A bad book review propels this farcical thriller from bestseller Koontz (Your Heart Belongs to Me). Bestselling author Cullen "Cubby" Greenwich is mortified when Shearman Waxx, "the nation's premier literary critic," savages his work. Cubby manages to find the "syphilitic swine" at Roxie's Bistro in Newport Beach, Calif., where the author's six-year-old prodigy son nearly pees by accident on Waxx in the restaurant's men's room. In retaliation, Waxx threatens Cubby with doom and gets things started nicely by blowing up his house. With almost superhuman ease, the book critic keeps track of Cubby and his family as they flee for their lives. While some may take this as satire, the over-the-top villain's underdeveloped motivation and a jokey narrative tone that jars when juxtaposed with terrifying scenes of violence will leave others scratching their heads. By the time Koontz introduces a science fiction element, a lot of readers may have already checked out. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Relentlessby Dean Koontz, Dan John Miller
Bestselling novelist Cullen “Cubby” Greenwich is a lucky man and he knows it. He makes a handsome living doing what he enjoys. His wife, Penny, a children’s book author and illustrator, is the love of his life. Together they have a brilliant six-year-old, Milo, affectionately dubbed “Spooky,” and a non-collie named Lassie, who’s
Bestselling novelist Cullen “Cubby” Greenwich is a lucky man and he knows it. He makes a handsome living doing what he enjoys. His wife, Penny, a children’s book author and illustrator, is the love of his life. Together they have a brilliant six-year-old, Milo, affectionately dubbed “Spooky,” and a non-collie named Lassie, who’s all but part of the family.
So Cubby knows he shouldn’t let one bad review of his otherwise triumphant new book get to himeven if it does appear in the nation’s premier newspaper and is penned by the much-feared, seldom-seen critic Shearman Waxx. Cubby knows that the best thing to do is ignore the gratuitously vicious, insulting, and inaccurate comments. Penny knows it; even little Milo knows it. If Lassie could talk, she’d tell Cubby to ignore them, too.
Ignore Shearman Waxx and his poison pen is just what Cubby intends to do. Until he happens to learn where the great man is taking his lunch. Cubby just wants to get a look at the mysterious recluse whose mere opinion can make or break a careeror a life.
But Shearman Waxx isn’t what Cubby expects, and neither is the escalating terror that follows what seemed to be an innocent encounter. For Waxx gives criticism; he doesn’t take it. He has ways of dealing with those who cross him that Cubby is only beginning to fathom. Soon Cubby finds himself in a desperate struggle with a relentless sociopath, facing an inexorable assault on far more than his life.
Fearless, funny, utterly compelling, Relentless is Dean Koontz at his riveting best, an unforgettable tale of the fragile bonds that hold together all that we most cherishand of those who would tear those bonds asunder.
"Cubby" Greenwich is a best-selling novelist with a new book out and reviews hitting the stands. When he's eviscerated by renowned critic Shearman Waxx in a review full of errors, he can't help but wonder at the man behind the critique, the inaccuracies, and the poor syntax. Following one relatively harmless run-in at a local restaurant, Cubby and his family (wife and fellow author Penny, six-year-old son and off-the-charts genius son "Spooky" Milo, and similarly spooky dog Lassie) are exposed to terrors beyond metaphorical slaying. Shearman Waxx is a man bent on destroying not merely Cubby's book sales but the man and his family. He has uncanny knowledge, and Cubby soon discovers that he's not the only author to fall victim to Waxx's psychopathic attentions. Relentless echoes the very best of the Odd Thomas series in voice; this is an exquisite crafting of the thrilling, the unexplainable, and the personal, with the mirth and whimsy that Koontz throws in seemingly effortlessly just when it's most needed and least expected. Koontz fans will snap up. Buy multiple copies. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/09.]
