A gothic horror story set in—wait for it—rural Indiana.
Filmmaker Eric Shaw, reduced to preparing video montages for memorial services since the failure of his Los Angeles career caused him to retreat to Chicago and leave his marriage to Claire, is approached by wealthy Alyssa Bradford, who offers him $15,000 to re-create the life of her father-in-law, Campbell, 95 and near death in a nursing home. The only clue to his past is a green glass bottle, still stoppered, that he’s kept in his safe—a bottle of something called Pluto Water from some hidden spring between the twin towns of French Lick and West Baden, Ind. Quicker than Stephen King conjures goosebumps, Shaw finds himself hearing train whistles, having visions of an old gent in a bowler hat and suffering world-class headaches. Kellen Cage, a black student working on a doctoral thesis concerning French Lick and West Baden, offers some help. Meanwhile, the last Bradford, ne’er-do-well Josiah, hopes that the video may bring him money. The weather turns ominous. Shaw’s headaches worsen. His scary visions continue. Would a sip of that reputed elixir, Pluto Water, help? As the visions intensify, Josiah turns more menacing, killing with no provocation a private eye sent from Chicago to stop Shaw. Old Anne, a weather spotter, senses that the wind is up. Shaw becomes obsessed with finding out more about Pluto Water. But four tornados will hit the county within an hour, the Lost River will rise and a major conflagration will almost annihilate Claire before the Campbell past is bottled up tight once more.
A departure from Kortya’s Lincoln Perry p.i. series (The Silent Hour, 2009, etc.) that’s every bit as well-written.