael Koryta.

George Pelecanos

Superb writing and storytelling from Michael Koryta...Envy the Night represents his best work to date.

Joe R. Lansdale

"So Cold the River is a great story, but what held me was the lean, clean prose and the sharp presentation of scenes and dialogue. Michael Koryta is a good story teller and a wonderful stylist.

Michael Connelly

"This book builds like a summer storm. Beautiful to watch until it shakes the house and knocks out the lights, leaving you alone in the dark. Another masterful work from Michael Koryta, SO COLD THE RIVER is guaranteed to put the cold finger down your spine.

Dennis Lehane

"An icy, terrifying winner. So Cold the River puts an October chill in your blood by the end of the first chapter. It's not much longer before you've turned on all the lights and rechecked all the window locks. Few novelists warrant mention alongside Stephen King or Peter Straub. Michael Koryta, however, earns comparison to both.

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So Cold the River 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
alexia561 More than 1 year ago
Not exactly sure how I would classify this book. The major bookstores seem to be shoehorning this into the horror realm. It doesn't read like the typical horror story to me, although there is evil. And while it is a thrilling story, it's not exactly what you would call a thriller. Not fantasy, as while there's a magical element to it, there are no wizards or werewolves or unicorns to be found. Think I'm going to go with the broad generalization of speculative fiction. While I understand why they chose horror, I think it's a mistake as readers who would love this book may never see it if they don't normally read horror. This was a really engaging story! The main character is Eric Shaw, a former hotshot filmmaker who is now producing video montages for weddings and funerals. We gradually learn how he wound up so far from Hollywood and estranged from his wife, as he begins work on a documentary for his latest client. Eric runs into roadblocks almost immediately, as it seems that the Campbell Bradford who once ruled over the town is not Alyssa's father-in-law. Could there be two Campbell Bradfords? From the same town? Doesn't seem likely, but things just get stranger from there. With the help of Kellen Cage, a student working on his doctorate thesis, and Anne McKinney, an older woman who remembers the town as it once was, Eric tries to solve the mystery of Campbell Bradford and his strange antique bottle of Pluto Mineral Water. Why is the bottle so cold, even after sitting in a warm room? Does it really have the power to cause visions? Let's just say that this story gives a whole new twist to the advice: don't drink the water! Gave this one a 4/5 rating as I really enjoyed it. The writing is excellent, and Koryta masterfully weaves the horror, mystery, and thriller aspects of the story together into an exciting and surprising conclusion! Have to say that while I predicted how the story would end, I was happy to be proved wrong. I thought it was original and clever and definitely worth reading!
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Eric Shaw, a dejected Hollywood cameraman, is back at home in Chicago, sans wife and now makes vignettes for memorial services. Then he gets the change to do a documentary of the one Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire on his death bed who ran away from his home town when he was a kid. Eric goes to the town and learns of its glorious past and tangles with a few locals. He also starts having these visions that become more and more disturbing to him, yet he wants to learn the truth of what it all means. Michael Koryta takes a real place with a real history and blends in a horrifying and mysterious ghost story that just thrilled me to the bone. I loved how he used the history of this hotel, it'd demise and resurrection and incorporated into his novel. It makes me want to visit.
Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
Eric Shaw is an aspiring film maker in Chicago who makes memorial films for funerals. After one such effort he is approached by a woman who wants him to make a memorial to her father-in-law who is in a coma. Very little is known about her father-in-law's life and she wants Eric to go to the town in Indiana where he lived before Chicago. She gives Eric an old bottle of mineral water (called Pluto Water) that the old man had brought with him from Indiana in his youth. Eric insists that he first visit her father-in-law (Campbell Bradford) in the hospital to get a sense of the man and she reluctantly agrees. When Eric, sees her father-in-law he starts to film him. Each time Eric looks at him through the camera lens, he appears to wake up and talk to Eric. When he looks at him away from the camera, he appears to still be in the coma. Eric shows him the bottle of Pluto water and he gets scared. Eric goes to the town in Indiana and there is a big hotel in the middle of nowhere in the town. The hotel is famous for its mineral springs, the same springs that supposedly are in the bottle of Pluto Water. Of course Eric is tempted to drink the bottle and when he does he becomes incredibly ill after which he starts seeing visions, apparently from the past. The book references the hotel as something out of "The Shining" and the book seems to morph