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3.5 465
by Dean Koontz

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In the stillness of a golden September afternoon, deep in the wilderness of the Rockies, a solitary craftsman, Grady Adams, and his magnificent Irish wolfhound, Merlin, step from shadow into light . . . and into an encounter with mystery. That night, a pair of singular animals will watch Grady’s isolated home, waiting to make their approach.

A few miles away,


In the stillness of a golden September afternoon, deep in the wilderness of the Rockies, a solitary craftsman, Grady Adams, and his magnificent Irish wolfhound, Merlin, step from shadow into light . . . and into an encounter with mystery. That night, a pair of singular animals will watch Grady’s isolated home, waiting to make their approach.

A few miles away, Camillia Rivers, a local veterinarian, begins to unravel the threads of a puzzle that will bring to her door all the forces of a government in peril.

At a nearby farm, long-estranged identical twins come together to begin a descent into darkness. . . . In Las Vegas, a specialist in chaos theory probes the boundaries of the unknowable. . . . On a Seattle golf course, two men make matter-of-fact arrangements for murder. . . . Along a highway by the sea, a vagrant scarred by the past begins a trek toward his destiny.

In a novel that is at once wholly of our time and timeless, fearless and funny, Dean Koontz takes readers into the moment between one turn of the world and the next, across the border between knowing and mystery. It is a journey that will leave all who take it Breathless.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Koontz (Relentless) delivers a hard-to-classify stand-alone set near the Rocky Mountains that will appeal more to fans of his Odd Thomas books than those partial to his Hitchcockian thrillers. While out for a walk, reclusive Grady Adams and his wolfhound, Merlin, spot two white furry animals “as large as midsize dogs” and “as quick and limber as cats” that aren't like anything previously known to science. The sudden arrival of these mysterious creatures out of the blue appears to be linked to several other baffling phenomena. Meanwhile, a sadist, Henry Rouvroy, tracks down his identical twin, James, and kills him and James's wife in order to assume his brother's identity. After the murders, Rouvroy is unsettled by evidence that the dead have not stayed dead. Koontz's cryptic dedication to Aesop (“twenty-six centuries late and with apologies for the length”) may hold the key to what's going on, but readers are likely to find the moral of this peculiar tale, if there is one, obscure. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
“Without a doubt, Koontz is America’s #1 author of thrillers.” —The Denver Post

“One of the most important novelists writing today.”—National Review

“Another gripping novel laced with both high adventure and suspense.”—Tucson Citizen
“An original and enchanting novel.”—Lincoln Journal Star

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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Chapter One

A moment before the encounter, a strange expectancy overcame Grady Adams, a sense that he and Merlin were not alone.

In good weather and bad, Grady and the dog walked the woods and the meadows for two hours every day. In the wilderness, he was relieved of the need to think about anything other than the smells and sounds and textures of nature, the play of light and shadow, the way ahead, and the way home.

Generations of deer had made this path through the forest, toward a meadow of grass and fragrant clover.

Merlin led the way, seemingly indifferent to the spoor of the deer and the possibility of glimpsing the white flags of their tails ahead of him. He was a three-year-old, 160-pound Irish wolfhound, thirty-six inches tall, measured from his withers to the ground, his head higher on a muscular neck.

The dog’s rough coat was a mix of ash-gray and darker charcoal. In the evergreen shadows, he sometimes seemed to be a shadow, too, but one not tethered to its source.

As the path approached the edge of the woods, the sunshine beyond the trees suddenly looked peculiar. The light turned coppery, as if the world, bewitched, had revolved toward sunset hours ahead of schedule. With a sequined glimmer, afternoon sun shimmered down upon the meadow.

As Merlin passed between two pines, stepping onto open ground, a vague apprehension—a presentiment of pending contact—gripped Grady. He hesitated in the woodland gloom before following the dog.

In the open, the light was neither coppery nor glimmering, as it had appeared from among the trees. The pale-blue arch of sky and emerald arms of forest embraced the meadow.

