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Dean Koontz has long been one of the best-selling American authors, and yet until I picked up this book, I was not in the least familiar with him. It may be that — unlike his comtemporaries Stephen King, John Grisham, and James Patterson — his books have never been successfully translated to film. Interestingly, what drew me to this book was the cover of a hardback edition: simply black with a post-it note reading “Kill me instead”.
If this book is any indication of Koontz’s general style, he is fond of exploring the motivations of his characters. In this novel – a through-and-through thriller – he carefully reveals elements of the three main characters’ backstories over the course of the novel. The careful parceling of this information contributes well to the suspense generated by the story.
And the story itself is admirably intriguing. Timothy Carrier is a quiet man, who bears a resemblance to a contract killer. When their paths cross, Tim is sucked into a situation that upends his meticulously plotted life as a master stonemason. He attempts to prevent the killing of a woman (Linda Pacquette) he doesn’t know. Because she doesn’t know why anyone would want her dead, the killer’s motives because vital to the story – and both terrifying and fascinating. Koontz plots the novel well, preventing long stretches without action, and giving the reader just enough information in each short chapter to make us want to read just one more before putting the book down.
As Tim and Linda flee from the killer, questions about all three characters are cleared up, and the mystery behind the contract is revealed. The story is very intriguing, but the final result suffers from wrapping up a little too quickly and a little too neatly. Nonetheless, the book will likely keep your interest, and certainly underscores the reasons for Koontz’s popularity. I know I will not hesitate to check out another of his books.