Sunday, May 16, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: So Cold the River

     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!


Jen Forbus said...

The gray areas of all MJK's characters are what make his writing so dynamic for me. But of course I'm a character reader. If the characters don't have depth and dimension, there isn't much hope for the book (for me anyway).

George, like you, I was leery about this being paranormal, but Michael pulls this off where not too many others would be able to...again, for me. I'm always the "Doubting Thomas" when it comes to paranormal/supernatural. But the strength of his writing really puts this book in a league of its own.

Evelyn said...

George, once I started it I had a hard time putting this book down. It reminded me a lot of The Shining by Stephen King.

Judylynn said...

I, too, thought it read like Stephen King. I read this one in two days! I loved it as well. It was my first time reading a Kortya novel.