No breeze stirred the golden grass, and the late-September day was as hushed as any vault deep in the earth.

Merlin stood motionless, head raised, alert, eyes fixed intently on something distant in the meadow. Wolfhounds were thought to have the keenest eyesight of all breeds of dogs.

The back of Grady’s neck still prickled. The perception lingered that something uncanny would occur. He wondered if this feeling arose from his own intuition or might be inspired by the dog’s tension.

Standing beside the immense hound, seeking what his companion saw, Grady studied the field, which gently descended southward to another vastness of forest. Nothing moved . . . until something did.

A white form, supple and swift. And then another.

The pair of animals appeared to be ascending the meadow less by intention than by the consequence of their play. They chased each other, tumbled, rolled, sprang up, and challenged each other again in a frolicsome spirit that could not be mistaken for fighting.

Where the grass stood tallest, they almost vanished, but often they were fully visible. Because they remained in motion, however, their precise nature was difficult to define.

Their fur was uniformly white. They weighed perhaps fifty or sixty pounds, as large as midsize dogs. But they were not dogs.

They appeared to be as limber and quick as cats. But they were not cats.

Although he’d lived in these mountains until he was seventeen, though he had returned four years previously, at the age of thirty-two, Grady had never before seen creatures like these.

Powerful body tense, Merlin watched the playful pair.

Having raised him from a pup, having spent the past three years with little company other than the dog, Grady knew him well enough to read his emotions and his state of mind. Merlin was intrigued but puzzled, and his puzzlement made him wary.

The unknown animals were large enough to be formidable predators if they had claws and sharp teeth. At this distance, Grady could not determine if they were carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores, though the last classification was the least likely.

Merlin seemed to be unafraid. Because of their great size, strength, and history as hunters, Irish wolfhounds were all but fearless. Although their disposition was peaceable and their nature affectionate, they had been known to stand off packs of wolves and to kill an attacking pit bull with one bite and a violent shake.

When the white-furred creatures were sixty or seventy feet away, they became aware of being watched. They halted, raised their heads.

The birdless sky, the shadowy woods, and the meadow remained under a spell of eerie silence. Grady had the peculiar notion that if he moved, his boots would press no sound from the ground under him, and that if he shouted, he would have no voice.

To get a better view of man and dog, one of the white creatures rose, sitting on its haunches in the manner of a squirrel.

Grady wished he had brought binoculars. As far as he could tell, the animal had no projecting muzzle; its black nose lay in nearly the same plane as its eyes. Distance foiled further analysis.

Abruptly the day exhaled. A breeze sighed in the trees behind Grady.

In the meadow, the risen creature dropped back onto all fours, and the pair raced away, seeming to glide more than sprint. Their sleek white forms soon vanished into the golden grass.

The dog looked up inquiringly. Grady said, “Let’s have a look.”

Where the mysterious animals had gamboled, the grass was bent and tramped. No bare earth meant no paw prints.

Merlin led his master along the trail until the meadow ended where the woods resumed.

A cloud shadow passed over them and seemed to be drawn into the forest as a draft draws smoke.

Gazing through the serried trees into the gloom, Grady felt watched. If the white-furred pair could climb, they might be in a high green bower, cloaked in pine boughs and not easily spotted.

Although he was a hunter by breed and blood, with a Sher?lockian sense of smell that could follow the thinnest thread of unraveled scent, Merlin showed no interest in further pursuit.

They followed the tree line west, then northwest, along the curve of meadow, circling toward home as the quickening air whispered through the grass. They returned to the north woods.

Around them, the soft chorus of nature arose once more: birds in song, the drone of insects, the arthritic creak of heavy evergreen boughs troubled by their own weight.

Although the unnatural hush had relented, Grady remained disturbed by a sense of the uncanny. Every time he glanced back, no stalker was apparent, yet he felt that he and Merlin were not alone.

