Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: So Cold The River by Michael Koryta

Tessa Bright Wildsmith

Eric Shaw had big movie-making dreams. Things haven’t worked out exactly as he had planned. Now he’s stuck making memorial films to play at funerals. At one funeral, he gets an offer from the deceased’s sister, Alyssa Bradford, to make a documentary about her dying, millionaire father-in-law, Campbell Bradford. The 95-year-old man’s history and upbringing is a mystery, even to his own family. She wants Eric to go to the man’s hometown and research his history. With few other offers, Eric can’t refuse.

Before Eric leaves, Alyssa gives him a antique bottle of water - Pluto Water. Pluto Water is produced in the quaint Indiana town of West Baden where Campbell Bradford grew up. There’s not much to the town except a grand hotel where movie stars, mobsters, politicians and athletes once mingled.

Immediately, things get strange for Eric. He sips the 80-year-old bottle of Pluto Water that once made the town so famous, and starts having visions of a Campbell Bradford that lived long ago. This is not the Campbell Bradford Eric was sent to research though. This Campbell Bradford is much older. Every time the visions wear off, Eric is left with a debilitating headache that can only be relieved by drinking more of the Pluto Water. As Eric continues to get visions, we learn more about the Campbell Bradford that once terrorized the people of West Baden. Something has a hold of Eric. He can barely function. He must find out if it’s the water, the town or old Campbell Bradford himself.

This book had a little bit of everything. It’s a paranormal thriller, without any vampires, werewolves or the like, but it’s also a good mystery with a little bit of historical fiction thrown in too. The town of West Baden and the hotel are almost characters by themselves. With a rich history that is fully explored, the town comes to life on the pages. Koryta prose is gripping and all-consuming. He sets a perfect pace throughout. His characters are complex and memorable. Even in visions, the long-dead Campbell Bradford is terrifying and intriguing.

With a stunning finale, Koryta gives the reader everything they could want, from heart-pounding thrills to blind-siding twists to rich depth and history. “So Cold The River” is a creepy, chilling tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Have you read “So Cold The River?” Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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