Number of pages: 264
Charles Grant's second X-Files novelisation opens with the discovery of skinned corpses in the New Mexico desert, setting up what appears to be a standard serial killer novel. It would also appear that the killer is the sinister Leon Ciola, who shows up quite early in the book.
But, this being The X-Files, the story lurches into Stephen King-esque supernatural territory, with the only major fault in the novel being that its title will probably give you a big hint as to what the actual cause is, as well as this quote from the plot synopsis:
They were victims of a natural disaster. One of the most unnatural natural disasters imaginable, leading to a most painful, most certain, and most hideous death....
This isn't a perfect book, and I never enjoyed Charles Grant's fan novels as much as the later ones by Kevin J. Anderson, but Mulder and Scully do at least get some good lines in, with one of my favourites being the banter about the amount of clothes that Scully packs when travelling.
I liked that fact that Charles Grant managed once again to think of a concept that had not been used in the show (there isn't really anything similar to this in the whole series), and it does built up to a decent finale, although the resolution is a bit vague and open to interpretation.
[Spoiler (click to open)]
When a storm nearly kills Mulder and Scully, their life is saved by Mulder shooting a mysterious bag, the contents of which are never revealed, but which is presumably some sort of mystical charm.
Indeed, Mulder and Scully themselves seem to be still a bit baffled for the reasons for the murders, although the final chapter has some moments that are wonderfully sinister, and almost surreal. It does at least fit in with the show's penchant for including mysteries that remain completely unsolved.
Next book: Holy Cow (David Duchovny)