The Face

( 120 )


He’s Hollywood’s most dazzling star, inspiring the worship of millions and the hatred of one twisted soul. His perfectly ordered existence is under siege as a series of terrifying “messages” penetrates the security of his legendary estate. All that stands between him and an insidious killer is a weary ex-cop who has already seen his own death.

Enter a world of marvelous invention, enchantment, and implacable intent, populated by murderous actors and the walking dead, hit men and...

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He’s Hollywood’s most dazzling star, inspiring the worship of millions and the hatred of one twisted soul. His perfectly ordered existence is under siege as a series of terrifying “messages” penetrates the security of his legendary estate. All that stands between him and an insidious killer is a weary ex-cop who has already seen his own death.

Enter a world of marvelous invention, enchantment, and implacable intent, populated by murderous actors and the walking dead, hit men and heroes, long-buried dreams and never-dying hope. Dean Koontz takes readers on an unforgettable journey to the heart of darkness and to the pinnacle of grace, with a brilliantly observed chronicle of good and evil in our time, of illusion and everlasting truth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Dean Koontz is not just a master of our darkest dreams, but also a literary juggler.” —The Times (London)

“Dean Koontz almost occupies a genre of his own. He is a master at building suspense and holding the reader spellbound.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“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

"Still the DEAN of suspense...a rewarding'll enjoy the ride."—People Magazine

"Both terrifying and amusing, The Face is classic Dean Koontz—a blend of murder, mystery and wit...Koontz's dialogue is sharp, his characters multidimensional, and the plot is tight."—New York Daily News

"A modern Swift...a master satirist."—Entertainment Weekly

USA Today
Often pigeonholed as "a horror writer," Koontz is a superb plotter and wordsmith. He chronicles the hopes and fears of our time in broad strokes and fine detail, using popular fiction to explore the human condition. The Face demonstrates once again that the real horror of life is found not in monsters, but within the human psyche. — David Montgomery
Publishers Weekly
The final pages of Koontz's newest are uplifting enough to make Cain repent and Pilate weep. And there's much else in this novel to savor-and savor it readers must, because some of the book is slow going (it's also much too long). There's scarcely an author alive who, judging by his books, loves the English language more than Koontz; there's certainly no bestselling author of popular fiction who makes more use of figures of speech and whose sentences offer more musicality. That can be Koontz's weakness as well as strength, however. Koontz is also one of the great suspense authors, and when he's fashioned a particularly robust plot to carry his creative prose, as in last year's By the Light of the Moon, he's an Olympian. But when he stretches a thin story line beyond resilience, the language can overcome the narrative like kudzu vines. That happens here, despite the tale's grandeur and strong lines. The eponymous Face is the world's biggest movie star; he doesn't appear in the novel, but his smart, geeky 10-year-old son, Fric, takes center stage, as does Ethan Truman, cop-turned-security chief of the Face's elaborate estate and Fric's main human protector when one Corky Laputa, who's dedicated his life to anarchy, decides to sow further disorder by kidnapping this progeny of the world's idol. Fric's secondary protector was also human, a mobster, until he recently died and became Fric's (somewhat inept) guardian angel. Most of the narrative concerns Corky's abominations and Ethan and Fric's dawning awareness, via numerous uncanny events, of the unfolding horror. Koontz's characters are memorable and his unique mix of suspense and humor absorbing; but his overwriting-e.g., a chapter of about 2,000 words to describe Corky's coverup of a murder, when a sentence or two would have sufficed-make this worthy novel less than a dream. Still, great kudos to Koontz for creating, within the strictures of popular fiction, another notable novel of ideas and of moral imperatives. (On sale May 27) Forecast: Koontz regularly publishes one novel a year, usually around the year-end holidays. Will the market buy one just six months after his last? Sure it will: look for this to hit #1. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Koontz flexes his muscles and sets forth like a demigod to create his most strongly anchored novel since 1995's Intensity, a work sheathed with darkness and wreathed with wiry metaphor. Ethan Truman, 37, a widower and retired homicide detective, has been hired as head of security for huge Palazzo Rospo, a mansion owned by Hollywood's greatest star, Channing Manheim, a seductively empty actor nicknamed The Face. He's often not home, and the roost is ruled by his brilliant ten-year-old son Fric (Aelfric), who gets $35 grand a year to redecorate his bedroom but gets ghostly phone calls as well. Koontz swoons through all the rooms of the manse, the first-class library of 35,000 volumes, the dustless wine cellar with 14,000 bottles that must be given a quarter turn every four months, the incredible phone system, whose every switch is blueprinted for the reader. Well, an anarchist teacher of modern fiction, Corky Laputa, has been sending The Face symbolic packages that suggest bad feelings: say, a fresh apple halved and stitched together with a blue doll's eye hidden inside. Even Koontz himself may not know what this means while unrolling hundreds of pages of top-drawer suspense and masterly set design. Duncan "Dunnie" Whistler, an old buddy of Ethan's and suitor of Ethan's dead wife Hannah, drowns in a toilet but arises in the morgue, dresses, leaves, and buys Broadway roses for Hannah's grave. During this long day's journey, Ethan himself dies twice, once by gunfire, once crushed by a truck, and returns to life, weirdly hale. Then there's Mr. Typhon, the swank storm god, who hires dead Dunnie as a hit man-to protect Ethan? At last, all astral questions focus on The Face and what mightpossibly be behind it. High art? Mm, maybe, let's wait and see-and does it matter anyway?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553593419
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 439,414
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dean Koontz

