Tuesday, August 25, 2009

They were all in love with watching, they were doing it in Texas

David Morrell is a prolific writer of adventure and horror stories. He is probably best known for writing First Blood, the basis for the Rambo movies. I greatly enjoyed his Creepers and have a few others on my bookshelf as well.

His latest is called the Shimmer and it is based on the Marfa lights. The lights, the origin of which is still unexplained (but may well be headlights in the distance), appear to some people but not to others and draw a number of visitors to this quiet corner of west Texas. Morrell uses this occurence and as the base for an entertaining sci-fi adventure tale. The lights are hynoptic in the book and those who see them are drawn to them, while those who can't become...troubled.

The story itself has elements of the X-files, Ace in the Hole, and the paranoid 70s film era. The main character is a cop, Dan Page, whose wife disappears. Turns out, she is in Rostov Texas where Page quickly heads. While there he becomes embroiled in an escalating crisis involving the lights and a secret government base located nearby. Quicker than you can say Trust No One, the cop and his wife find themselves in dire straits. Others are in a much worse place.

The emphasis here is on action. Morrell switches things up nicely more than once and gets the plot moving along. The book is more about the crazy adventure, than the characters, although I quite liked the back story of the mysterious and violent Colonel in charge of the base. I totally want to go to Marfa now.


kwandongbrian said...

It's weird: I remember one phrase or sentence from a Morrell book and it puts me of the whole lot of them. The sentence went something like, "All things fall at the same rate according to their mass but [name] was heavier than the broken glass so he was trailed to the ground by a sparkling tail."

If Morrell really doesn't understand basic physics, what else is screwed up in his books, I thought twenty years ago and haven't read another since.

On the other hand, I have read and enjoyed some of Jeff Long's books so maybe I am not the science-Nazi I used to be.

Tripp said...

Oh goodness, that one is quite unfortunate. This too was back in the era when books were actually edited as well.

What, you mean Jeff Long's visions of underground empires (or world killing plagues) are unrealistic to you?

kwandongbrian said...

I really enjoyed Year Zero and Descent, although the sequel seemed to define torture porn.

Still, there were times when I would put myself into the action and wonder what I would do differently. And his world is so wacky anything or nothing was possible,

Tripp said...

I adored Descent, but Year Zero bummed me out like almost no other book. Such a wicked touch with the Goodnight Moon at the end. Curse you Jeff Long.

The sequel was nowhere good as Descent for sure.

Have you looked at/read the Wall? It is a spooky mountain climbing story. Much smaller in scope than the other books, but worth a read.