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So Cold the River | [Michael Koryta]

So Cold the River

It started with a documentary. The beautiful Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to unearth the life story of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose childhood is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job, even though the only clues to Bradford's past are his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life. In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary past.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Brooding, grainy-voiced Shakespearean stage actor Robert Petkoff narrates So Cold The River, mystery novelist Michael Koryta’s icy, supernatural ghost story set in a rural Indiana town built on Pluto Water, a bottled mineral laxative of the early 1900s rumored to cure headaches, indigestion, even alcoholism. Petkoff haunts as cynical, broken Eric Shaw, a failed Hollywood documentary filmmaker who slumps home to Chicago, gets dumped by wife, Claire, and starts stringing together freelance photo chronicles for weddings and funerals: “Video life portraits, that's what he called them, an attempt to lend some credibility to what was essentially a glorified slide show.” Oh, and Eric also connects with dead peoples’ personal belongings.

Evil snarls from the grave when grieving Alyssa Bradford hires Eric to shoot an homage to her secretive, dying 95-year-old millionaire father-in-law, Campbell. First assignment — capturing Campbell’s humble roots near sparsely populated French Lick, Indiana, where Eric lodges at the improbably located, luxury West Baden Springs Hotel (a real registered National Historic Landmark). But not even its soaring atrium dome can shade him from the rotten-egg stench of sulphur. As Eric keeps digging, an 80-year-old bottle of Pluto Water from Campbell’s collection frosts, turning murky, while weather patterns predict a violent storm. He takes a sip of Pluto and the hallucinations spin; shadows in rumpled suits, railroad trains, and violin strains pouring from a piano. At least Claire believes him.

Petkoff softens Eric with undercurrents of grit and exhaustion, so even when he’s hysterical with foreshadowing, he’s still grounded. The character of Anne McKinney, octogenarian widow and de facto Pluto historian, studies barometric pressure. Fittingly, her voice guides the book’s emotional climate. Practical, yet nostalgic; Anne nurses a daily gin and tonic at the local bar. Petkoff recognizes she’s a creature of habit and tracks her quirky moods with the same, steady hum. Eventually, the rituals of her chuckles and her leisurely breaks and pauses stop making a difference as the past fades the present into black. —Nita Rao

Publisher's Summary

It started with a documentary. The beautiful Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to unearth the life story of her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose childhood is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job, even though the only clues to Bradford's past are his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life.

In Bradford's hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary past - a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once intermingled. Long derelict, the hotel has just been restored to its former grandeur.

But something else has been restored too - a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to settle a decades-old score. And with every move, Eric inches closer to the center of the building storm.

©2010 Michael Koryta (P)2010 Hachette

What the Critics Say

"A cataclysmic finale will put readers in mind of some of the best recent works of supernatural horror, among which this book ranks." (Publishers Weekly)

"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." (Michael Connelly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (435 )
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4.0 (210 )
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  •  
    Mary Bloomington, IL, United States 06-26-11
    Mary Bloomington, IL, United States 06-26-11 Member Since 2010

    MadaReader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really Creepy"

    This book is very atmospheric--it's not a "jump out of your seat" kind of scary book, but it builds up a level of creepiness as you listen. The narration was well done--didn't detract from the story at all. It is the first Michael Kortya book I've listened to but I will definitely look for other titles from him. I didn't get anything accomplished after downloading this title because all I wanted to do was listen to the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Poe Durham, NC United States 08-29-10
    Michele Poe Durham, NC United States 08-29-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very good listen"

    I ran across this as a recommendation from Stephen King. I don't always agree with his choices but this one did not disappoint. Great reader and interesting story. If you like a historical education with your stories then you will not be disappointed. I remember when the French Lick resorts were first restored and I always found it interesting that they would restore a resort out in the middle of nowhere. Now I have a better appreciation for the history and the place. It makes me want to go there next time I am through Indiana but it isn't cheap!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy clinton, NY, United States 08-21-10
    Amy clinton, NY, United States 08-21-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent!"

