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)
Great story and was a little scary, a little historical and very entertaining. I was never quite sure what was going to happen.
The old lady character was very memorable.
No I haven't but I really enjoyed this one.
It stuck in my mind for weeks afterwards.
No, I haven't read the print version, so I can't say.
The elderly woman who tracked storms. It is refreshing to have an old woman who wasn't a stereotype. She had intense interests and important insights.
I could have. As it was, I listened to it very quickly.
The narrator did a very good job. It's interesting how some of the male narrators are able to pull off the female voices. I don't know when Michael Koryta wrote this book, he needs a little more seasoning.
The book kept me interested. I would get up early in the morning to listen as I got ready for work but was disappointed toward the end. It became a little repetitive and the ending was abrupt and not very satisfying.
I haven't heard his other perfomances but he's a plus for audible books.
Yes, if only to hear the violin music.
Pulls you in
The main character, Eric. He evolves from a self pitying, angry, borderline alcoholic who locks anyone out of his life that tries to help him or in the case of his wife, Claire, who also loves him. The supernatural events that happen to Eric help him to see into the past but eventually also bring him to the point where he sheds his emotional protective armor and reconnect with the world.
The voice of Campbell Bradford is menacing, cold and perfect.
You never know what's behind the wind.
This is a captivating story of transformation for a washed up film maker, an orphaned 14 year-old boy, and a lonely,elderly woman. A tale that weaves in and out of the past and present but is bound together by the cloudy, mysterious water in a green bottle that seems to have a life of its own.
This is one of those books where at the end I feel like nothing really happened. The big reveal, such as it was, was just disappointing and lame. It wasn't scary in the least (one slightly creepy scene near the beginning notwithstanding). And the protagonist was clearly an immature jerk... maybe that's on purpose but it doesn't really make the book more readable for me.
Solid narration brings the listener on a journey to the dark past and the dire future. An interesting and compelling read that manages to bring the horror and history of the tale to life without being bogged down in unnecessary details or descriptions which allows the story to move along at a satisfying clip. Well worth a credit investment
After reading the description of this book I was intrigued and looking forward to reading it but, I had to frankly make myself finish it. I found it boring and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
I really enjoyed "So Cold The River" and I nominate it for absolutely the best title! It caught my attention when I was browsing for books.
I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Petkoff's reading/narration. I loved that the lead character was flawed---and then how he evolves at the end---a beautifully done character arc.
And a terrific premise about the waters like some magical heroin. Wonderful writing.
Although this book was not what I was expecting, it was worth the time and money. I recommended it to a friend and forewarned her it was totally different than anything I had listened to before, and to beware that it takes a strange and crazy turn right out of the chute! It was a book I won't soon forget.
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