"Koontz is working at his pinnacle, providing terrific entertainment that deals seriously with some of the deepest themes of human existence: the nature of evil, the grip of fate and the power of love."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Koontz has always had near-Dickensian powers of description, and an ability to yank us from one page to the next that few novelists can match." —Los Angeles Times
“An exquisite crafting of the thrilling, the unexplainable, and the personal, with the mirth and whimsy that Koontz throws in seemingly effortlessly just when it's most needed and least expected.”—Library Journal, starred review
“[A] smoothly spun nail-biter.... Koontz still grabs readers as few other thriller scribes can.”—Booklist
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Read an Excerpt
By Dean Koontz
BantamCopyright © 2009 Dean Koontz
All right reserved.
This is a thing I’ve learned: Even with a gun to my head, I am capable of being convulsed with laughter. I am not sure what this extreme capacity for mirth says about me. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Beginning one night when I was six years old and for twenty-seven years thereafter, good luck was my constant companion. The guardian angel watching over me had done a superb job.
As a reward for his excellent stewardship of my life, perhaps my angel—let’s call him Ralph—was granted a sabbatical. Perhaps he was reassigned. Something sure happened to him for a while during my thirty-fourth year, when darkness found us.
In the days when Ralph was diligently on the job, I met and courted Penny Boom. I was twenty-four and she was twenty-three.
Women as beautiful as Penny previously looked through me. Oh, occasionally they looked at me, but as though I reminded them of something they had seen once in a book of exotic fungi, something they had never expected—or wished—to see in real life.
She was also too smart and too witty and too graceful to waste her time with a guy like me, so I can only assume that a supernatural power coerced her into marrying me. In my mind’s eye, I see Ralph kneeling beside Penny’s bedwhile she slept, whispering, “He’s the one for you, he’s the one for you, no matter how absurd that concept may seem at this moment, he really is the one for you.”
We were married more than three years when she gave birth to Milo, who is fortunate to have his mother’s blue eyes and black hair.
Our preferred name for our son was Alexander. Penny’s mother, Clotilda—who is named Nancy on her birth certificate—threatened that if we did not call him Milo, she would blow her brains out.
Penny’s father, Grimbald—whose parents named him Larry—insisted that he would not clean up after such a suicide, and neither Penny nor I had the stomach for the job. So Alexander became Milo.
I am told that the family’s surname really is Boom and that they come from a long line of Dutch merchants. When I ask what commodity his ancestors sold, Grimbald becomes solemn and evasive, and Clotilda pretends that she is deaf.
My name is Cullen Greenwich—pronounced gren-itch, like the town in Connecticut. Since I was a little boy, most people have called me Cubby.
When I first dated Penny, her mom tried calling me Hildebrand, but I would have none of it.
Hildebrand is from the Old German, and means “battle torch” or “battle sword.” Clotilda is fond of power names, except in the case of our son, when she was prepared to self-destruct if we didn’t give him a name that meant “beloved and gentle.”
Our friend and internist, Dr. Jubal Frost, who delivered Milo, swears that the boy never cried at birth, that he was born smiling. In fact, Jubal says our infant softly hummed a tune, on and off, in the delivery room.
Although I was present at the birth, I have no memory of Milo’s musical performance because I fainted. Penny does not remember it either, because, although conscious, she was distracted by the postpartum hemorrhaging that had caused me to pass out.
I do not doubt Jubal Frost’s story. Milo has always been full of surprises. For good reason, his nickname is Spooky.
On his third birthday, Milo declared, “We’re gonna rescue a doggy.”
Penny and I assumed he was acting out something he had seen on TV, but he was a preschooler on a mission. He climbed onto a kitchen chair, plucked the car keys from the Peg–Board, and hurried out to the garage as if to set off in search of an endangered canine.
We took the keys away from him, but for more than an hour, he followed us around chanting, “We’re gonna rescue a doggy,” until to save our sanity, we decided to drive him to a pet shop and redirect his canine enthusiasm toward a gerbil or a turtle, or both.
