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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 (464 )
5 star
 (110)
4 star
 (155)
3 star
 (142)
2 star
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1 star
 (20)
Overall
3.7 (241 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (239 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (9)
Performance
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  •  
    Ava Albuquerque, NM, United States 07-12-12
    Ava Albuquerque, NM, United States 07-12-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    Performance
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    "Interesting but a disappointing end"
    Would you try another book from Michael Koryta and/or Robert Petkoff?

    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.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't heard his other perfomances but he's a plus for audible books.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Yes, if only to hear the violin music.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Pleasanton, CA, United States 07-01-12
    Melissa Pleasanton, CA, United States 07-01-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    24
    16
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    "Historical Fiction with a Supernatural Twist"
    If you could sum up So Cold the River in three words, what would they be?

    Pulls you in


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What does Robert Petkoff bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The voice of Campbell Bradford is menacing, cold and perfect.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    You never know what's behind the wind.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 03-03-12
    Thomas 03-03-12
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    "Pretty cool idea, could be a bit spookier."

    I love the story idea, and the back and forth portions of the book. I would have liked it to be a bit more spooky, but it was good read/listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    maxpower San Diego, CA United States 04-29-11
    maxpower San Diego, CA United States 04-29-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So Lame the Premise"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evil_Asch 04-28-11
    Evil_Asch 04-28-11 Member Since 2014

    Evil Asch

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A lively and even handed thriller/horror"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki Clinton, OK, United States 11-04-10
    Vicki Clinton, OK, United States 11-04-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    5
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    "So Cold the River"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelley Chatsworth CA 10-23-10
    Shelley Chatsworth CA 10-23-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristy Fort Worth, TX, United States 07-24-10
    Kristy Fort Worth, TX, United States 07-24-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Not what I was expecting"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dianne Dallas, TX, United States 10-01-10
    Dianne Dallas, TX, United States 10-01-10 Member Since 2009

    dianne

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    "Awful!"

    If you are going to write a "twilight" style book, I think you have an obligation to warn people. I hate that type of book, but on the Promo from audible wasted one of my credits on this book.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alyssa 07-10-10
    Alyssa 07-10-10 Member Since 2009

    I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tepid"

    There's not much to say for this book. There's just not much there.

    The villain is built up as being a man of pure evil but we never see him be anything but the dullest kind of thug. We are never given any reason why a curse from him should be taken seriously or why he's special enough to manage to come back from death. The author tells you that there is magic every other paragraph but he never shows you any beyond water caused hallucinations.

    The only promising aspect of this tale is the connection between the main character and the personality of the secondary villain. But it's never fulfilled or brought fully out.

    It reads like it was meant to be on the inside of a hotel brochure. Judging by the author's note this is the spirit in which is was written as well.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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