    This book got me right out of the gate and never let go. I don't feel like it ever lost momentum and I was disappointed when it was over. Since finishing up a couple series I've been listening to since joining Audible over 2 years ago, I seem to have a hard time finding new books to check out. I'm very glad I stumbled upon this one. As has been said, the narration and production, incl. the music, were fabulous. There's nothing worse than bad narration to completely ruin what may have been a good story! I highly recommend this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Heusmann 07-22-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "went on and on"

    although I enjoyed the beginning of this book and the concept of someone being able to see lives through the camera lens, I got ever so tired of the lead character's headache. The book seemed to go on and on. By the end, I really didn't care what was going on with the water.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KathieB 07-10-10
    KathieB 07-10-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow, what a story!"

    I loved this book and could not stop listening. It has the right amount of character development to go along with a very original story. Production quality is terrific! Violin music and sound effects enhance the narration and add a subtile magical mood. Robert Petkoff is a skilled narrator with a pleasing voice. The whole listening experience in this audible book is much better than simply reading it yourself. Past and present are woven together through the haunting visions of the main character. Believe it or not, I was listening to the end of this book during a very loud thunder storm... The storm in the book echoed what what going on around me! I am looking forward to more from Michael Koryta! Don't forget to look up the violinist, Joshua Bell's music. It has such soul.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki Hartford City, IN, USA 06-22-10
    Vicki Hartford City, IN, USA 06-22-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "good book"

    I listened to this book to & from work and sometimes didn't want to get out of the car. Very intriguing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Bloomington, IN, USA 06-17-10
    Kelly Bloomington, IN, USA 06-17-10
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    "Creepy and wonderful"

    I have visited the West Baden Hotel many times. This book captures the mysterious, haunted feeling of the resort and then reimagines it in a way that I loved. Definitely worth a listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan 06-26-10
    Alan 06-26-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrific reader of a terrific book"

    This psychic cinematographer turned hallucinogenic detective story was a total treat. A burnt out ex-Hollywood film-maker Eric Shaw is down on his luck and back home in Chicago making slide-show movies for funeral/memorial tributes. He has a mostly un-tapped psychic instinct that draws rich society woman Alyssa Bradford to hire him to do a film about her mysterious father-in-law Campbell Bradford and her only clue is that he was from the resort towns of French Lick and West Baden in Indiana and she gives Shaw an antique bottle of the local mineral water called Pluto Water which has an unnatural ability to stay freezing cold at whatever outside temperature. When Shaw sneaks a drink and finds his instinctive psychic abilities enhanced into seeing characters who are no longer alive the story is kick-started and you cannot stop reading/listening to it. Narrator Robert Petkoff is just terrific at handling several character voices lending each of them a distinctive identifiable sound. Highly recommended!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Arkansas 08-05-14
    Jan Arkansas 08-05-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You Never Know Which Way Koryta's River Will Run"

    I find Koryta novels, as well as his writing style, original and different with each book. You never know what kind of fiction you are going to get. This novel is centered around a documentary being made regarding a small town's history, which includes a mysterious little bottle of water that is believed to do amazing things. Original storyline and well written. Petkoff is excellent, as always. There is a lot of talent in this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Cadiz, KY, United States 03-09-13
    Amy Cadiz, KY, United States 03-09-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Enthralling read!"
    Where does So Cold the River rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I really think this is one of my favorite books of all time. I have had it for quite a while, and I often go back to it to listen again. This story drew me in like no other has (except maybe Stephen King's The Cell or Mark Tufo's Spirit Clearing). I am very familiar with the setting of this story, and have stayed in both the West Baden and the French Licks hotels long before finding this novel. I always thought Pluto was a haunting creature, and you can feel the spirits among you.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eric - He is totally convinced he knows what he is doing, and he forges through in spite of all the elements against him.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the scene where the little old lady is taken captive. She's quit spunky.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it was way too long to listen in one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    Get it. If you like entertaining, spiritual and supernatural elements, you will love it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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