Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.
One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn't safely under cover. 'Rain' explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.
In 'Loaded' a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it...
'Snapshot, 1988' tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories...
And in 'Aloft' a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero's island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.
Hill (The Fireman) delivers on the "strange" in this collection of four novellas, stretching from horror to magical realism to a straight thriller. In "Snapshot," Hill allegorizes the damage of dementia when preteen Michael must protect his elderly neighbor, Shelly, from the Polaroid Man, who takes away memories with the flash of his camera. He changes genres with "Loaded," a drama in which gun violence draws together a local journalist who witnessed her adopted brother's murder by a cop, an adulterous couple with a fondness for guns, and a dishonorably discharged veteran turned mall cop who suspiciously saves the day at a mall shooting. In "Aloft," a man decides to skydive to impress the woman he loves, but a bizarre crash leaves him stranded on a cloud, where he must face the truth about what loneliness is and how desire can obscure reality. In "Rain," crystal shards fall from the sky, killing thousands; a woman travels from Boulder to Denver in the middle of the storms to check on her girlfriend's family, dodging comet cultists and figuring out whether this disaster is related to climate change or chemical warfare. Hill's collection may not be as horrific as his earlier 20th-Century Ghosts, but its ideas have powerful emotional and political resonance.