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)
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.
Eric - He is totally convinced he knows what he is doing, and he forges through in spite of all the elements against him.
I loved the scene where the little old lady is taken captive. She's quit spunky.
Yes, but it was way too long to listen in one sitting.
Get it. If you like entertaining, spiritual and supernatural elements, you will love it.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
Brevity would have helped this read, but that doesn't make it a bad one. The author belabored the plot in such a way that I found myself wanting to fast forward to the next piece of action. The characters were great, the descriptions of the settings superb, it was just the pace of the unfolding of the story and resolution of the mystery that had me wanting.
It is hard to know what the problem is with this--writing? performance?.
The sort of "folksy" writing veers into the ridiculous. While the plot is theoretically interesting, the phrasing veers into pomposity so frequently that it is impossible to stay with the story.
I've heard so much about Koryta and this book in particular, I was very excited to see for myself. I cannot understand why anyone who cares about writing was interested in this book.
So over the top. The voice of the villain is ridiculous. While he can handle the "normal" characters, when he goes into the the villian's voice it is so incredibly ludicrous that it makes it nearly impossible to listen to the book.
Laughably bad. Trite, predictable.
I live about 40 minutes from Springs Valley so this book was like dejavu.....made me want to go walk in the woods, ride the train and just walk the halls of the hotel.....loved loved loved the style of this writer....kept you so interested throughout the entire book.....and with the audio....and the sound effects....gave me chills sometimes down your back. I'd like to read another one of this author I think...he was so interesting
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.
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