The Shimmer

By David Morrell

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Vanguard Press, 2009

Genres: Adventure, suspense, thriller, paranormal

ISBN: 9781593155803

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 423 (including Afterword, Acknowledgements, and About the Author)

Setting: Rostov, TX

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: When Santa Fe police officer, Dan Page, returns home one day he discovers that his wife, Tori, has suddenly left him.  As he tries to figure out why she left  and where she is, he learns that she stopped in the small West Texas town of Rostov while driving to visit her mother in San Antonio, Texas.  While few people have ever heard of Rostov, the few that have know that the town is infamous for the inexplicable lights which appear at night outside of town.  Even though the government has been secretly studying the lights and their effects for years, nobody knows what cause the lights and not everyone can see them.

As Dan attempts to understand Tori’s fascination with the lights, a crazed gunman starts shooting at a busload of people who were viewing the lights.  It turns out that this is not the first time that someone has responded violently to the effects of the lights; however, this is the first time that the violence is mentioned in conjunction with the lights on national news.  As curiosity draws even more people to the town of Rostov, events become even crazier from the unexplained phenomena.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Very fast

Characterization: Told in third person from multiple perspectives.  The primary perspective is Page’s; other perspectives include a newspaper reporter, soldier, and army intelligence officer.

Frame: The frame is set by the title, which refers to a quivering or vibrating motion or image.  Often times when one sees something shimmer, it calls for a double take to determine if what one is seeing is real or imaginary.  The root of this word refers to both shining and growing dark; this correlates to the effects of the lights on various individuals throughout the story.

Story line: An exciting story involving paranormal elements, secret government research, and the effects of unknown forces upon everyday people.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Supernatural — Fiction.

Spectators — Fiction.

Military bases — Fiction.

Texas — Fiction.

Suspense fiction.

Similar works: (suggested on NoveList’s “Recommended Reads – Supernatural Thrillers” by Kimberly Burton)

Jan Burke – The Messenger

John Burnside – The Glister

Daniel Hecht – City of Masks: A Cree Black Thriller

Alice Hoffman – The Probable Future

Lisa Jackson – Wicked Game

Personal notes: While I enjoyed this book, the ending made me laugh. I read this for a book group discussion on the adventure genre.  While I was reading, I had been thinking about adventure being called “romance for men”.  While I’m not sure about that general assessment of the genre, this book in particular seemed to be a romance for men.  It happily ends with a kiss.  I also found it fascinating that this story is based upon mysterious lights which appear outside of the West Texas town of Marfa.

Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – Latina camerawoman

David Morrell’s website


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