into another version of that very movie. There is another Campbell Bradford that lived in the town in the 1920's and apparently Eric is seeing visions of that Campbell. There is one living decendent of that Campbell Bradford (Josiah) who also seems to be having visions of Campbell. Eric meets another man (Kellen) who is working on a biographical story of an African American that ran a small hotel at the same time as Campbell Bradford was in town in the 1920's. The two become friends and try to share information. The two have a couple of run-ins with Josiah who turns out to be very "nasty" and not interested in sharing any info on his great grandfather. Meanwhile Eric is addicted to the bottle of Pluto Water and the bottle does weird things such as stay cold all the time. The more he drinks, the more lifelike his visions of the past. The book was a fairly good read but the last third of the book leaves a lot to be desired and I would have rated the book a full five stars if the end of the book had been better.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
It started with a beautiful woman and a challenge. As a gift for her husband, Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose past is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job even though there are few clues to the man's past--just the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life. In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary history--a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once mingled, and hot springs whose miraculous mineral water cured everything from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has been restored to its former grandeur just in time for Eric's stay. Just hours after his arrival, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase and draw Eric deeper into the town's dark history. He discovers that something besides the hotel has been restored--a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain its lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense with a racing, unstoppable current. My Review: In So Cold The River by Michael Koryta, we find ourselves completely lost in the history of the Bradford family and it's ties to the famed West Baden Resort Hotel in Indiana. It's been completely restored to its former glory but something sinister lies within the mineral springs that are being pumped into the hotel from an underground river. It's this same water that Eric finds himself in possession of when Alyssa Bradford hires him to complete a documentary on her family. She hands him a green glass bottle that despite where you place it, it remains freezing cold to the touch even in direct sunlight. Something beckons to Eric from within the bottle of water, one sip couldn't hurt could it? You'll soon find out upon journeying into this wonderful fiction of mystery and suspense. I received this book compliments of Hachette Book Groups and found this to be worthy of the greats like Stephen King and Ted Dekker. It held my attention for 503 pages of gut wrenching, spine tingling suspense and drama. It reminded me of The Shining but without all the gore, just the suspense and intrigue keeping you on the edge of your seat literally. I would rate this book a 10 out of 10. Michael Koryta is now one of my all time favorite authors. This book is available in paperback, hard cover, audio books, ebook and large print formats. For more information on this book, the author and where to get your copy, click on the link below:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So Cold the River's book jacket uses words such as "irresistible suspense" and "spellbinding". I wouldn't go that far, but if you are looking for an original, well-written tale very reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, then this book might be for you. Eric Shaw is a down-on-his-luck, back-from-LA, Chicago filmmaker who is now "reduced" to designing "video life portraits" at funerals to make ends meet. To make matters worse, he is also on his way to divorce from his wife, Claire. When he is approached by Alyssa Bradford to spend a few weeks in French Lick and West Baden to document her dying father-in-law, Campbell's, mysterious past, he can't say no. Both are small towns with deep histories in their extraordinary hotels (I told you to expect The Shining). Shaw meets many people along the way who are willing to help him, but becomes addicted to the towns' water. The water shows him visions of Campbell's life in the early 1900s. The story takes a sinister turn when Eric's visions become stronger. The story begins strong with a penchant for pageturning. Midway through, it loses some steam, but everything is nicely pulled together in the end. I did not find it an "icy, terrifying winner", as Dennis Lehane's blurb on the cover suggests, but if you are looking for some mindless entertainment, you can find it here. MY RATING - 3/5 To see my rating scale and other reviews, please check out my blog:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit hard to follow, but totally worth it. Especially if you have visited West Baden and Frenck Lick, Indiana.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael Koryta's recent novels read like a slightly more literary Stephen King or Michael Crichton. The setting in West Baden/French Lick, Indiana is beautifully depicted and Kotyta's eerie story really brings it to life. I can't wait to read his other novels.
