Saturday, May 29, 2010

So Cold the River (Michael Koryta)

So Cold the River's book jacket uses words such as "irresistible suspense" and "spellbinding". I wouldn't go that far, but if you are looking for an original, well-written tale very reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, then this book might be for you.

Eric Shaw is a down-on-his-luck, back-from-LA, Chicago filmmaker who is now "reduced" to designing "video life portraits" at funerals to make ends meet. To make matters worse, he is also on his way to divorce from his wife, Claire. When he is approached by Alyssa Bradford to spend a few weeks in French Lick and West Baden to document her dying father-in-law, Campbell's, mysterious past, he can't say no. Both are small towns with deep histories in their extraordinary hotels (I told you to expect The Shining). Shaw meets many people along the way who are willing to help him, but becomes addicted to the towns' water. The water shows him visions of Campbell's life in the early 1900s. The story takes a sinister turn when Eric's visions become stronger.

The story begins strong with a penchant for pageturning. Midway through, it loses some steam, but everything is nicely pulled together in the end. I did not find it an "icy, terrifying winner", as Dennis Lehane's blurb on the cover suggests, but if you are looking for some mindless entertainment, you can find it here.


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