Bloomington crime novelist Michael Koryta's new novel "So Cold the River" earned qualified praise this week from the New York Times, with Janet Maslin calling the book a "calculatingly spooky" "eerie narrative" that uses the West Baden Springs Hotel as the basis of Koryta's "own personal version of 'The Shining.'"
She also notes that, while the novel seems over-packed with "alarmed or alarming human characters," the haunted water remains the most compelling, Koryta (or Mr. Koryta) getting "his best effects from exploring Pluto Water’s occult properties and making readers wonder what odd tricks it will do next." The 27-year-old author's work (which now totals six novels) has been included in "crime" novel roundups in the Times before, but this is the first time his stuff has been featured so prominently (in a weekday review by long-time Times film critic Maslin).
We, by the way, featured Koryta on the cover of NUVO in Oct. 2009 before his appearance at the big-time mystery convention Bouchercon, held last year in Indianapolis. Barb Shoup's profile included a few words by Koryta on the subject of his latest work.
"His next book, So Cold the River, is a ghost story set in French Lick and West Baden, in southern Indiana. 'I’m entranced with the history of that place, the fact that the grains and the mineral springs built it and the trains and the mineral springs are gone. It floats out there in the middle of nowhere. I spent a number of years trying to come up with a straight crime novel that would be set down there, but nothing was clicking. I was emphatic that it had to bridge eras, and eventually I realized the best way to bridge eras was a ghost story. I also wanted to do something I’d never done before.'
'Lehane’s a very good example in that regard,' he went on. 'He was coming off such a peak with Mystic River—if he’d done a book a year in the crime genre he would’ve become an absolute franchise. Instead he takes five years off to write The Given Day, a 500-page historical novel. The most important thing to him was writing the book he wanted to write. I admire that tremendously.'"