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
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
"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)
Creepy without being gory or actually scary, kind of like the old Twilight Zone shows. I consider this a good thing. This one is not as good as The Cypress House or The Ridge, but worth a listen. The narration is excellent.
Between audible and hard cover I read 5 or 6 books a month- this is with out a doubt one off the best books I have read in the past 3 or 4 years. The production quality (narration, cadence, etc) are absolutely flawless. The book is truly engaging yet creepy; Michael Koryta has been billed as the next "Stephen King"- this work far surpasses most King novels. The story is original and elegantly written; my only complaint is that there is little underlying meaning. This remains however an excellent "beach read". Savor it.
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.
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!
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.
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.
This is a good summer read. You can do other things while listening. It was an interesting story, but never really thrilled me where I couldn't stop listening to it at anytime.
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.
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!
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