A Vision of Fire
By Gillian Anderson (with Jeff Rovin)
Published by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 978 1471137709
The actress Gillian Anderson made her name in the cult 90s TV sci-fi series The X-Files, so it's hardly surprising that her first foray into fiction writing should be a gripping sci-fi novel. Anderson has made the canny move of teaming up with Jeff Rovin, a seasoned thriller writer, for her first novel.
Celebrity authors often use ghost writers when they move into print, and don't admit the fact; to Anderson's credit, she has, and her co-writer's name appears on the cover, too.
In A Vision of Fire, Anderson has penned a smart and stylish supernatural thriller. She wastes no time in grabbing her readers by the lapels and not letting go.
We are in New York. During a brief respite from tense meetings at the United Nations, an assassination attempt is made on the Indian ambassador. Gunmen open fire as Ganak Pawar is walking his daughter to school.
Ambassador Pawar survives the attack, but soon after arriving home, Maanik, his teenage daughter, begins to exhibit strange behaviour. She starts to have screaming fits and to shout words that no one recognises. The ambassador's personal translator calls in his friend, child psychiatrist Caitlin O'Hara to help the girl.
Caitlin finds Maanik's symptoms baffling and disturbing. The girl is raving in languages she cannot possibly know. What is going on?
Then weird things start happening elsewhere. Halfway across the globe in Iran, a teenage boy is dragged out of a fire that he started himself. On the Caribbean island of Haiti, a young girl is reported to have almost drowned while on dry land. The pair had also shown the same signs of mental disturbance as Maanik.
As Caitlin pulls together more facts about these strange cases, it becomes obvious that the three of them are linked. Some sinister force is at work, and Caitlin finds herself racing across the globe to not only save the lives of three teenagers, but also to head off a catastrophe that could affect the whole world.
Anderson adopts the slow-burn approach to the big reveal in her tale, and when the mystic elements kick in, sci-fi fans won't be disappointed. A Vision of Fire is a confident and engrossing read. Anderson obviously learned a lot about sci-fi and how to tell a story during her many years solving the mysteries of The X-Files.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com.