Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

Genre: Supernatural suspense
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2010

A tale of irresistable suspense!

It starts with a beautiful woman and a challenge. Out of the blue, Eric Shaw is approached by Alyssa Bradford with a unique project, an open chequebook and a quest - to investigate her father-in-law's mysterious past. His film career going nowhere, Eric takes the job, though all he has to go on is the name of Campbell Bradford's hometown and an antique water bottle he kept his entire life.

It turns out Campbell Bradford comes from a town with a fascinating history, from its glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents and mobsters once mingled, to the hot springs people came to seeking miraculous cures for everything  from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has recently been restored to its former glory.

It's a real place.........which I didn't realise for a start and there's nothing I like more than an excuse to set my fingers googling. The towns of French Lick and West Baden are in Indiana and its where the mineral waters were bottled and sold as Pluto Water. I was going to post some images but, quite by coincidence,  Rowenna at Hyaline Prosaic had a post this morning all about this place so do visit and take a look. That domed ceiling really is gorgeous.

It's here that one of my favourite characters, long-time resident Anne McKinney comes each afternoon. Annie is in her eighties and her health is failing, she mourns the loss of her family and the fact she can no longer wear her 6 inch heels. But every day she comes and has a drink beneath the dome in the hotel and remembers the old days.
She is a weather spotter. All her life she has studied and kept records of the valley's weather patterns reading the changes in the clouds and the wind. She tells Eric "There's something in this area that's close to the earth, in the water, in the wind - that has a power. A special kind of energy in the air, maybe energy beyond the natural".

Eric already has the gift of being able to sense things about the past of places and the strange energy of the town heightens this ability. Just hours after his arrival, Eric starts experiencing vivid and disturbing visions. And as the days pass, he finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the town's dark history. He finds a friend in Kellen, another interested in the history of Campbell Bradford, and together they work to uncover the truth.

Great reading! It's the perfectly balanced mixture of an interesting setting, fascinating secondary themes and characters and a well-paced central story with just the right amount of horror and supernatural elements to make it exciting. I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to anyone who like a good suspense story.

Radiant Reviews is a new weekly meme hosted by Chrissie where you can link up reviews so take a moment to check it out.

Suspense/Thriller Challenge


  1. Nice review, even if the books doesn't really speak to me

  2. This sounds good - I haven't heard of it before, but I'm definitely intrigued enough to add it to my wishlist. Great review.

  3. Hi Cat,
    Thanks for taking part in Radiant Reviews :)
    Oooh, this sounds good! I don't really like the cover but the story sounds really intriguing! Plus, the pictures of that domed ceiling are amazing!

  4. This sounds great ... the setting and characters sound very rich.

  5. I liked it - good solid suspense.