En route, he said, “We’re almost to the doggy.” Half a block later, he pointed to a sign—animal shelter. We assumed wrongly that it was the silhouette of a German shepherd that caught his attention, not the words on the sign. “In there, Daddy.”
Scores of forlorn dogs occupied cages, but Milo walked directly to the middle of the center row in the kennel and said, “This one.”
She was a fifty-pound two-year-old Australian shepherd mix with a shaggy black-and-white coat, one eye blue and the other gray. She had no collie in her, but Milo named her Lassie.
Penny and I loved her the moment we saw her. Somewhere a gerbil and a turtle would remain in need of a home.
In the next three years, we never heard a single bark from the dog. We wondered whether our Lassie, following the example of the original, would at last bark if Milo fell down an abandoned well or became trapped in a burning barn, or whether she would instead try to alert us to our boy’s circumstances by employing urgent pantomime.
Until Milo was six and Lassie was five, our lives were not only free of calamity but also without much inconvenience. Our fortunes changed with the publication of my sixth novel, One O’Clock Jump.
My first five had been bestsellers. Way to go, Angel Ralph.
Penny Boom, of course, is the Penny Boom, the acclaimed writer and illustrator of children’s books. They are brilliant, funny books.
More than for her dazzling beauty, more than for her quick mind, more than for her great good heart, I fell in love with her for her sense of humor. If she ever lost her sense of humor, I would have to dump her. Then I’d kill myself because I couldn’t live without her.
The name on her birth certificate is Brunhild, which means someone who is armored for the fight. By the time she was five, she insisted on being called Penny.
At the start of World War Waxx, as we came to call it, Penny and Milo and Lassie and I lived in a fine stone-and-stucco house, under the benediction of graceful phoenix palms, in Southern California. We didn’t have an ocean view, but didn’t need one, for we were focused on one another and on our books.
Because we’d seen our share of Batman movies, we knew that Evil with a capital E stalked the world, but we never expected that it would suddenly, intently turn its attention to our happy household or that this evil would be drawn to us by a book I had written.
Having done a twenty-city tour for each of my previous novels, I persuaded my publisher to spare me that ordeal for One O’Clock Jump.
Consequently, on publication day, a Tuesday in early November, I got up at three o’clock in the morning to brew a pot of coffee and to repair to my first-floor study. Unshaven, in pajamas, I undertook a series of thirty radio interviews, conducted by telephone, between 4:00 and 9:30 a.m., which began with morning shows on the East Coast.
Radio hosts, both talk-jocks and traditional tune-spinners, do better interviews than TV types. Rare is the TV interviewer who has read your book, but eight of ten radio hosts will have read it.
Radio folks are brighter and funnier, too—and often quite humble. I don’t know why this last should be true, except perhaps the greater fame of facial recognition, which comes with regular television exposure, encourages pridefulness that ripens into arrogance.
After five hours on radio, I felt as though I might vomit if I heard myself say again the words One O’Clock Jump. I could see the day coming when, if I was required to do much publicity for a new book, I would write it but not allow its publication until I died.
If you have never been in the public eye, flogging your work like a carnival barker pitching a freak show to the crowd, this publish-only-after-death pledge may seem extreme. But protracted self-promotion drains something essential from the soul, and after one of these sessions, you need weeks to recover and to decide that one day it might be all right to like yourself again.
The danger in writing but not publishing was that my agent, Hudson “Hud” Jacklight, receiving no commissions, would wait only until three unpublished works had been completed before having me killed to free up the manuscripts for marketing.
And if I knew Hud as well as I thought I did, he would not arrange for a clean shot to the back of the head. He would want me to be tortured and dismembered in such a flamboyant fashion that he could make a rich deal for one of his true-crime clients to write a book about my murder.
If no publisher would pay a suitably immense advance for a book about an unsolved killing, Hud would have someone framed for it. Most likely Penny, Milo, and Lassie.
