I came across this book last weekend. I had a free hour or so before meeting up with some friends in Boston, and since I had already been there for a while, I wandered over to the Borders in Downtown Crossing for a book and a snack, and after some intense deliberation I ended up with Cold Fire.
The basic premise here is this: Jim Ironheart, a thirty-something guy from southern California, has a mysterious savior complex that allows him to know when and where someone will be in danger, and how to save them. He doesn’t know where this power comes from or why he is the instrument through which it works; he avoids all publicity and has no close relationships. That is, until he saves a young boy in front of Holly Thorne, a reporter from Portland. As they are drawn to each other, seemingly by the same mysterious force that sends Jim flying about the country saving people he doesn’t know, they are faced with a dark revelation: just what, exactly, is working through Jim—and is it as benevolent as it seems?
I don’t have much to say about this book except that I enjoyed it. Not one of Koontz’s best by a long shot, but certainly nowhere near his worst. There were plenty of twists and it was paced very well—kept me on my toes throughout, and did a good job of preventing me from getting any work done. The story was creative, for sure, and as usual, did a good job of incorporating Koontz’s usual themes of love and faith.
One part that I was disappointed wasn’t explored more was early in the book, where Jim saves a young woman and her daughter, and then rides off into the Mojave desert on a motorcycle. He ends up suffering from severe heatstroke, and is nursed back to health by a priest. The priest decides to take Jim’s care into his own hands because—get this—when he finds Jim unconscious in his church, he discovers that Jim is marked by stigmata: nail holes in each of his palms and feet, scrapes around his forehead that could have come from a crown of thorns, and a gash in his side that could have come from a spear.
But then that’s it. The priest reveals this to Jim as he rushes him to the airport on another of his strange missions. I don’t think the stigmata ever come up again; it’s definitely not part of the big revelation at the end. It definitely drew me in, but since it never came up again, it just seems out of place now.
I did like the book, though. Didn’t love it, but it kept me occupied, which is sometimes all I can ask for.