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 the film without knowing why. That innate ability causes Alyssa Bradford to commission Eric to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford.
At age 95, Campbell Bradford is finding out that his millions are not going to stop death. His past is a mystery and one he has never really spoken about in any detail. The family knows bits and pieces but no real specifics other than he came from the French Lick, Indiana area sometime during the Depression. He brought with him an old bottle of mineral water bottled by Pluto Water. Back in the day, the water was said to cure anything and everything. These days, such statements are considered fanciful at best. With those two clues his starting point, after a very strange hospital visit with the elderly Mr. Campbell, Eric Shaw goes to the area to start to uncover Campbell Bradford's past.
Amongst the beauty of the old resort hotels that have been fully restored to the appearance they once were there is a powerful legacy of evil. Evil, that like the area is slowly coming back to life. As Eric gradually succumbs more and more to the incredible hallucinations and visions as well as the temptations of the area the evil gains in strength. This highly atmospheric novel slowly builds to a powerful conclusion resulting in a climatic battle between good and evil.
I have always enjoyed Michael Kortya's books in the past which were primarily mysteries revolving around Private Investigator Lincoln Perry. Those books were more psychological in nature than this and used a mystery at the core. In this one, there is a mystery, but this novel is more of a literature angle as the focus is on relationships between characters in the present and the past. As such, there are long stretches of time between action sequences while characters discuss events or contemplate in solitude what is going on. The paranormal plays a strong part in the work and that angle is satisfactorily resolved.
Without ruining the read for others, all issues are fully addressed and explained by the end of this enjoyable and complex novel. There aren't any questions left unanswered in this slow moving novel that is far different from the other books the author has created. Primarily a character driven work, the tale follows numerous characters on collision courses and the aftermath of those collisions. While it takes a considerable amount of time to get there, the final 50 pages or so make the trip well worth it.
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 … more
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