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

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    1. Also Known As:
      David Axton, Brian Coffey, K.R. Dwyer, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Owen West, Aaron Wolfe
    2. Hometown:
      Newport Beach, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 9, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Everett, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

After the apple had been cut in half, the halves had been sewn together with coarse black thread.

Ten bold stitches were uniformly spaced. Each knot had been tied with a surgeon's precision.

The variety of apple, a red delicious, might have significance. Considering that these messages had been delivered in the form of objects and images, never in words, every detail might refine the sender's meaning, as adjectives and punctuation refined prose.

More likely, however, this apple had been selected because it wasn't ripe. Softer flesh would have crumbled even if the needle had been used with care and if each stitch had been gently cinched.

Awaiting further examination, the apple stood on the desk in Ethan Truman's study. The black box in which the apple had been packed also stood on the desk, bristling with shredded black tissue paper. The box had already yielded what clues it contained: none.

Here in the west wing of the mansion, Ethan's ground-floor apartment was comprised of this study, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Tall French windows provided a clear view of nothing real.

The previous occupant would have called the study a living room and would have furnished the space accordingly. Ethan did too little living to devote an entire room to it.

With a digital camera, he had photographed the black box before opening it. He had also taken shots of the red delicious from three angles.

He assumed that the apple had been sliced open in order to allow for the insertion of an object into the core. He was reluctant to snip the stitches and to take a look at what might lie within.

Years as a homicide detective had hardened him in some respects. In other ways, too much experience of extreme violence had made him vulnerable.

He was only thirty-seven, but his police career was over. His instincts remained sharp, however, and his darkest expectations were undiminished.

A sough of wind insisted at the French panes. A soft tapping of blown rain.

The languid storm gave him excuse enough to leave the apple waiting and to step to the nearest window.

Frames, jambs, rails, muntins—every feature of every window in the great house had been crafted in bronze. Exposure to the elements promoted a handsome mottled-green patina on exterior surfaces. Inside, diligent maintenance kept the bronze a dark ruby-brown.

The glass in each pane was beveled at every edge. Even in the humblest of service rooms—the scullery, the ground-floor laundry—beveling had been specified.

Although the residence had been built for a film mogul during the last years of the Great Depression, no evidence of a construction budget could be seen anywhere from the entrance foyer to the farthest corner of the last back hall.

When steel sagged, when clothes grew moth-eaten on haberdashery racks, when cars rusted on showroom floors for want of customers, the film industry nevertheless flourished. In bad times as in good, the only two absolute necessities were food and illusions.

From the tall study windows, the view appeared to be a painting of the kind employed in motion-picture matte shots: an exquisitely rendered dimensional scene that, through the deceiving eye of the camera, could serve convincingly as a landscape on an alien planet or as a place on this world perfected as reality never allowed.

Greener than Eden's fields, acres of lawn rolled away from the house, without one weed or blade of blight. The majestic crowns of immense California live oaks and the drooping boughs of melancholy deodar cedars, each a classic specimen, were silvered and diamonded by the December drizzle.

Through skeins of rain as fine as angel hair, Ethan could see, in the distance, the final curve of the driveway. The gray-green quartzite cobblestones, polished to a sterling standard by the rain, led to the ornamental bronze gate in the estate wall.

