So Cold the River - Michael Koryta Eric Shaw, a failed documentary maker is now trying to make a living filming weddings and funerals when he receives a strange request from a woman. Alyssa Bradford wants him to make a film about the life of her dying father in law, 95-year-old Chicago millionaire Campbell Bradford.
She offers Eric a very generous amount of money to travel to West Baden in Indiana to trace Campbell’s early years for the film. Alyssa also gives him a small bottle of water which the dying Campbell had kept his entire life.
The water, called Pluto Water, is from the mineral springs at West Baden and in its day, was rumoured to have miraculous healing powers.
Eric accepts the job and heads to West Baden and its neighbouring town the delightfully named French Lick with $5,000 in advance payment in his pocket and the bottle of Pluto Water which is strangely icy cold in the heat of Indiana.
Shaw gets curious and tastes the water and he begins to see strange things, horrifying things. It seems the town of West Baden has dark untold secrets and harbours an evil that lusts to regain its lost glory.
West Baden is famed for its West Baden Springs Hotel which on its construction in 1902 was called 'The Eight Wonder of the World' with its 200 foot high dome atrium. When Eric he sees the West Baden’s spectacular rotunda, Eric thinks of Stephen King and “The Shining” and starts smiling. “It had everything a filmmaker desired — beauty, grandeur, size, history and, at least for Eric tonight, a King-size dose of creepy,” Brilliant!
Similarities to Stephen King are mentioned in many so reviews and I can see why... a town with secrets, lots of spooky menace, solid storytelling which flows along nicely and well drawn characters.
However I did think that there were perhaps too many diverse characters that seemed superfluous to the story and it was as if once the author had introduced them he didn’t really know what to do with them all!
I loved the character of Anne McKinney, a tenacious 86 years old, repository of the town’s history and amateur meteorologist.
She begins to notice a change in the weather since Eric’s arrival; maybe the storm, ‘The Big One’ she's been predicting and waiting for all her life will finally make an appearance.

"I've always connected it more to the weather myself...there's something different in this valley...You can feel it in the wind now and again, and on the edge of a summer storm, or maybe just before ice comes down in the wintertime. There's something different. And charge is the best word for it. There's a charge, all right."

A good, solid piece of American Gothic that slowly pulls you in and once it has you, the story builds like an impending storm, full of threat and menace.