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So Cold the River

A book by Michael Koryta

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Dark Plot and Chilling Characters--Great Combination

  • May 28, 2010
Eric Shaw's career was over. At one time he was an up and coming Hollywood cinematographer, but one rash decision ended his dream and left him producing memorial films. However, his instincts and almost psychic like abilities remained and eventually led him to an interesting opportunity from the daughter-in-law of a mysterious millionaire. After seeing his work at her sister's funeral, she hired Eric to produce a film of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, as a gift to his family. Aside from knowing his childhood home town, though, virtually nothing else was known about his past. With no other promising prospects, Eric decided to go to the towns of West Baden and French Lick and attempt to uncover Campbell's past. Soon after arriving he began having disturbing visions and started to wonder if the water that once made this town famous for its remarkable healing qualities was instead a source of evil. In a deeply suspenseful novel, So Cold The River is gripping, haunting, and all around unsettling. Yeah, I loved it.

This is the first book I've read by Michael Koryta, but I doubt it'll be the last. To call it impressive is a bit of an understatement. It was a seriously great book with awesome suspense and some extraordinarily haunting scenes. Most books I read have a dark side. This one excels in using the dark environment to accentuate evil. I loved it and the further I got into it, the better it became with an ending that was truly worthy of this remarkable book.

Ok, time for gushing is over. The story starts really strong with the opening scenes setting a good framework for the main character, Eric Shaw. I loved his character within the first few pages, which helped later on when I saw the side of him that was less than flattering. The opening pages, though, set this book up to be a little on the depressing side, but offering the reader a bit of hope for the protagonist so that they felt comfortable investing their time in him.

Shortly after Eric arrives at West Baden, the book hits a small snag. The events that transpire do have a point and set up future events, but they weren't terribly interesting. There were some minor plot elements I wanted to explore that the main character was tuning out. So instead of getting to hear some great stories and spend time with intriguing characters, I was stuck in Eric's somewhat deteriorating mind. In the end, this circular somewhat trying detour worked, but at the time I was reading it, I was getting a bit frustrated. There were also a couple of plot elements that seemed to disappear. They played a significant role and they should have been better explained. Other than those minor hiccups, the rest of the book was fantastic.

By far my favorite part of So Cold The River was the flash back and vision scenes. They were worked beautifully into the story with grace and perfect execution. They were spaced widely enough to leave the reader wanting more, but closely enough not to leave them desperate for a trip to the past. Koryta stuck a great balance--a well done job writing this portion.

I really can't say enough about this one, but I'll wrap it up. For people who enjoy dark plots with chilling evil characters, this is a great choice. With the small sample size of one book, Koryta appears to be a very talented author. I'm impressed with his imagination as well as story and character development abilities. I totally enjoyed So Cold The River and will soon be picking up his earlier books.

Disclaimer for sensitive readers: This is a general market book. There is some minor, but appropriate violence as well as extremely mild sexual content. Also present is a moderate amount of language, especially with certain characters. Personally I found all to be within reason and heightened the believability. However, for those sensitive to this type of content, reader beware.

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review by . May 22, 2010
Film maker Eric Shaw was a rising star in Hollywood. He had a rare talent - he just knew when something was right for the film. He just wasn't as good with people. It drove him out of the industry, out of California and back home to Chicago. Eventually it drove him right out of his marriage to the beautiful Claire.     These days he makes a few bucks creating a sort of video montage tribute for memorial services. He still has the trick of just knowing that something belongs in …
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Melissa Willis ()
Ranked #209
A little bit about me. I read primarily Christian fiction. My favorites are suspense, with supernatural elements always being a plus. I most enjoy books that will keep me thinking well after I'm done … more
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010: Award-winning authorMichael Koryta's first foray into the supernatural genre is spellbinding and check-your-doors-and-windows scary, and it all begins with a check and a bottle of water. Filmmaker Eric Shaw had a knack for getting the exact right shot--an unexplained tug that unerringly put him on the right path--until his temper killed his Hollywood career. He gets a shot at redemption when a wealthy young woman commissions a video tribute for her father-in-law, a dying millionaire named Campbell Bradford. A man with a shady past, a town with a rich history, and an antique bottle of water claiming to "cure all ills" lead Shaw to small town West Baden, where things quickly go sideways. Shaw finds himself at odds with Bradford's only surviving family, a bitter and violent great-grandson named Josiah, and that once familiar tug of Shaw's becomes something darker and more dangerous. At its deliciously creepy core,So Cold the Riveris about two men facing down their demons, and what happens when those demons fight back. --Daphne Durham
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ISBN-10: 0316053635
ISBN-13: 978-0316053631
Author: Michael Koryta
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

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