Author: Michael Koryta
Where Word Nerd’s Copy Came From: ARC from Little Brown, received at Bouchercon 2009
Plot Basics: Eric Shaw’s career as a filmmaker isn’t what he thought it would be, reduced now to making memorial videos for funerals. A woman hires him to make a retrospective about her wealthy father-in-law who’s on his deathbed. She sends Eric to West Baden, Indiana, with only the barest details about the family history and a mysterious bottle of mineral water. As Eric investigates, strange forces begin to emerge that could destroy Eric and West Baden.
Banter Points: Why the heck did I wait so long to read this book? Thanks to the Eight-Up system, I put this one firmly into the TBR pile and it came up.
Koryta crafted a heck of a story that had me eager for it to be lunch time ( my prime hour of daily reading). The story built and built, the tension rising until the whole thing couldn’t help but come crashing down in an exciting finish. It reminded me of an X-File, not the gross monster-of-the-week ones (no Fluke Man here!) but the
Interestingly, my favorite character was not the main character, it was the secondary character of Anne McKinney, the old town resident who was a small link to the town’s past and provides an anchor between what’s real and what’s not real in the story. From the first time she’s introduced (having a daily gin and tonic at the hotel — in truth more tonic than gin) it’s clear she’s a spunky old lady who’s going to stand her ground against whatever is coming.
The great part of this book is how rooted in place it is. I haven’t yet been to the West Baden Springs Hotel, but from what I know of southern Indiana, it’s spot on. Also, he used the real history of the hotel’s restoration as part of the back story for the book, giving the whole thing an air of realism.
Bummer Points: For all the great plot, his characters were a little two-dimensional for me. It’s not really a character driven book, it’s a plot book, so there’s some forgiveness here.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Even though it’s a few years old, this is a new “pusher” book for me to people who like well-crafted plots that edge a little to the spooky side. I gave my ARC to my dad.