I have been a fan of author Michael Koryta since, Tonight I Said Goodbye, the first of a four book series featuring private detective Lincoln Perry. Since then Mr. Koryta's writing has gotten better with each effort. His stand-alone, Envy the Night, is all the evidence anyone needs to be convinced that Mr. Koryta has become an author with a big future ahead of him, in the same league as Michael Connelly, Dennis LeHane, and James Lee Burke.
When I heard that Mr. Koryta's latest book, So Cold the River, was going in a slightly different direction, I was skeptical. It is, I was told, still a mystery, but has a mystical or super-natural element included. So, while I had confidence in Mr. Koryta's writing, I didn't know if it would be for me.
I loved the book, and the super-natural element was easy to believe, not too far out of this world, and made the book fantastically captivating. Although it is about five hundred pages, it is a great, stimulating, captivating read that moves quickly.
It starts with Eric Shaw, a former up and comer in Hollywood. After losing favor there, he returns to his hometown and finds himself estranged from his wife, angry with his powerful father-in-law, and barely making ends meet filming weddings and other events. His work catches the attention of a guest at one of the weddings, and she hires Mr. Shaw for a special project, a gift for her husband: to learn the life story and make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, whose past is a mystery that originated in West Baden Springs, Indiana. A clue to the mystery is an old bottle of mineral water, Pluto Water.
Mr. Shaw reluctantly takes the assignment, and becomes immediately fascinated with the Pluto Water, which was rumored to cure a wide variety of ailments. Eventually, his curiosity gets the better of him, and Mr. Shaw takes a sip, just a sip, and has visions of West Baden Springs of old, visions that start telling a story that he can't stay away from. A story of a different, an infamous, Campbell Bradford, who left a family behind in West Baden Springs, never heard from again.
The book tells the stories of two times, one in the past, one in the present, but both very real, and building towards a powerful collision. Mr. Koryta has done another great job developing dynamic and believable characters and relationships. Even some of the more unsavory characters have some good, or at least endearing, qualities. His writing is amply descriptive but never so detailed as to become boring. And although this book hasn't been released yet, I'm already looking forward to the next one!