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.
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In this explosive thriller from Koryta (Envy the Night), failed filmmaker Eric Shaw is eking out a living making family home videos when a client offers him big bucks to travel to the resort town of West Baden, Ind., the childhood home of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, to shoot a video history of his life. Almost immediately, things go weird. Eric uncovers evidence of another Campbell Bradford, a petty tyrant who lived a generation before the other and terrorized the locals. The older Campbell begins appearing in horrific visions to Eric after he sips the peculiar mineral water that made West Baden famous. Koryta spins a spellbinding tale of an unholy lust for power that reaches from beyond the grave and suspends disbelief through the believable interactions of fully developed characters. A cataclysmic finale will put readers in mind of some of the best recent works of supernatural horror, among which this book ranks.