On a long rise, they came to a stream that slithered down well-worn shelves of rock. Where the trees parted, the sun revealed silver scales on the water, which was elsewhere dark and smooth.

With other sounds masked by the hiss and gurgle of the stream, Grady wanted more than ever to look back. He resisted the paranoid urge until his companion halted, turned, and stared downhill.

He did not have to crouch in order to rest one hand on the wolfhound’s back. Merlin’s body was tight with tension.

The big dog scanned the woods. His high-set ears tipped forward slightly. His nostrils flared and quivered.

Merlin held that posture for so long, Grady began to think the dog was not so much searching for anything as he was warning away a pursuer. Yet he did not growl.

When at last the wolfhound set off toward home once more, he moved faster than before, and Grady Adams matched the dog’s pace.

From the Hardcover edition.


Meet the Author

Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Brief Biography

Newport Beach, California
Date of Birth:
July 9, 1945
Place of Birth:
Everett, Pennsylvania
B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966

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Breathless 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 465 reviews.
KristallinHeart More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Dean Koontz's books and this is definitely at the top of my list. I couldn't put it down. His other book that had this effect was "From the Corner of His Eye." I finished both of these books feeling so fulfilled by what I had read.
_Bryan_ More than 1 year ago
There are too many story lines to keep the reader interested and they never come together with much of an impact. When the book is finally over, you may end up thinking, "hmm, that's kind of an interesting concept", but you're more likely to regret wasting your time. I would have stopped in the middle of it, but since I've read all of Koontz's books, I figured I might as well finish it. It falls far short of his talent. Better than "Your heart belongs to me" (which was a painful read), but not by much. I'm such a fan of his that I kind of feel bad for him. If you want the real Koontz, read "Life Expectancy", "One Door Away From Heaven", "Cold Fire", "The Good Guy", "Dark Rivers of the Heart", "Watchers", "Intensity", or the "Frankenstein series". Those were Koontz at his best.
storker More than 1 year ago
I just finished Breathless which I had been looking forward to based on the plot. After reading his last book, Relentless which I felt was a disappointment I was hoping that in this book he would take the time to develop the characters and the storyline. Mr. Koontz had a wonderful premise for a story and as he has been doing lately he dropped the ball big time. I felt that he ended the book way before he could have given his readers an opportunity to get to really know the new species and the main characters. I felt like he just wanted to finish the book and move on to another book. It is unfortunate because this book could have been one of the best stories he has ever written rather than what felt like a short story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I used to love Koontz. Many reviewers have already mentioned the loose parallel stories/characters in Breathless, who are shallowly developed (sadly,they could all be compelling characters), so much so, I feel like I am reading a collection of short stories that go pretty much nowhere. But what really troubles me - having also recently been disappointed with the final edition of the Frankenstein trilogy (liked the first two) is that I feel Koontz is trading character and plot developement for "in your face" moral preaching and constant (and I mean constant) moral/philosophical judgement. It's getting old. Animals are wonderful and good. People? Not so much - with some exceptions. Some are ok: those who have had terrible wounds in life, if they don't dwell on their victimhood, march on in life like good soldiers and especially if they don't seek therapy or self reflect on their lives. They must be relatively poor or uninterested in money, somewhat isolationist, hate politcs/politicians/power and focus intently on their ever so fulfilling jobs (like fry cook,carpenter or vet). His characters have become stereotyped and lacking in dimension and depth (oh-that's right- he abhors depth) - after all - one need only to work with thier hands, not think very much (especially about oneself),have a wonderful dog,love nature and, oh! I almost forgot - good people will have many moments of intuition saving them or at least givng them great insights into the world. Everyone else??? Enuf said. He outlines good charaters and plot - then leaves them to start his preachiness - Koontz- go back to develping your characters and plot and let them reveal your moral/philosophies in more subtle ways. Koontz - trust your readers to get it. I don't need you to actually tell me - "power; bad!" I'm so sorry to say this - but at this point - I feel like Koontz books have become very junior league personal observations on the corruption of life (Rousseau's Noble Savage. . .) - rather than good reads. I may just have to give up on him. Sigh!
