In the aftermath of a violent and bloody raid on a cocaine distribution warehouse in New York City in 1988, INS agent Henry Shelby discovers clues concerning a man who, he believes, might be the kingpin of the operation—and, possibly, an illegal in the US, making him Henry’s business. Following these clues up, he finds that a group of Americans, ten in all, accompanied this man on a flight to somewhere in Latin America, and that none of them ever returned. Henry and his assistant Martha Greene locate the pilot who flew them and, as he insists he cannot tell them where he took the group—it is not, he says, to be found on maps—but can show them, convince him to take them there. They plan on a simple “fly-over,” but their plane develops problems and they are forced to land. Henry soon finds himself not only taken captive by the people of the nearby village, but also immersed in a world he could not have imagined and cannot comprehend. His only thoughts are of escape.
At the same time, herpetologist Jeffrey Arnold, engaged in field studies of rattlesnakes in Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, makes his usual stop in the tiny village of San Miguel to visit his friend, Carla Contreras. He finds San Miguel changed since his last visit, and soon begins to suspect that the man behind these changes, Manuel Garibay, is restoring some of the practices of the ancient Aztecs of Mexico. In spite of his misgivings, he finds himself, guided by Carla, drawn more and more into the ways of the village.
And, in Pocatello, Idaho, Karen Sullivan wonders about the young man staying at her boarding house, a man who calls himself Tommy Neuse, a man who behaves in strange ways and seems to be able to see the future. When she witnesses him performing some sort of strange ritual in the hills, he leaves; but after he does, a woman turns up looking for him. She kidnaps Karen and takes her to New York City where she is held, she assumes, as some sort of “bait” for Tommy.
And in the end, Henry, Jeff, and Karen are all pulled toward San Miguel, toward incredible events none of them could have predicted…
The appendix to The Fire Within is included in Crystal Spiders. You can also read it here (warning: spoilers).
Crystal Spiders has now been published as an e-book, from Coatl Books, and is available from Amazon.com.