Velocityby Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz’s unique talent for writing terrifying thrillers with a heart and soul is nowhere more evident than in this latest suspense masterpiece that pits one man against the ultimate deadline. If there were speed limits for the sheer pulse-racing excitement allowed in one novel, Velocity would break them all. Get ready for the ride of your life.
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.
It seems like a sick joke, and Bill’s friend on the police force, Lanny Olson, thinks so too. His advice to Bill is to go home and forget about it. Besides, what could they do even if they took the note seriously? No crime has actually been committed. But less than twenty-four hours later, a young blond schoolteacher is found murdered, and it’s Bill’s fault: he didn’t convince the police to get involved. Now he’s got another note, another deadline, another ultimatum–and two new lives hanging in the balance.
Suddenly Bill’s average, seemingly innocuous life takes on the dimensions and speed of an accelerating nightmare. Because the notes are coming faster, the deadlines growing tighter, and the killer becoming bolder and crueler with everycommunication–until Bill is isolated with the terrifying knowledge that he alone has the power of life and death over a psychopath’s innocent victims. Until the struggle between good and evil is intensely personal. Until the most chilling words of all are: The choice is yours.
The New York Times
“Terrifying . . . Velocity will have readers turning the pages—and checking to make sure their doors are locked and bolted.”—Associated Press
“An outstanding roller-coaster ride . . . an edge-of-your-seat thriller . . . with multi-dimensional characters, agonizing suspense and a plot filled with . . . twists [from] America’s finest storyteller.”—The Washington Examiner
“A top-notch thriller full of well-drawn characters and anxiety-spiked sequences.”—Chicago Tribune
Read an Excerpt
By Dean Koontz
Random HouseDean Koontz
All right reserved.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
With draft beer and a smile, Ned Pearsall raised a toast to his deceased neighbor, Henry Friddle, whose death greatly pleased him.
Henry had been killed by a garden gnome. He had fallen off the roof of his two-story house, onto that cheerful-looking figure. The gnome was made of concrete. Henry wasn't.
A broken neck, a cracked skull: Henry perished on impact.
This death-by-gnome had occurred four years previously. Ned Pearsall still toasted Henry's passing at least once a week.
Now, from a stool near the curve of the polished mahogany bar, an out-of-towner, the only other customer, expressed curiosity at the enduring nature of Ned's animosity.
"How bad a neighbor could the poor guy have been that you're still so juiced about him?"
Ordinarily, Ned might have ignored the question. He had even less use for tourists than he did for pretzels.
The tavern offered free bowls of pretzels because they were cheap. Ned preferred to sustain his thirst with well-salted peanuts.
To keep Ned tipping, Billy Wiles, tending bar, occasionally gave him a bag of Planters.
Most of the time Ned had to pay for his nuts. This rankled him either because he could not grasp the economic realities of tavern operation or because he enjoyed being rankled, probably the latter.
Although he had a head reminiscent of a squash ball and the heavy rounded shoulders of a sumo wrestler, Ned was an athletic man only if you thought barroom jabber and grudge-holding qualified as sports. In those events, he was an Olympian.
Regarding the late Henry Friddle, Ned could be as talkative with outsiders as with lifelong residents of Vineyard Hills. When, as
now, the only other customer was a stranger, Ned found silence even less congenial than conversation with a "foreign devil."
Billy himself had never been much of a talker, never one of those barkeeps who considered the bar a stage. He was a listener.
To the out-of-towner, Ned declared, "Henry Friddle was a pig."
The stranger had hair as black as coal dust with traces of ash at the temples, gray eyes bright with dry amusement, and a softly resonant voice. "That's a strong word--pig."
"You know what the pervert was doing on his roof? He was trying to piss on my dining-room windows."
Wiping the bar, Billy Wiles didn't even glance at the tourist. He'd heard this story so often that he knew all the reactions to it.
"Friddle, the pig, figured the altitude would give his stream more distance," Ned explained.
The stranger said, "What was he--an aeronautical engineer?"
"He was a college professor. He taught contemporary literature."
"Maybe reading that stuff drove him to suicide," the tourist said, which made him more interesting than Billy had first thought.
"No, no," Ned said impatiently. "The fall was accidental."
"Was he drunk?"
"Why would you think he was drunk?" Ned wondered.
The stranger shrugged. "He climbed on a roof to urinate on your windows."
