Back to mainstream authors for this one.
Tough review to write because I feel like a disloyal wife. In a sentence, I can say that this book was okay. That stings because Koontzie has been my life-long favourite author. Sticking with the spousal analogy, it’s like a marriage that has lost its sparkle. This book took me three weeks to read. I’m busy, I didn’t have a lot of time, but in the old days, I would have devoured a Koontzie in less than 48 hours.
My love was first tarnished with the Jon Snow books (is that even his name, the guy with RP?) And then I wasn’t keen on Odd Thomas. And since then, it’s all got a bit samey and passively wishy-washy. It was okay. The story was okay. If I didn’t get to it that night—it was okay.
I wanted to love it and rip the pages over in my haste to get to the next one, forget to feed the dog, let the bath overflow and generally forget to breathe—but it was okay. I think I’m ready for an affair with a new author. The best book I read in 2020 was The Fourth Monkey by J D Barker. If I had a Koontzie and a Barker in front of me, I’d go for the Barker, hands down.
I’ve always loved Koontz’s passion for 3 standards; a love pairing, a ten-year-old boy, and a golden retriever. He understands these things minutely and writes them so well. I love his humour. His joy of life—he comes across as a thoroughly nice man. He sees the good in good people. No matter how dark his books get, there is always a feel-good vibe about them.
There is no grey. Good people are very good, and bad people are very bad. After being loyal for over thirty years, and pretending that it’s still all good—I want some shading.
Honing my point to the problem. So many of his books have a man, a woman, a ten-year-old boy and a golden retriever. Write what you know. He writes them brilliantly.
But they are all the same people.
Odd Thomas and the ice-cream girl are twenty years younger than Megan and Ben in Devoted—but they are the same people. They have the same traits and characteristics. And the same two characters appear in Lightning and countless other books. Kip, the dog, is the same golden retriever as in Lightning. He’s got a different name, he’s thirty years older, and he’s learned some new tricks—cool tricks, but he’s the same loyal, loving pooch as in ten other books. Woody is the same boy as the one that talks to the hitchhiker in—I’ve forgotten.
I’m an old grouch. Let me tell you about Dean Koontz’s books. For people who haven’t read a hundred and fifty-three of them, they are fantastic. If this is your first experience of a Koontzie, do not be put off by my grump. I hope you will love it. You will probably turn the pages faster than a machine operator on piecework. He writes with such joy and passion. He knows people and writes them intimately, getting into the corners of their psyche and turning them inside out so that you can see them as he does. He’s a funny guy. Some of his kids have a natural sass, and their one-liners can be spellbinding. Even his dogs are funny. He loves animals, especially dogs, and again he understands how they tick. I can’t urge you strongly enough to give this book a go—I bet you love it.
Me? I’m ready to sell my car and buy a shiny new one—maybe. Or maybe I’ll give it one more spin around the block.
Katherine Black / Susan (Sooz) Simpson
Founder of Best Book Editors
Katherine has held almost every single job imaginable, from painting gnomes to zookeeper. She spent most of her life in the caring profession and has managed both a nursing home and a care agency. But her passion for the written language always brings her home to novel writing.
Born in Tyne-and-Wear, North-East England, she has settled in the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria, with her partner, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and a python (just don’t ask her which of those six things is her favourite!).
She specialises in content creation and social media outreach, and has been a developmental editor for hundreds of clients. She owns and operates bestbookeditors.com where she helps foundling authors polish their skills. However, after being diagnosed with a dramatic brain condition in 2022, she has had to let 23 staff go, and scale back the business. BBE is still very much open, we are just fewer and can’t take as much work on.
Katherine Black is the author of psychological thriller/detective/fantasy adventure novels.