The Shimmer by David Morrell starts off with Dan Page, known to his friends as Page, flying his Cessna 172 in pursuit of an armed assailant fleeing a killing between drug dealers. It is his day off and he was flying for relaxation – “getting above it all” as he puts it – until the call came through about the chase which ends with an accident and fiery explosion of the SUV and a tanker truck.
When Page arrives home, he finds a note from his wife Tori simply stating “Gone to see my mother.” Knowing nothing about the trip, Page immediately phones Tori’s mother, Margaret. Margaret informs him that she was just as surprised when Tori called to say that she was coming and that she would be sure to let him know when she arrives. The next day, when Margaret has not seen or heard from Tori, Page contacts the police station where he works and puts out a missing person report.
Page is soon contacted by Police Chief Roger Costigan in Rostov, Texas who tells him that his wife is fine and that she is at the police station. However, he cannot give Page any more details and asks him to come down and see what is going for himself. Sparing no time, Page immediately takes off in his plane for Rostov, Texas.
Tori finds herself in Rostov after remembering a phenomenon called the Rostov Lights on her way to her mother’s house. When she was a child, her family had stopped in Rostov for a bathroom break and Tori had witnessed the lights. She is not sure what made her remember the lights, but is compelled to travel back to them. When Page arrives in Rostov, he finds Tori in a strange trance. She is watching the lights and seems fascinated by them, telling him how beautiful they are.
On a secret military base nearby, Col. Warren Raleigh arrives. He is part of a unit investigating the lights to see what, if any, assistance they are to military weaponry and also to find out what the lights actually are. After one onlooker goes berserk and kills many others, the country finds out about Rostov, Texas and the lights, and the little town is bombarded with tourists and fanatics who believe that the lights can heal sickness and disease.
While the lights are never fully explained in the book, much is learned. Can faith really heal? Does everything have an explanation? How far are you willing to go to reach your goals? Should some things be kept quiet and left alone or should you share them with the world?