"He was a sick man," Ned explained, plinking one finger against his empty glass to indicate the desire for another round.
Drawing Budweiser from the tap, Billy said, "Henry Friddle was consumed by vengeance."
After silent communion with his brew, the tourist asked Ned Pearsall, "Vengeance? So you urinated on Friddle's windows first?"
"It wasn't the same thing at all," Ned warned in a rough tone that advised the outsider to avoid being judgmental.
"Ned didn't do it from his roof," Billy said.
"That's right. I walked up to his house, like a man, stood on his lawn, and aimed at his dining-room windows."
"Henry and his wife were having dinner at the time," Billy said.
Before the tourist might express revulsion at the timing of this assault, Ned said, "They were eating quail, for God's sake."
"You showered their windows because they were eating quail?"
Ned sputtered with exasperation. "No, of course not. Do I look insane to you?" He rolled his eyes at Billy.
Billy raised his eyebrows as though to say What do you expect of a tourist?
"I'm just trying to convey how pretentious they were," Ned clarified, "always eating quail or snails, or Swiss chard."
"Phony bastards," the tourist said with such a light seasoning of mockery that Ned Pearsall didn't detect it, although Billy did.
"Exactly," Ned confirmed. "Henry Friddle drove a Jaguar,
and his wife drove a car--you won't believe this--a car made in Sweden."
"Detroit was too common for them," said the tourist.
"Exactly. How much of a snob do you have to be to bring a car all the way from Sweden?"
The tourist said, "I'll wager they were wine connoisseurs."
"Big time! Did you know them or something?"
"I just know the type. They had a lot of books."
"You've got 'em nailed," Ned declared. "They'd sit on the front porch, sniffing their wine, reading books."
"Right out in public. Imagine that. But if you didn't pee on their dining-room windows because they were snobs, why did you?"
"A thousand reasons," Ned assured him. "The incident of the skunk. The incident of the lawn fertilizer. The dead petunias."
"And the garden gnome," Billy added as he rinsed glasses in the bar sink.
"The garden gnome was the last straw," Ned agreed.
"I can understand being driven to aggressive urination by pink plastic flamingos," said the tourist, "but, frankly, not by a gnome."
Ned scowled, remembering the affront. "Ariadne gave it my face."
"Henry Friddle's wife. You ever heard a more pretentious name?"
"Well, the Friddle part brings it down to earth."
"She was an art professor at the same college. She sculpted the gnome, created the mold, poured the concrete, painted it herself."
"Having a sculpture modeled after you can be an honor."
The beer foam on Ned's upper lip gave him a rabid appearance as he protested: "It was a gnome, pal. A drunken gnome. The nose was as red as an apple. It was carrying a beer bottle in each hand."
"And its fly was unzipped," Billy added.
"Thanks so much for reminding me," Ned grumbled. "Worse, hanging out of its pants was the head and neck of a dead goose."
"How creative," said the tourist.
"At first I didn't know what the hell that meant--"
"Yeah, yeah. I figured it out. Everybody who walked past their place saw it, and got a laugh at my expense."
"Wouldn't need to see the gnome for that," said the tourist.
Misunderstanding, Ned agreed: "Right. Just hearing about it, people were laughing. So I busted up the gnome with a sledgehammer."
"And they sued you."
"Worse. They set out another gnome. Figuring I'd bust up the first, Ariadne had cast and painted a second."
"I thought life was mellow here in the wine country."
"Then they tell me," Ned continued, "if I bust up the second one, they'll put a third on the lawn, plus they'll manufacture a bunch and sell 'em at cost to anyone who wants a Ned Pearsall gnome."
"Sounds like an empty threat," said the tourist. "Would there really be people who'd want such a thing?"
"Dozens," Billy assured him.
"This town's become a mean place since the pate-and-brie crowd started moving in from San Francisco," Ned said sullenly.
"So when you didn't dare take a sledgehammer to the second gnome, you were left with no choice but to pee on their windows."
"Exactly. But I didn't just go off half-cocked. I thought about the situation for a week. Then I hosed them."
"After which, Henry Friddle climbed on his roof with a full bladder, looking for justice."
"Yeah. But he waited till I had a birthday dinner for my mom."
"Unforgivable," Billy judged.
"Does the Mafia attack innocent members of a man's family?" Ned asked indignantly.