Anyway, after the thirtieth interview, I rose from my office chair and, reeling in self-disgust, made my way to the kitchen. My intention was to eat such an unhealthy breakfast that my guilt over the cholesterol content would distract me from the embarrassment of all the self-promotion.
Dependable Penny had delayed her breakfast so she could eat with me and hear all of the incredibly witty things I wished I had said in those thirty interviews. In contrast to my tousled hair, unshaven face, and badly rumpled pajamas, she wore a crisp white blouse and lemon-yellow slacks, and as usual her skin glowed as though it were translucent and she were lit from inside.
As I entered the room, she was serving blueberry pancakes, and I said, “You look scrumptious. I could pour maple syrup on you and eat you alive.”
“Cannibalism,” Milo warned me, “is a crime.”
“It’s not a worldwide crime,” I told him. “Some places it’s a culinary preference.”
“It’s a crime,” he insisted.
Between his fifth and sixth birthdays, Milo had decided on a career in law enforcement. He said that too many people were lawless and that the world was run by thugs. He was going to grow up and do something about it.
Lots of kids want to be policemen. Milo intended to become the director of the FBI and the secretary of defense, so that he would be empowered to dispense justice to evildoers both at home and abroad.
Here on the brink of World War Waxx, Milo perched on a dinette chair, elevated by a thick foam pillow because he was diminutive for his age. Blue block letters on his white T-shirt spelled courage.
Later, the word on his chest would seem like an omen.
Having finished his breakfast long ago, my bright-eyed son was nursing a glass of chocolate milk and reading a comic book. He could read at college level, though his interests were not those of either a six-year-old or a frat boy.
Excerpted from Relentless by Dean Koontz Copyright © 2009 by Dean Koontz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.
- 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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An excellent book, typical of Dean Koontz, for about two-thirds of the book. After that, I thought the book made a turn for the worse. I won't divulge what happened, but it lost my interest and I didn't understand the ending. Maybe next time.
As a Dean Koontz fan I was excited to read his latest book. I finished reading it in one afternoon. Although the story was enjoyable, it unfortunatly missed it's mark. I liked the characters and the basic premise for the plot. Where this book let me down was that it never developed far enough. I can visualize this same book written by Stephen King and going on over several more hundred pages. I actually felt like Mr. Koontz couldn't wait to finish writing the book even though he knew that there was more to his story. Ultimately, the reader must do this on their own which for me was quite disappointing!
This book was classic Dean Koontz entertainment. I love the way Koontz pulls you in to the story and makes you care about the characters very quickly. I read this in two days, because I simply could not put it down. Koontz books seem formulaic, but it's a structure that works! If it ain't broken, as they say. Even after I finished this I was hungry for more about the characters. They seem so real and I love how he describes relationships amongst them-I always find myself wishing I was part of a social circle like those in his stories! Finally, the story is so gripping and mysterious. I love how Koontz is able to take a believable, real situation and twist it with a supernatural effect. How is Waxx able to do so much? What is the source of his seemingly limitless resources? Who will be shot, forever changing the lives of the family members, as foreshadowed multiple times? A GREAT story - buy this and read it you will love it.
Looking for something to read while traveling I grabbed Relentless based entirely on the reputation of Dean Koontz. I had not had an opportunity to read his work before and after reading this book, I probably won't pick up another. The characters were simply not believable. Plot elements were left unexplained or required an uncomfortable leap of faith in order to swallow. The ending left me baffled which was par for the course considering the laundry list of unexplainable things happening throughout the book. It was a quick read with well paced chapters but disappointing. I wish I had picked up an older Koontz novel (as some suggest) because Relentless ended up being a poor choice.
