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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Shimmer

Dan Page is having a bad day. Flying the small airplane he inherited from his father usually provides him with an escape from the pressures of being a Santa Fe policeman, but today Page finds himself involved in one of those high speed chases the news people so much love to follow while pretending they are not hoping for a chase-ending crash of some sort. This one does end in a crash and, despite having done everything correctly, Page cannot help but feel a bit guilty about his role in the chase as he heads home to his wife.

The problem is that his wife, Tori, is nowhere to be found, and she has left behind only a short note telling Page that she has gone to see her mother. Page’s confusion becomes genuine concern when a phone call to his mother-in-law reveals that Tori has chosen to drive the 800 miles to San Antonio rather than fly there. After she fails to arrive in San Antonio as scheduled, Page, who has alerted authorities to be on the lookout for Tori’s car, is more confused than ever to learn that his wife has stopped in the little West Texas town of Rostov.

Rostov, Texas, is no ordinary small town. The mysterious lights that have appeared just outside town most nights for more than 100 years have turned Rostov into a tourist attraction, and Tori Page is just one of many who have become mesmerized by their existence. Tori is so taken with the lights, in fact, that she finds it hard to wait for darkness and is oblivious to everything around her when her husband finds her in the viewing area provided for those in town to see the lights. What happens later that night is just the beginning of a nightmare that Dan and Tori Page will be lucky to survive.

Fans of David Morrell’s thrillers are not likely to be disappointed by The Shimmer, a novel involving elements of the supernatural, government plots to produce new super-weapons, religious fanatics, mass murder, miracles, and a handful of dedicated lawmen who never give up despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them.

The Shimmer is an action-packed thriller but it only works as well as it does because Morrell has peopled his plot with characters about whom the reader will care. It all begins with Tori and Dan Page, two ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances that make them realize how much they still love one another. Working with the Pages to solve the mystery of the lights, and to contain the nightly violence the lights cause, are some of Rostov’s finest citizens, including the local police chief, a deputy, and an antique dealer who knows as much about the lights and their history as anyone alive. Morrell’s use of flashbacks to the experiences previous generations had with the Rostov lights gives the book a realistic feel that makes its fantastic plot all the more thrilling.

This one will be a page-turner for thriller and sci-fi fans, alike.

Rated at: 3.5

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