BleuJeannes More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, superbly written, full of believable (and unbelievable!!)characters, set in the midst of the wonderful French Lick Resort in southern Indiana. Am ordering Koryta's other two books right now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
Eric Shaw has seen his film making career implode, his marriage spiral out of control and watched what could have been turn in to it what used to be. He is now a videographer for other people's lives and thinks he has hit rock bottom. But when a strange chain of events finds him taking a job from a woman who wants to know about the strange bottle she has in her possession of a substance called Pluto Water is and how it relates to her dying father-in-law's legacy well is it off to Indiana. There he hopes to discover what Pluto Water is, who Campbell Bradford really was and figure out why there are so many secrets in such a small town. Before Eric is even checked into the hotel he starts having visions and feels the supernatural charge of the area. He has always had these visions and held them in check his entire life with only his wife, Claire fully understanding and accepting of his gift. But Eric had decided to drink from the bottle Pluto Water and that event seems to have triggered a new type of vision where the past and present collide and bringing the dead back to life. There are number of ill effects the water is causing on Eric's body and he suffers from withdrawal if he is does not keep drinking but the more he drinks the worse the visions are and the closer the haunting becomes. When the dead begin to speak directly to you it is best to pay attention and perhaps takes notes. While doing his research Eric befriends a doctorate student named Kellen Cage who is also researching Campbell Bradford but it becomes apparent very quickly that while they are searching the same name, the person they are looking at is not the same man as they may have the same name the age or legacy don't add up. Kellen's person was vile, evil and caused destruction before disappearing to parts unknown. They talk to locals who try to assist but have to avoid the only living relative who it turns out is as mean and evil as his great-grandfather with an even bigger chip on his shoulder and grudge against humanity. The longer Eric stays in town and the more water he drinks, the worse the visions become and the more real they seem to be. Even with Claire's assistance Eric is fighting something inside him that he alone seems to have brought back to life and with no idea how to control it, how can he stop it let alone destroy it. He is seeing things from another time and place that are occurring in the present and making him afraid for everyone around him as he knows an ill and destructive wind is about to blow into town. Is it the water, the town or him that is the problem? This book is detailed, organized and well laid out with characters are well described and very personable. There is enough suspense and mystery to keep you guessing about what is going on and when the truth all comes out you are not sure if what you just read is fiction or fact. You never know it might just have happened.. Mary Gramlich is "The Reading Reviewer" located at
jeanie1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On par with King. Good Read.Pluto water that is central to the story is real. During archaeologicial excavations in Deadwood South Dakota, we came across many bottles of Pluto Water (both broken and whole). The manufactureres claimed that the contents cured everything from the common cold to cancer. The bottle description is exactly as is described in the book. and no we did not partake of its liquid!!
maneekuhi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't enjoy action movies. I yearn for the old time 10 minute climaxes at the end of the movie. I get bored by today's half hour ending catastrophes, with the usual mix of explosions, car crashes, automatic weapons, collapsing buildings, pyrotechnics, buckling highways, downtown freight trains - and just want the damn thing to be over. So I was amazed when I found myself thoroughly enjoying the protracted finish of "So Cold". It seemed to begin with about 1/4 of the book left and there was a lot that you could see coming. But most of it was credible ! And very well described - I felt I could very well see (SPOILERS) southern Indiana in the middle of a horrific natural disaster. But this book is a horror story. Not too yucky - no snakes in the bed covers, nor worms crawling out of an eyeball - but it is a heavy dose of fantasy, and the story dragged a bit here and there getting to the end. There is a water bottle with unnatural properties and its contents cause incredible reactions. OK, but I'm still not sure why the woman hired the video guy in the first place. No more horror, I shoulda known better.
RDHawk6886 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic setting of West Baden resort (French Lick, IN) elevates this supernatural thriller above average.