psl_mom More than 1 year ago
I have read over 50 Koontz books, and have enjoyed them all, as I did enjoy Breathless, however, for Dean Koontz it fell short of my expectations. It ties about five or six stories together, but it alsmost seems like too many short seperate stories to really get intrested in this book as I have in other Dean Koontz books. The ending seemed like it was just "loose" it didnt close the story off well at all. Its worth the read if your a die-hard Koontz fan the way that I am, but if your just looking for a random book to read this summer, might want to skip over this one.
Frank_Redman More than 1 year ago
"In the stillness of a golden September afternoon, deep in the wilderness of the Rockies, a solitary craftsman, Grady Adams, and his magnificent Irish wolfhound Merlin step from shadow into light.and into an encounter with enchantment. That night, through the trees, under the moon, a pair of singular animals will watch Grady's isolated home, waiting to make their approach." Dean Koontz doesn't just entertain with written words, he writes novels of great importance, entreating us to be aware of the madness in our world and rise above it. BREATHLESS is a wonderful story about the power of good and light in a world full of darkness. Characters are presented with the opportunity to accept something so amazingly pure, it will change their lives forever. Some characters grasp that opportunity, which leads to healing and restoration. Some resist, despite the miraculous existence of the event in the first place, and their lives remain in the dark. It's interesting to consider the justification given by the characters that refuse to accept the peace-breathing event in the story. No one is better than Koontz at infusing stories with animals, and in many cases these animals play significant roles. BREATHLESS is one of these stories. Animal lovers will take great joy in recognizing the importance the animals have in this story. This is a novel that could have easily been twice the length and still retain reader interest and enjoyment. There are multiple plot threads that leave you wondering as you're reading how Koontz will be able to bring them all together. This leads me to my only complaint about the book-I didn't want it to end. The ending was certainly no disappointment, and it didn't feel too short; I just wanted the story to keep going. "In a novel that is at once wholly of our time and timeless, fearless and funny, Dean Koontz takes readers into the moment between one turn of the world and the next, across the border between knowing and mystery." Life is indeed a mystery. And a mystery we are unlikely to ever solve. But there are clues that will help us have a more peaceful life which we'll see if we simply take a moment and open our eyes. Koontz tells us about a few of these clues: hope, perseverance, selflessness. while at the same time telling us a story that takes us out of the everyday and entertains.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a big fan of Dean Koontz,I never thought I'd say this about any of his books, but the writing, the plot, ect. make no sense. I wish i could send it back to the WRITER. Mabe he didn't write it. I just don't know how this got published.
LatteloverRL More than 1 year ago
I felt the story lacked depth, and excitement, which is unusual for Dean Koontz. He did include different characters and their stories woven throughout the main story, but they seemed incomplete. I had thought it would get better as I kept reading, but it didn't. I was surprised at where the book ended, it left me feeling empty. Wow, what a 'let-down'!
lakota12 More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Dean Koontz's books, and bought this one based on past book experiences. It was a good book, but a bit short. I think it is better as a short story. I wish it had been longer, and that he would have developed the story beyond the ending. The ending was not a bad one, but it should have continued for a few more chapters. An interesting read, but not among the best of Koontz's books.
londieFL More than 1 year ago
This book was total garbage. It had way too many charaters and too many story lines to keep up. I'm a avid reader, who could breeze thru most books. This one was so badly written that it took me 2 weeks as I dreaded picking it up. I love Dean Koontz, but after this horrible read it will be a long day in you know what before I pick up another one of his books. It was total babble, maybe he had way too much of something and couldn't focus. Anyone that says this is a good book should have their head exaimed. As for me I'm going to take 2 advils and thank the stars that I've finally finished this horrible book. Dont' bother with the story line as some of you usually write, it's not worth the effort. Those that do this, it's sad you cannot be original, sadly it's the best you can do, by copywriting what's already there in black and white.
