Tor, Apr 2003, 15.95, 352 pp.
Needing closure by burying the specter of his wife who accidentally fell off the cliffs near Empire, Oregon, Russell Kent returns to the village with plans to compose an opera focusing on Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. However, ghosts haunt his sleep as he dreams of his deceased spouse as well as the town and its residents.
Feeling a bit guilty, Russell has an affair with Megan Sumner, the owner of the bed and breakfast he is staying at. He also begins to meet many of the residents, but feels uneasy as he senses everyone shares a dark secret except him. Russell finds a thirst to learn the undisclosed as he starts questioning anything and everything for everyday occurrences here in Empire seem slightly off center or eccentric.
This is a strong fantasy suspense thriller that builds the tension to extremely high levels as readers accompany the hero with a need to know the truth. The story line is loaded with action and filled with an assortment of characters that manage to make the everyday appear eerie. However, the climax feels abrupt as a series of inexplicable disclosures with few or no real clues occur in a very short stretch as if a page limit barrier was hit. Still, David Herter displays his talent to keep the thrill at its acme and the need to know even higher in this powerful fantasy suspense tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner