Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Chill by Scott Carson

This was a book that caught my eye a few months ago. I was a few spots down the holds list at the library when our "quick pick" came in and I decided to snag it. Our quick pick titles are checked out for 10 days; no renewals and no holds. So you've got to get to it and read the book. That wasn't hard to do with The Chill.

Upstate New York. The Chilewaukee "Chill" Reservoir was built over 80 years before , destroying the town of Galesburg and burying it underneath the water. Yet the people of Galesburg didn't go peacefully, and they are ready, after all these years, to bring vengeance down on the city of New York. Except they're all dead. 

Hmm. For 80 plus years, the dam has worked really well. Yet some families who live and work around it are frightened--mostly from stories told by their parents and grandparents. Murder, betrayal, and pacts were made amongst the people of Galesburg, and finally the endless weeks of rain have pushed the capacity of the Chill close to maximum. The ghosts of those who died over the years are working, silently and without stopping, to destroy the dam and extract their revenge. Their plan is to break the dam, forcing the water to flow into other unused areas of the complex water system that runs from Upstate New York to the city. If their plan works, New York City will be dry--without water--and a crisis like no other will be unleashed. All for revenge, all those years ago. 

The story unfolds fairly quickly, with a shocking start, followed by some really weird stuff. Aaron Ellsworth, son of Sheriff Steve Ellsworth, has gotten into a bit of trouble, and his father is ready to send him to rehab. He was the star swimmer of Torrance, practicing in the cold, swift waters of The Chill for years to  perfect his swimming. Now, one last swim to prove to his father he's not a loser sets in motion the story as you, the reader, come into it. 

Aaron swims downstream, and then decides to walk back. He cuts his foot badly, and sees a man on the other side of the water. Asking him for help, he's confused when the man doesn't appear to want to help him. Aaron throws a bottle at him, hits his head, and watches, horrified, as the man falls into the water and is swept downstream. Aaron dives in, and searches frantically for the man, but can't find him. While he's diving, he finds another body--this one with chains attached, wearing a black ball over it's head. Horrified, he returns to shore, calls his father, and waits to be arrested. 

Sheriff Ellsworth arrives; hears Aaron's story, and prepares to deal with his son going to jail--this time for murder. But just as Aaron finishes his story, the man he claims to have killed walks up with no marks on his face. Mick Fleming, an engineer from New York City, is perfectly fine. He has no idea what Aaron is talking about. Mick Fleming's grandfather was the original designer of the dam, and was murdered by the people of Galesburg all those years ago. Mick Fleming knows the dam is in danger of structural failure, and has been frustrated by the lack of response by the powers that be to maintain the dam. But the Mick that drove up to the dam is not the Mick that is facing Aaron and his father. What the heck happened while he was walking around the reservoir?

This book was such a great story! 

I seriously had a hard time putting it down. It's all about respecting Mother Nature; respecting the land, and understanding history. Making choices for the greater good always costs someone dearly. It's most definitely about family legends and duties passed down through the generations, and deciding to break the chain. Is vengeance worth it, when it causes more death and destruction? 

It's also a heck of a good ghost story. 

Rating: 5/6 for a thriller that mixes nature, ghostly revenge, and history. Note to self: always live above the dam. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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