Modo9 More than 1 year ago
I usually love Dean Koontz' books. I usually finish the book wishing it wasn't done yet. But not this one. There were too many people that had no connection until the end. The book did keep me intrigued waiting to find out what was going to happen. The end was disappointing, after reading the whole book.....and finding everybody's connection....nothing. I felt like I ready a whole book of "background" information leading up to nothing.
VictoriaQueen More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book, Mr Koontz' earlier works (much earlier) have been great reads. I swear now he is just pumping out crap to make money. His over the top descriptions of seemingly mundane things like a forrest or a beach become tedious at best and in the end (chapter) there is no payoff in terms of the story. He began several plot lines that just died on the vine, i.e what were the reasons for Tom Bigger's behavior ?? Even worst are the inexplicable bouts of excessive emotions attributed to characters without any decent explaination for the reader. For example: when two scientist meet Puzzle and Riddle one starts crying and the other starts babbling. We are just expected to go along with this because Mr Kootnz has become too intellectualy lazy to at least give us a reason why these emotions were invoked. Actually that pretty much sums up the plot(s) of this entire book, unexplained happenings with what has to be the worst ending of a novel ever!! I thought it could not get any worse after Your Heart Belongs to Me but I was wrong, so very wrong.
DramaDreamz More than 1 year ago
I rarely have a chance to read a book straight through but this one I had to. Seemingly unconnected characters are thrown at you in stark and intriguing ways. The hope of mankind is eternal and this book is a very very interesting take on that.
lookinglass More than 1 year ago
Duh - what??? Waste of time.
SuseNJ More than 1 year ago
I dislike books where a fantasy creature is created and the author sets about admiring it ad nauseum thru various characters' eyes. This book was totally boring except for the last 1/4 or so where a story plot occurred, except for some very interesting little subplots, which however were all brought to their ends abruptly. The one thing I really liked was the two pages of a probability mathematician's view that Darwinian evolution is impossible due to the billions of mutations necessary for even a simple species to change into another species (more time needed than the age of the universe) and the inadequacy of the fossil record to substantiate evolution.
TheEerieCoterie More than 1 year ago
With less than a week away before its official release I wanted to give The Eerie Coterie readers a quick review of the new Dean Koontz novel - Breathless. Over his long career Koontz has been genre-bending every novel; mixes of sci-fi, romance, adventure and suspense - with touches of humor. In this latest thriller he does it again, but on a wider scale. It reads like one of his thrill rides (Velocity, Intensity, The Good Guy) and yet is full of the literary surprises that came with is more robust tales (From the Corner of His Eye, One Door Away From Heaven). Of course it features a canine character which is as much a trademark for Koontz as transvestites and bears are for John Irving. Without giving more away than the jacket description, I believe his fans will devour this tale like all his others, and new readers to his work will fall in live with his writing style and his sense of humanity and humor. I can't wait to see its release!! The Eerie Coterie is a website devoted to Dean Koontz and The Nobody of The Coterie hopes you will visit us and take a look around. The site will celebrate its 1 year anniversary and welcomes new readers. The website is http://eerie-coterie.blogspot.com/ The Nobody
Anonymous 3 months ago
Could not out down Kept me captivated.
Anonymous 5 months ago
A wonderful feel Good novel. Hard to put down. Left a good feeling in my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept my attention throughout the entire story from cover to cover!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't want it to end! Just what I needed, thank you again Mr. Koontz!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Byy t
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was well written as all Dean Koontz story's are, it was unpredictable and inspiring. Can't wait for a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lauralovesreviewingLT More than 1 year ago
I've read practically every book by this author and this one is by far my favorite. I have it in every format and also read each format. The title describes my experience perfectly. I left this book feeling a sense of wonder and hope. I was also wowed by how the author put those emotions, those feeling into words. Pure magic. That's what this story is!