Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Dean Koontz has always been a hit or miss for me. I find that the novels I do enjoy by him are either loathed or loved by others. Most of us can agree that he does have some good work out there. It also depends on you, the reader, and where you are in your reading cycle and what you want or expect from a story or an author. 

TheTaking was the first novel I have ever read by Mr. Koontz. I enjoyed the suspense and build-up. The ending left me a little dry, but it was my first introduction to the man, and I just had to come back for more.

The second novel I read: The House of Thunder. This one is still, to this day, my favorite novel by Koontz. Again, it all has to do with where I was in my life at the time and what I was looking for. He delivered. 

However, Fear Nothing was disappointingly boring. I was not engaged by the characters or the plot. I find that I feel that way about Koontz first point of view novels. He gets into the character’s head to the point that I want to get out. I never got into Odd Thomas because of the view point, or his newest novel, Innocence. Not that I dislike first POV. I just don’t like his take or his characters’ inner ramblings. 

A little history: Koontz was first published as a science fiction writer. He did some horror later. A lot of mix and match. But his line of thrillers, are to me, so much fun and entertaining. Engaging plot and the characters are always running until the very end. Fun, quick reads. The Good Guy is a great example of this. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. In it Koontz created one of the most interesting villains I have ever read. And so today, I’m taking a look at one of his fast-paced thrillers: Velocity


My hardback copy
Bill Wile is an easygoing, hardworking guy who leads a quiet, ordinary life. But that is about to change. One evening, after his usual eight-hour bartending shift, he finds a typewritten note under the windshield wiper of his car. If you don’t take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.


The novel is divided into three parts:  

Part One: The Choice Is Yours (Confusion and introduction to mayhem)
Part Two: Are You Prepared For Your Second Would? (Where the killer taunts Billy)
Part Three: All You Is How You Live (Where Billy races to save the woman he loves)

I read this entire book fast enough and most of that had to do with the easy and swift writing, short paragraphs, short chapters. And no purple prose. The MC is a run-of-the-mill everyday man who works at a bar. The novel starts with a very interesting story told by a customer to an out-of-towner about how his neighbor ended up dead. That intro alone is worth reading. 

Anyhow, what seems like just another regular day at work turns into a nightmare after Billy finishes his shift and finds a note on his windshield wiper:

     If you don't take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher somewhere in Napa County. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have six hours to decide. The choice is yours
 Billy Wiles is not sure if the note is a joke or if he should take it seriously. He doesn't pay too much mind to it until he receives another note and people start dying. The plot is set up quickly and the reader is left guessing who the killer might be from the few acquaintances in Billy's life: Jackie, the barkeep, Ivy, the young co-worker, the lawyer, Steve Zillis, another co-worker, his police officer friend, Lanny, who grew up with Billy...you start to suspect everyone and everyone could possibly have a motive.

Billy eventually suspects that someone wants Barbara's money. Barbara is his fiance. She has been in a coma for years due to a tragic accident. The lawsuit makes her rich. She can't use that money in her condition and others, like her own doctor, feel that her earned millions could go to a worthy cause instead of a comatose patient. But Billy is entrusted with her keep. He believes she will one day wake up. He visits her everyday, and on rare occasions, she mumbles words in her sleep that he doesn't understand, but sound poetic--or disturbing.

Meanwhile, the killer enjoys toying with Billy, and on occasion, hurting him, but Billy is not a stupid man. He analyzes and thinks his decisions through. I did find that at times the plot worked to his advantage a lot, especially toward the end where all the chips fell exactly where they needed to fall. I expected more, although the mystery and suspense is where the real fun of the story lies. The killer, or like Billy liked to call him, the freak, does give him clues here and there, some of the clues point to a specific someone in Billy's life. I won't say more. T.S Eliot is quoted a lot in the novel.

Dislikes: I was a little disappointed in the way some of the clues and the helpful tip he used to ultimately solve the puzzle were conveniently given to the MC by random folks without them even knowing. Like those movies where someone says just the right thing that makes a light bulb finally switch on in the main character's head. I also did not like how much time was wasted on leads that went nowhere, or how there just happened to be a huge, volcanic hole in the earth that few people knew about and Billy used to dispose of the bodies and evidence. A little too easy if you ask me.

Missed Potential: I do think the story could have delve more into Billy's dark past. It was hinted at for most of the story, but we never really knew more until the third part of the book. His parents' history  or even the officer who constantly harassed him as a boy were worthy of more time.

Liked: There is a great scene toward the end where Billy confronts the potential killer and doesn't realize he is using the same level of violence on the suspect as the killer had used on others--including himself. I think Billy's psychological decline is my favorite part of the story and how he has to struggle to keep his shit together all the way until the end.

If you are looking for a quick, enjoyable thriller, Velocity is a good novel.