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So Cold the River
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company 2010
528 pages

So Cold the River is a new supernatural thriller penned by Michael Koryta. Kindle: So Cold the River

After a fall from grace from the LA film industry, Eric Shaw ekes out  a living composing memorial montages for Chicago’s dearly departed.  His uncanny talent for eliciting emotions, and detecting family secrets is recognized by the lovely Alyssa Bradford who offers him big money to document the life of her wealthy, influential, but gravely ill father-in-law, Campbell Bradford (95).  She provides him with a mysterious antique bottle of the original mineral water once siphoned from the hidden springs in the old man’s hometown.  Formerly sold as an elixir to cure all ills, the ever-cooling bottle appears to retain some unusual almost magical properties.

Shaw’s journey takes him from Campbell’s hospital room, where he conducts what will likely be the dying man’s last interview, to small town Indiana.  All the while, he is plagued by severe headaches which the water seems to abate, and likewise practically driven mad by strange visions which the water appears to produce.

Shaw encounters Kellen Cage, a grad student researching the area’s history-the two de-cide to work together-as well as colourful townsfolk including Anne McKinney, the elderly weather spotter whose life is geared toward the perfect storm, and the volatile and violent Josiah Bradford, Campbell’s distant descendant who wishes no strangers messing around in his family’s history.

Shaw and Kellen uncover tales of bootlegging, intense rivalry, mistaken identity, and possibly, murder.

So Cold the River is an interesting story of the supernatural, where a dark past stretches its tendrils into the present, curling into a pervasive evil that threatens the town.  It begins with a slow, soft whisper; an undercurrent of something sinister, then builds into a rumble, and ends with a tumultuous roar.

The gathering storm is not only beautifully written-kudos to Koryta-but it is described with pin point accuracy.  For anyone who has experienced the dread, anxiety and pure adrenaline rush of severe weather, this story makes you not only see it, but feel it in your bones.  You’re never sure what will happen next, or who, if any, will emerge unscathed.

At 505 pages, it’s a touch long-although there is nothing glaring to edit out-yet easy persistence draws the reader in, to a suspenseful, mysterious, and well-written story.
Hop on.  You’ll enjoy the ride.