DarcyO on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eric Shaw is a washed-up cinematographer who is now creating funeral video montages in Chicago. When socialite Alyssa Bradford asks him to make a documentary about her father-in-law as a gift for her husband, Eric is intrigued. Campbell Bradford, her 95-year-old father-in-law, is an enigma. Eric doesn¿t have much to go on, but Alyssa does provide Eric with Campbell¿s hometown and an antique bottle of Pluto Water.Eric¿s talents as a cinematographer come in part form his ability to see and feel things from the past, and when he visits Campbell in the hospital and travels to Campbell¿s hometown, this ability comes into play in a big way. The antique bottle of water, which frees Eric of a headache when he samples it, proves to be a double-edged sword because while Eric¿s headache disappears for a while, when it returns, more of the water is needed to ease his pain.Eric¿s presence in Bradford¿s hometown of West Baden also unleashes an evil from the past which tries to make its way into the present. Storm clouds form in the normally peaceful West Baden. With the help of Kellen Cage, who is working on his thesis, and local Anne McKinney, Eric finds out more about Campbell Bradford and his Pluto Water. But digging in the past will lead him to a race for his life.Koryta shines like Stephen King in this fast-paced thriller. Eric is likeable, but is a bit too big for his britches. He doesn¿t let well-meaning people in his life help him. Of course, that changes as a result of this adventure. I loved this story! It sucked me in and took me on a thrilling ride. I highly recommend it.
dreamreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So unscary the story. Never brought the promised chills down my spine, despite the mysterious self-chilling bottle of water.
cmeilink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michael Koryta's writing style flows like prose throughout his books. So Cold the River is no exception. The writing is perfect, the story about the history of a small town and an evil, long dead inhabitant of that town is spellbinding, and Koryta's ability to weave in ties to the supernatural is effortless.Loved the book! Loved the writing!
SandyLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It¿s hard to peg this one. Blurbs use words like ¿spooky¿, ¿eerie chiller¿, ¿edge of your seat¿. One blurb compared it to Stephen King¿s The Shining which is what I was hoping for, but it wasn¿t any of the above. A supernatural suspense maybe. The place is French Lick Springs, Indiana where I just happened to be on vacation this week (have been coming for 20 years). Picked up the book in the gift shop of the French Lick Springs Resort expecting a horror book since a Stephen King comparison had been made. The history part is fascinating. If you have ever been to French Lick it is just as the writer describes. Miles and miles of farmland and then you run smack dab into two beautiful resorts that look like someone took a wrong turn at the cow pasture and ended up in Connecticut. Eric Shaw is a washed up film maker, separated from his wife, and relegated to making funeral films of the life of the departed. One woman hires him to go to French Lick and film the history of her father-in-law who hasn¿t long to live. She gives him a vial of Pluto water, something that was in her father-in-law¿s possession. He meets Kellen Cage who has been researching the black history of French Lick. Eric has had ¿episodes¿ of visions in the past and when he arrives in French Lick he starts to have blinding headaches. For being a smart guy he does a very stupid thing. When he researches the Pluto water he learns it has healing properties so the idiot takes a swig. Now he starts seeing a train that no longer runs and a man who is allegedly Campbell Bradford, the same name of the father-in-law he is researching. But he doesn¿t look anything like him. Much is made of the weather but how it ties in to the arrival of Campbell Bradford¿s ghost has escaped me. It was an enjoyable read for the history alone but if you are looking for a clone of The Shining, you will be disappointed.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this very creepy ghost story, Eric Shaw, a failed movie director who's settled for making videos for funerals and birthdays, is offered a job looking into the life of an elderly billionaire. Sent to the small town where the man grew up, Eric is also given a mysterious glass bottle of water, one the elderly man kept hidden from the family for most of his life. Curiousity drives Eric to try the water - once famed for curing all ills - and this tasting and his trip to Indiana sets in motion the release of the malevolent spirit of a man who terroized the small town in the 1920s and who shared the elderly billionaire's name.Koryta's writing is great - the book is a thick one at 500 pages, but he quickly brings you into the story. While not exactly horror (I didn't have to sleep with the lights on, which is usually a good indicator of a terrifying story), but it is very unsettling and suspenseful. Clearly drawn characters, quickly moving plot, and a truly evil bad guy made this a great read.Recommended!
johnbsheridan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are many things to like about this book - Koryta's writing and ability to draw out a story the main one but for a genre crossover it didn't quite work for me. I kept recalling Stephen King's "The Dark Half" for another book where the bad guy was someone who wasn't quite there but still managed to exist and while it is a long time since I read that one my recollection is that it managed to generate the required chills much more effectively. So I guess while this is competent and as I said has many good features it doesn't quite bridge the gap to great which some of Koryta's other novels have but it is good to see an author willing to expand his horizons particularly one as good as Koryta.
bnbookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WOW!! This book is amazing. Having just returned from the area it was even more fantastic. This is a supernatural story with so many other aspects thrown in: greed, love, abandonment. The characters are so well written, you feel as though they are popping off the page and into your living room with you. It is eerie and historical at the same time. This is an area that has so much history to it, and this story is told including some of that and adding other elements to keep the storyline going. The back story of the West Baden and French Lick Hotels is intriguing. It is not often mentioned of the other hotels for the "colored" folk. When at the French Lick Hotel there is a photo of Joe Louis on the wall, and this story puts a bit of a different twist on that. I can't wait to read Cypress House by Koryta. Even if you have never been to this enchanted, mysterious area, this book will hold your attention.
jennbisk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really liked it in the beginning. Characters were believeable and story was intriguing, but I didn't buy the ending and felt let down.
tammathau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I live about 3 hours from West Baden/French Lick and loved this book. While there is a supernatural element in the story, I wouldn't classify it as horror. So Cold The River was hard to put down!
suballa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once a highly sought after cinematographer, Eric Shaw¿s film career is in a downward spiral. He shouldn¿t be surprised-punching a famous director in the face will often have that effect. Eric¿s personal life isn¿t faring much better. He walked out on his wife Claire when he began to feel that she and her father were starting to think of him as a failure. Eric¿s gift has always been his innate sense of knowing which pictures or footage would move the audience. His new career is using that gift to make personal memorial videos for funerals, weddings, and other occasions. When the sister of a woman memorialized in one of his videos offers to hire Eric to make a video about her dying father in law, Campbell Bradford, Eric agrees. Armed with his camera and a curious bottle of vintage mineral water that belonged to Bradford, Eric travels to French Lick, Indiana, to begin his project. What he finds there contradicts all he was previously told about Campbell Bradford. This and the fact that the bottle of mineral water he¿s been carrying around keeps getting colder and colder to the touch, even as the temperature around him rises, should have been enough to convince Eric that he was heading toward danger. But, alas, Eric plunges ahead and ends up in a fight to save his life and his very soul. This is a fast paced, action packed supernatural thriller with great characters and a very clever plot. I enjoyed this from cover to cover
khiemstra631 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up mainly because of the setting, which is the recently-renovated West Baden Hotel in southern Indiana. I was also interested because the author is from Indiana, and I know that a fellow-librarian/friend of mine knows him personally and likes his work. In this story, Chicagoan Eric Shaw is hired to go to West Baden and make a movie about the life story of one Campbell Bradford. The daughter-in-law of Bradford gives Shaw a bottle of mineral water with the Pluto Water label on, saying that this is the only possession her father-in-law has from his life there. Eric cannot resist the lure of the water, and strange things begin to happen after he drinks it. He is given the gift of seeing the past and learns that the present Campbell Bradford is not the same man as the one who left West Baden years ago. The story really goes over the top from there and moves along at a fast clip. There's lots of severe weather (think tornadoes) and supernatural stuff mixed in. Suspension of belief is necessary in numerous places, but it's a fun read for a hot summer after noon. I definitely recommend it.
khager on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is probably going to be eclipsed by The Passage, and that's too bad. I enjoyed The Passage, but this book is definitely creepier (vengeful ghost trumps hordes of vampires, I think). (So read both, won't you?)I think it's best to go into this one knowing as little as possible, but here's a little info to get you started. Eric Shaw is in a tiny town in Indiana to make a documentary about Campbell Bradshaw. Almost immediately after arriving, he starts seeing visions and the longer he stays, they become increasingly creepy and vivid. And they center around Campbell Bradshaw.This book's pretty thick (503 pages in the ARC I got) but it isn't at all hard to read. It's the work of a weekend, if you have one free. The sense of dread arrives early and starts slowly getting worse until you can't put the book down. So if you want something that's genuinely creepy and that is also incredibly good? Snag this book. (You can thank me later.)