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The Shimmer / David Morrell

Vanguard Press / July 2009
Reviewed by: Blu Gilliand

In Marfa, Texas, people have reported seeing strange lights dance and swirl on the horizon. No one can explain where they come from, although theories ranging from radioactive gasses to static electricity have been floated. Similar lights have been seen in remote parts of Norway, Thailand, and Australia. Like those in Marfa, not everyone who seeks them finds them, and no one can explain them.

While the above information, which can be verified through hundreds of reports on the Internet, may seem like nothing more than a small item to stash in one’s “strange but true” file, it has become much more in the hands of master thriller writer David (First Blood, Creepers, Scavenger) Morrell. It’s become the basis for his new book, The Shimmer, a fast-as-lightning read that’s one of the most entertaining books of the summer.

In The Shimmer, the lights appear in the tiny town of Rostov, Texas. The town has made some meager attempt to cash in on the phenomenon, putting up a small observation area near the site of the lightshow. People gather there every night, some out of curiosity, some out of an irresistible calling that is beyond their ability to explain. And even when the lights appear, not everyone present sees them.

It is at this observation deck that Santa Fe police officer Dan Page finds his wife, Tori, after she leaves their home with no explanation. The relationship between the two is complicated, more so than even Dan realizes until the events in Rostov, and their attempts at reconciliation play out in a nice touch of realism against the backdrop of mayhem that arrives with the lights.

Morrell weaves several plotlines throughout the book: the military’s interest in the lights, an interest which threads back through many years and through three generations of one family; Rostov’s struggle to maintain order amid the chaos the lights invoke; an ambitious journalist’s determination to ride the story all the way to one of the major networks; and, as mentioned above, Dan Page’s struggle to save his wife and, ultimately, his marriage. Morrell juggles these different parts with an expert’s finesse, never dwelling on one so long that we lose track of what’s going on with the others. Each plotline builds and builds until everything dovetails in an action-drenched climax that’s over before you know it.

As for the lights themselves, Morrell wisely never discloses much about them. They are as much a mystery by the last page as they were on the first. And while the major plot points all reach some kind of resolution, the thing that drew them all together – those mysterious, shimmering balls of color that come out on some nights to dance – those are still out there, waiting for the characters, the authors and the readers to maybe one day come to watch them again.

Purchase The Shimmer by David Morrell. 

Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 05:23PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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