Dean R. Koontz, Author Alfred A. Knopf $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42525-0
Koontz's career has mirrored Stephen King's to a remarkable degree--the early pseudonymous novels, the bloated blockbusters, the increased use of horror as social commentary--albeit at a lag. Keeping step, this uncommonly sleek work is nothing less than Koontz's Gerald's Game: a distillation of what's come before and a slick play to regain the top by a writer whose popularity seemed to have peaked. Koontz even makes the centerpiece of Chyna Shepherd's battle against a serial killer her attempt to free herself from the restraints that bind her to a piece of furniture--the very same challenge faced by King's heroine. And just as Gerald's Game reinvigorated King's career and writing, this masterful, if ultimately predictable, exercise in high tension should do the same for Koontz's. This is basically a two-character novel, and both principals are compelling: the spirited Chyna, a youngish psychology student, and her nemesis, homicidal maniac Edgler Vess, who revels in sensation, be it pain or pleasure--in the intensity of experience. The two link when Vess kills Chyna's best friend as Chyna hides under a bed. Chyna pursues Vess but is eventually captured by him, after which she must combat not only those cuffs but also Vess's killer dogs, Vess himself and, of course, her own terror. For once, Koontz tamps down on his usual libertarian soapboxing to let the story race--which it does fast enough to give readers whiplash as they hold on to what may end up being the most viscerally exciting thriller of the year. 600,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
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Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-345-38436-2
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