09 February 2011

Review: So Cold the River | Michael Koryta

This is the first book I've read by author Michael Koryta,
although he has written six so far in his career and has been the recipient of many awards and prizes in his field. Koryta is a former reporter and private investigator and this becomes evident in the creation of his main character in So Cold the River, Eric.

Eric Shaw is a film maker, who has fallen out of the Hollywood movie scene and finds himself making funeral videos. He's always had a special gift of insight which is evident in his work. Eric is hired by a woman belonging to a rich family to produce a documentary of the life of her Father-in-Law; who is sadly on his death bed. Eric meets Campbell Bradford once before travelling to West Baden to document his upbringing which until now has been a secret to the family.

West Baden is located in a valley with mysterious mineral springs which form the lost river, flowing both above ground and underground. I think the creepiest parts of the book are Koryta's descriptions of the whirlpool, where the lost river both comes to the surface and disappears beneath the rock again, creating a rising and falling circular whirlpool of great proportions. Creepy!

Eric drinks from a mysterious 100 year old bottle of Pluto water from the springs and begins to experience visions and a subtle paranormal theme begins to emerge. (Don't worry, there aren't any vampires). As Eric begins to investigate the history of the Bradford family, he has no idea what else he's stirring up.

My favourite quote from this book was as follows:

"Must be nice to have a bank ledger where your ethics should be, Gavin. You'll probably go on to big things. Most people like that do."

On the jacket, Koryta's work is compared to that of one of my favourite authors, Stephen King. I scoffed at this initially, but it did influence me to read the book; definitely effective advertising. Now having finished So Cold the River, I am surprised to find I don't mind the comparison at all, and I think Koryta is definitely an author to watch. The mystery and suspense had me reading long into the night, and the novel's subtle supernatural touch reminded me of Stephen King's The Green Mile.

I'd definitely recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a thriller, suspense and mystery and I'm looking forward to reading more of Koryta's work when I can get the time.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

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