During the night, the unwanted visitor had approached the gate on foot. Perhaps suspecting that this barrier had been retrofitted with modern security equipment and that the weight of a climber would trigger an alarm in a monitoring station, he'd slung the package over the high scrolled crest of the gate, onto the driveway.

The box containing the apple had been cushioned by bubble wrap and then sealed in a white plastic bag to protect it further from foul weather. A red gift bow, stapled to the bag, ensured that the contents would not be mistaken for garbage.

Dave Ladman, one of two guards on the graveyard shift, retrieved the delivery at 3:56 a.m. Handling the bag with care, he had carried it to the security office in the groundskeeper's building at the back of the estate.

Dave and his shift partner, Tom Mack, x-rayed the package with a fluoroscope. They were looking for wires and other metal components of an explosive device or a spring-loaded killing machine.

These days, some bombs could be constructed with no metal parts. Consequently, following fluoroscopy, Dave and Tom employed a trace-scent analyzer capable of recognizing thirty-two explosive compounds from as few as three signature molecules per cubic centimeter of air.

When the package proved clean, the guards unwrapped it. Upon discovering the black gift box, they had left a message on Ethan's voice mail and had set the delivery aside for his attention.

At 8:35 this morning, one of the two guards on the early shift, Benny Nguyen, had brought the box to Ethan's apartment in the main house. Benny also arrived with a videocassette containing pertinent segments of tape from perimeter cameras that captured the delivery.

In addition, he offered a traditional Vietnamese clay cooking pot full of his mother's com tay cam, a chicken-and-rice dish of which Ethan was fond.

"Mom's been reading candle drippings again," Benny said. "She lit a candle in your name, read it, says you need to be fortified."

"For what? The most strenuous thing I do these days is get up in the morning."

"She didn't say for what. But not just for Christmas shopping. She had that temple-dragon look when she talked about it."

"The one that makes pit bulls bare their bellies?"

"That one. She said you need to eat well, say prayers without fail each morning and night, and avoid drinking strong spirits."

"One problem. Drinking strong spirits is how I pray."

"I'll just tell Mom you poured your whiskey down the drain, and when I left, you were on your knees thanking God for making chickens so she could cook com tay cam."

"Never knew your mom to take no for an answer," Ethan said.

Benny smiled. "She won't take yes for an answer, either. She doesn't expect an answer at all. Only dutiful obedience."

Now, an hour later, Ethan stood at a window, gazing at the thin rain, like threads of seed pearls, accessorizing the hills of Bel Air.

Watching weather clarified his thinking.

Sometimes only nature felt real, while all human monuments and actions seemed to be the settings and the plots of dreams.

From his uniform days through his plainclothes career, friends on the force had said that he did too much thinking. Some of them were dead.

The apple had come in the sixth black box received in ten days. The contents of the previous five had been disturbing.

Courses in criminal psychology, combined with years of street experience, made Ethan hard to impress in matters regarding the human capacity for evil. Yet these gifts provoked his deep concern.

In recent years, influenced by the operatically flamboyant villains in films, every common gangbanger and every would-be serial killer, starring in his own mind movie, could not simply do his dirty work and move along. Most seemed to be obsessed with developing a dramatic persona, colorful crime-scene signatures, and ingenious taunts either to torment their victims beforehand or, after a murder, to scoff at the claimed competence of law-enforcement agencies.

Their sources of inspiration, however, were all hackneyed. They succeeded only in making fearsome acts of cruelty seem as tiresome as the antics of an unfunny clown.

The sender of the black boxes succeeded where others failed. For one thing, his wordless threats were inventive.

When his intentions were at last known and the threats could be better understood in light of whatever actions he took, they might also prove to be clever. Even fiendishly so.

In addition, he conferred on himself no silly or clumsy name to delight the tabloid press when eventually they became aware of his game. He signed no name at all, which indicated self-assurance and no desperate desire for celebrity.

For another thing, his target was the biggest movie star in the world, perhaps the most guarded man in the nation after the President of the United States. Yet instead of stalking in secret, he revealed his intentions in wordless riddles full of menace, ensuring that his quarry would be made even more difficult to reach than usual.

Having turned the apple over and over in his mind, examining the details of its packaging and presentation, Ethan fetched a pair of cuticle scissors from the bathroom. At last he returned to the desk.