For those familiar with Koontz and his style this book fits nicely into his cannon of fiction. For someone not aware of what Koontz has to offer is in for a real treat. Relentless is one of Koontz's pageturners, where you will have papercuts after finishing one of these because they are so fast paced. The initial premise of the book may cause the reader to go...REALLY, sounds lame. As any fan will tell you it will not go where you beleive it will. As is typical there is a dog and it is not just an ordinary dog, but the characters are so well rounded and given moments of humor and even slapstick, too. Cullen Greenwich is a writer and he gets a bad review on his latest book. The reviewer is an illiterate geek and Cullen gets an opportunity to get a good look at him - then all hell breaks loose. After chapter 3 you are not going to be able to put this book down. It doesn't have the large canvas and scope of some of his other novels, but what it lacks in depth it recreates in tense dramatic scenes that are truly relentless. There are two bits of trivia/gossip about this book. One, the original title was The Other Side of the Woods, which is the name of Cullen Greenwich's wife's new children's book and is pertinant to the novel itself. The other interesting fact is Cullen's work that gets ravaged by the deranged literary critic is called One O'Clock Jump - which was the original title of Koontz's own novel, The Bad Place!!
...about hugely successful writer Cullen Greenwich and his "perfect" family, who are targeted by an almost super-human madman named Shearman Waxx, the literary critic that trashed Greenwich's latest novel. Extreme violence, humor and a supernatural element mix surprisingly well in "Relentless" and Koontz keeps the pedal to the metal throughout - I raced through this thing in less than a day. I plan on reading it again though, more slowly, as there seems to be something else going on here beyond Koontz' usual thrills and chills. Could Waxx be Greenwich's id-like alter ego, who puts in print the writer's own true feelings about his bestselling work, and then systematically destroys his staid, picture-perfect life? Is "Relentless" an exaggerated portrayal of the trials and tribulations a bestselling author like Koontz goes through in the modern publishing world? (If you've read the forwards to the new reprint editions of Koontz' older novels you'll know what I'm talking about.) I'm also curious about the names Koontz picked for his characters, which seem carefully thought out and constructed. All in all "Relentless" is one of Koontz' more interesting recent books, well worth reading. Also recommended: "A STRANGER LIES THERE". This website's editorial review said this mystery is "an appealing blend of SoCal noir and psychological suspense ala Dean Koontz. Two thumb way up."
Relentless is a classic Dean Koontz novel with some small variations. It's written in first person, which is unusual for Koontz (I can only think of one or two other novels he's written in first person voice). It has a great cast of characters -- Cubby (the narrator), his wife Penny, his son Milo, and their dog Lassie -- and a villain who is unique and interesting through most of the book. Unfortunately, when the mystery is revealed, it's a lot like ones Mr. Koontz has done a few times before, and I was disappointed in that. I was able to predict most of what happened at the end before it happened, which is unusual for a Koontz novel. Perhaps I've just read too many of his books, and am too used to his style. But this book's "reveal" will not be a big surprise to people who have read some of Koontz's other work. The novel is well worth a read, and I enjoyed it... but the ending left something to be desired, by my lights.
I was incredibly disappointed in this book. I have read several books by Koontz. When he writes well, I love his books. This is not his best by any means. I feel like Koontz has distinct patterns in his novels, and they disturb me greatly. This one has the worst of them: main character is a complete, dysfunctional dufus other than his ability to write five star novels; the wife is indescribably beautiful, kind, funny, smart, and perfect; ANOTHER completely unexplained and unrealistic genius child; homeschooling; perfect perfect perfect family; overwhelming preaching. I agree with the other reviewers that this story was cookie-cutter formulaic. Total waste of time. Don't swear off Koontz's other books; you just have to dig a little to find the hidden gems.
Dean Koontz's Relentless is one of those books that seem to feel like you don't know where the book's getting at. Cubby Greenwich is an author who has a loving wife and child, but when one of his books gets poorly reviewed by one of america's top critics Cubby is on the run for his life from the "Relentless" critic that is determined to end his career. The book has an okay plot when said but as the book progresses, and as you think about it it seems a little far fetched. The book started off great and by halfway through it seemed that Mr. Koontz was trying to find something to add that shouldn't of been there. And also it felt like he was cramming to many details to end the book when they should of been spread out. Overall a good.
