Judith Sheffield is a teacher at an inner-city high school with troubled students. One day, her Aunt Rita calls from Borrego, New Mexico, where she grew up, to offer her a job as a teacher, after the previous teacher had a stroke. Judith jumps at the chance and moves back.
Borrego is a small town in which most of the townspeople work at the old oil refinery. Borrego borders an old Indian reservation and the townspeople do not get along well with the Indians.
Upon her return, Judith is reunited with her Aunt Rita, Uncle Max, who owns much of the town and the refinery, and Rita’s nephew, Dr. Mooreland, an old crush and now town doctor.
Judith befriends Frank Arnold, foreman at the refinery, and his son Jed, whose mother was Indian, which makes him an outcast in both communities, resulting in many fights.
Max dies while driving and the refinery is sold to a big corporation, causing a big upheaval.
Judith becomes suspicious when the corporation and Dr. Mooreland have the town’s students take flu shots when no epidemic exists. After she discovers that the flu shots don’t really contain flu vaccine, the corporation and Dr. Mooreland want to shut her and others up.
It’s up to Jed Arnold, his grandfather, Brown Eagle, and Peter, Judith’s scientist friend, to find out what is going on with the town’s children acting like drones, mysterious strokes & deaths, and rescue Judith and the town from one scientist’s vision of a perfect world of slave-like people.
This was a quick read that I couldn’t stop reading until it was over.
The characters are very likeable with great depth, especially Judith and Jed.
The southwestern backdrop offers terrific imagery and the added culture clash, which adds to the realism of the characters.
The ending is good but I wish it had an epilogue which told us what happened to the corporation after Jed saved the day. Saved the day isn’t exactly correct because many of the good guys are dead by the end. It’s not the happiest of endings.
This 1990 novel blends sci-fi and horror with drama to create a simple, yet solid story that is sure to please genre and Saul fans. It feels very Koontz-like.