He pulled the chair from the knee space. He sat, pushed aside the empty gift box, and placed the repaired apple at the center of the blotter.

The first five black boxes, each a different size, and their contents had been examined for fingerprints. He had dusted three of the deliveries himself, without success.

Because the black boxes came without a word of explanation, the authorities would not consider them to be death threats. As long as the sender's intention remained open to debate, this failed to be a matter for the police.

Deliveries 4 and 5 had been trusted to an old friend in the print lab of the Scientific Investigation Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, who processed them off the record. They were placed in a glass tank and subjected to a cloud of cyanoacrylate fumes, which readily condensed as a resin on the oils that formed latent prints.

In fluorescent light, no friction-ridge patterns of white resin had been visible. Likewise, in a darkened lab, with a cone-shaded halogen lamp focused at oblique angles, the boxes and their contents continued to appear clean.

Black magnetic powder, applied with a Magna-Brush, had revealed nothing. Even bathed in a methanol solution of rhodamine 6G, scanned in a dark lab with the eerie beam from a water-cooled argon ion laser generator, the objects had revealed no telltale luminous whorls.

The nameless stalker was too careful to leave such evidence.

Nevertheless, Ethan handled this sixth delivery with the care he'd exhibited while examining the five previous items. Surely no prints existed to be spoiled, but he might want to check later.

With the cuticle scissors, he snipped seven stitches, leaving the final three to serve as hinges.

The sender must have treated the apple with lemon juice or with another common culinary preservative to ensure a proper presentation. The meat was mostly white, with only minor browning near the peel.

The core remained. The seed pocket had been scooped clean of pits, however, to provide a setting for the inserted item.

Ethan had expected a worm: earthworm, corn earworm, cutworm, leech, caterpillar, trematode, one type of worm or another.

Instead, nestled in the apple flesh, he found an eye.

For an ugly instant, he thought the eye might be real. Then he saw that it was only a plastic orb with convincing details.

Not an orb, actually, but a hemisphere. The back of the eye proved to be flat, with a button loop.

Somewhere a half-blinded doll still smiled.

When the stalker looked at the doll, perhaps he saw the famous object of his obsession likewise mutilated.

Ethan was nearly as disturbed by this discovery as he might have been if he'd found a real eye in the red delicious.

Under the eye, in the hollowed-out seed pocket, was a tightly folded slip of paper, slightly damp with absorbed juice. When he unfolded it, he saw typing, the first direct message in the six packages:

The eye in the apple? The watchful worm? The worm of original sin? Do words have any purpose other than confusion?

Ethan was confused, all right. Whatever it meant, this threat—the eye in the apple—struck him as particularly vicious. Here the sender had made an angry if enigmatic statement, the symbolism of which must be correctly interpreted, and urgently.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 120 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 17, 2011

    Amazing read

    I could barely put it down. If you have never read a koontz book, this is the one to start with!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    I REALLY enjoyed this book. A real page turner, it was hard to put down!

    It did start to creep me out a little, and I was concerned it would lean more toward horror than I would prefer - but it never crossed that line. I risked it and continued to read, and was glad I did. I'm a real scaredy cat so that's a testament to how good this book is. I did get a little scared when reading it alone at night in the dark (on my Nook Color), but I simply couldn't put it down.

    The book kept me guessing and continued to enthrall and surprise me from beginning to end.

    Once I finished this book, I went on to a new book I got from one of my favorite authors, and my favorite series of hers - but couldn't get into it. The FACE is a hard act to follow.

    I highly recommend this book! Yet another amazing work from Dean Koonz.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    AWESOME! Reminded me why Dean Koontz is my favorite author!

    I bought this book to read at the beach (my favorite place to read) but only thought that I would read a few pages. I ending up reading it in just 3 days; it was so hard to put down! It has a really good plot, as well as complex and interesting characters. I would completely reccommend this book to anyone, as I would for most of Dean Koontz books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    The best Dean Koontz ever!

    I have been reading Dean Koontz for years and while I haven't read all of his novels, I've read most of them. This one is the best. It was a wonderful, thought provoking story, a real page turner and a genuine thriller. I went through so many emotions while reading it. At one point, I was so creeped out, I had to put the book down until the next morning. By the end, I was crying my eyes out. I usually don't read books more than once, but I'll definitely read this one again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    Where to start

    First of all the writing is atrocious, painfull really. I don't think Koontz understands that he's not paid by the adjective. The plot is boring. But worst are Koontz's caricatures of liberals. They are vicious, cowardly and resemble no liberal I've ever met. Libertarian propaganda+one dimensional characters+bombastic boring writing. I completely agree with the reviewer who said King at his worst is a million times better than this. Koontz isn't fit to even be mentioned in the same category as King.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2013

    Misque- Excellent. New & Exciting

    Misque says...Please read. You won't be disappointed. Different in idea and format. Excellent reading!!