Let me begin by saying that I have read every Koontz book and that I believe he has written some of the best contemporary horror/thriller fiction around. That being said, I found this book to be formulaic and boring. I finished it only because I had started it and I had hoped that it would get better. There is no real character development of Waxx, his motives are not clear, and to be honest, simply not believable. I didn't particularly like the "heroes" either. It seems like Koontz lately is simply trying to cash in on his former glory. Give me another Strangers or Watchers - original, fun, scary, moving. And could he please stop preaching - the bashing of intellectuals, the belittling of various fields and disciplines with which he has no real understanding based on what he writes. Disappointed and disillusioned with his work lately would be an understatement. What a waste of $10 - I'd like my money and my time back.
As per the norm, with Koontz, I had a hard time pulling myself away from this story. The characters were so easy to become attached to and the story line had me trying to turn pages faster than I could read in order to see what was coming next. Family, a little Sci-Fi, murder, mystery and twists.. a little of everything you could want and everything you get in a Koontz book!
Totally nonsensical. Interesting premise about critics offing authors and well-written, but the ending is so ludicrously contrived that it validates the case for justifiable homicide.
Yet again I find myself trying to decide if I have a new favorite from Dean Koontz! He is the master of all. This book had me from cover to cover in every aspect! I found myself constantly lauging while sitting on the edge of my seat. I feel there were very few instances, if any, where there were frequent ramblings on one particular subject that will cause you to skim a page or two in some of Koontz's novels. There just isnt much to say bad about this one. He finishes the book pretty well and it feels like he took his time to close this one out rather than rush the ending and leaving so many questions unanswered. This is a great book for anyone! Especially a Dean Koontz fan! You will love it.
If you want yet another amazing "summer" read, pick up RELENTLESS By Dean. It's fast and furious, mixing romance, comedy (he's amazingly funny--Dave Berry or George Waters funny)Suspence, Thrills and Chills. He's a master at figuring out the evil mind, and brilliant at figuring out the rest of us--heros we aren't but he gives us regular people wings to fly and a sense that we are doing the right thing by just caring about humanity at it's most depraved and it's very best. Dean has come a long way from "Whispers" folks--he believes in the regular guy, he has our dreams figured out (Dogs are really angels)and he inspires us to be more than we are. "A plus" reading!
This was tough to put down...aside from the "Odd" series Koontz has written a few disappointing novels, as of late (for me). I appreciate a well developed character and I like that he ends on the up side, in general. I genuinely liked his characters and I really didn't figure out the end...until he was ready to reveal. I liked it. Watchers and Servants of Twilight are still my favorites, though.
Anyone who has read any of Koontz's work can begin to recognize certain patterns. He still manages to make these plots and characters work. If you have enjoyed his past books you will not be disappointed here. Escapist and entertaining.
In my opinion, this story was a little different from most of Dean's books. The co-main character, usually a well-disciplined, very capable individual, is less so in this story. He seemed to be hesitant, self-doubting and less capable of handling tough situations. The wife seemed more in charge. This is a good divergence from most of his books. It was a thoroughly enjoyable reading. Dean presented very believeable characters - ones you can identify with and feel for. While the ending was somewhat predictable and not as spellbinding as most of his books, I highly recommend it for established Koontz readers as well as new.
As a loyal Koontz fan I was somewhat disappointed by "Your Heart Belongs to Me" and was happy to see he was back on track with his latest "Relentless". Great characters & the plot & suspense grab immediately.
Not his usual quality
The book is a great read. I had a blast running with this adventure but the book gets wild towards the end. Still entertaining and I couldn't put it down.
LOVED it! I've loved most of them from this author, but he outdid himself with this one.