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  • Posted February 8, 2013

    Loved it so much I have read it 3 times!

    Great story!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Wonderful book

    Loved it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012


    Couldnt stop reading.

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  • Posted January 19, 2012

    Very good read

    A very good read with some twists and turns. Only gave it four stars because it's not one of my favorites, but I enjoyed it plenty, nonetheless.

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  • Posted August 2, 2010

    This book isn't even as good as Stephen King at his worst!!

    I got about 300 pages in and then started skimming. The writing was repetitive, the characters one dimensional and I felt the author couldn't decide if he wanted this to be a supernatural thriller or a "surprise at the end" real mystery. I hated it. I stopped reading Koontz a long time ago. I remember why. I didn't make it to the end. I didn't care what happened.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008


    The plot was different and in some aspects predictable. This book had some intense scenes but also had some long boring drawn out sections. If it had been condensed I think it would have been much better.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2007


    This is Dean Koontz's best book of all. It had all the right elements of a great thriller. Not only did I really like most of the characters, it creeped me out too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007


    Well let me start by saying that when I first began reading this book I was skeptical, but over time I become so engrossed in it i couldn't put it down!I started by reading it for my freshman book report but ended up reading it for fun!The only thing I had trouble with was realizing you had to accept all the book said as a 'truth' or you wouldn't understand it completely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    It's All My Fault !

    Matt, Martin, Mark, and Natalie are all teens who love to do crazy and different things. They decided one night to go to a club they were invited to earlier that day. Matt and Mark didn¿t think it was a good idea to go because it was over on the other side of town, where gangs and violence always took place. Natalie and Martin convinced Matt and Mark to go with them. They arrived at the club at ten pm. They had a good time drinking and dancing until they leave. Martin and Mark make a decision they will never forget. Mark walks off with a couple bumps and bruises and Martin is in the hospital for over a month trying to fight the fact that he will never look or be the same again. I think this book would be one of my top three books that I have read. I loved the way the author wrote the book. He has the whole book wrote in Martins point of view, which I think made the book a lot better and interesting. This book has a whole lot of emotion that keeps the reader way more interested. I found it hard not to cry in a few parts of the book because it makes you feel like you are right there seeing and dealing with the actions of the characters. This book isn¿t in a serious and it doesn¿t remind me of a movie or show, this book reminds me of my cousin Brittany. Brittany was faced with a choice and she chose the wrong answer. Now she is face with so many scars to remind her of the wrong choice she made. She doesn¿t look the same just as Martin didn¿t. She had to show everybody that one wrong mistake can change your life forever, such as Martin. I would recommend this book to any male or female who likes to read really emotional books. If you like sport books or funny books this is not the book for you.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2006

    Couldn't make it through...

    I've recently discovered the joy of audio CDs and looked forward to this one with great anticipation. I haven't read Dean Koontz in years and was hoping for something great... now I remember why I stopped reading. I only made it through 1/3 of the book before my frustration with the endless descriptions got me. I had to stop. The action would start to pick up and I'd get bashed in the face with a 20 minute description of something that could have taken 3 minutes!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2006

    Dean Koontz Amazing As Usual!

    The Face is a suspenseful novel filled with fascinating characters and bone chilling horror. Enter a world where mystery's need to be solved in this realm and beyond. This book surpassed my expectations. Five stars!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2006

    This book Stinks!

    This was my first Dean Koontz book. I struggled thru the first 500 pages and finally it started picking up. Some of the pieces were interesting, but most of the book was rubbish. The end got better, but then again, it couldn't have got any worse for me. I would recommend Watchers(which I picked up despite reading this first) which is a far superior book in every way possible.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2005

    Had to finish

    Once I started to read this book I couldn't put it down. I was entranced for about a week and I have to say I really liked the ending. I really liked Fric and Ethan. The Dunnie thing sort of stretched the imagination but it added a touch of hope to the whole story line. That Corky Laputa, well his last name says it all. Its a must read.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews

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