Although the question had been rhetorical, Billy played for his tip: "No. The Mafia's got class."
"Which is a word these professor types can't even spell," Ned said. "Mom was seventy-six. She could have had a heart attack."
"So," the tourist said, "while trying to urinate on your dining-room windows, Friddle fell off his roof and broke his neck on the Ned Pearsall gnome. Pretty ironic."
"I don't know ironic," Ned replied. "But it sure was sweet."
"Tell him what your mom said," Billy urged.
Following a sip of beer, Ned obliged: "My mom told me, 'Honey, praise the Lord, this proves there's a God.'"
After taking a moment to absorb those words, the tourist said, "She sounds like quite a religious woman."
"She wasn't always. But at seventy-two, she caught pneumonia."
"It's sure convenient to have God at a time like that."
"She figured if God existed, maybe He'd save her. If He didn't exist, she wouldn't be out nothing but some time wasted on prayer."
"Time," the tourist advised, "is our most precious possession."
"True," Ned agreed. "But Mom wouldn't have wasted much because mostly she could pray while she watched TV."
"What an inspiring story," said the tourist, and ordered a beer.
Billy opened a pretentious bottle of Heineken, provided a fresh chilled glass, and whispered, "This one's on the house."
"That's nice of you. Thanks. I'd been thinking you're quiet and soft-spoken for a bartender, but now maybe I understand why."
From his lonely outpost farther along the bar, Ned Pearsall raised his glass in a toast. "To Ariadne. May she rest in peace."
Although it might have been against his will, the tourist was engaged again. Of Ned, he asked, "Not another gnome tragedy?"
"Cancer. Two years after Henry fell off the roof. I sure wish it hadn't happened."
Pouring the fresh Heineken down the side of his tilted glass, the stranger said, "Death has a way of putting our petty squabbles in perspective."
"I miss her," Ned said. "She had the most spectacular rack, and she didn't always wear a bra."
The tourist twitched.
"She'd be working in the yard," Ned remembered almost dreamily, "or walking the dog, and that fine pair would be bouncing and swaying so sweet you couldn't catch your breath."
The tourist checked his face in the back-bar mirror, perhaps to see if he looked as appalled as he felt.
"Billy," Ned asked, "didn't she have the finest set of mamas you could hope to see?"
"She did," Billy agreed.
Ned slid off his stool, shambled toward the men's room, paused at the tourist. "Even when cancer withered her, those mamas didn't shrink. The leaner she got, the bigger they were in proportion. Almost to the end, she looked hot. What a waste, huh, Billy?"
"What a waste," Billy echoed as Ned continued to the men's room.
After a shared silence, the tourist said, "You're an interesting guy, Billy Barkeep."
"Me? I've never hosed anyone's windows."
"You're like a sponge, I think. You take everything in."
Billy picked up a dishcloth and polished some pilsner glasses that had previously been washed and dried.
"But then you're a stone too," the tourist said, "because if you're squeezed, you give nothing back."
Billy continued polishing the glasses.
The gray eyes, bright with amusement, brightened further. "You're a man with a philosophy, which is unusual these days, when most people don't know who they are or what they believe, or why."
This, too, was a style of barroom jabber with which Billy was familiar, though he didn't hear it often. Compared to Ned Pearsall's rants, such boozy observations could seem erudite; but it was all just beer-based psychoanalysis.
He was disappointed. Briefly, the tourist had seemed different from the usual two-cheeked heaters who warmed the barstool vinyl.
Smiling, shaking his head, Billy said, "Philosophy. You give me too much credit."
The tourist sipped his Heineken.
Although Billy had not intended to say more, he heard himself continue: "Stay low, stay quiet, keep it simple, don't expect much,
enjoy what you have."
The stranger smiled. "Be self-sufficient, don't get involved, let the world go to Hell if it wants."
"Maybe," Billy conceded.
"Admittedly, it's not Plato," said the tourist, "but it is a philosophy."
"You have one of your own?" Billy asked.
"Right now, I believe that my life will be better and more meaningful if I can just avoid any further conversation with Ned."
"That's not a philosophy," Billy told him. "That's a fact."
At ten minutes past four, Ivy Elgin came to work. She was a waitress as good as any and an object of desire without equal.
Billy liked her but didn't long for her. His lack of lust made him unique among the men who worked or drank in the tavern.
Ivy had mahogany hair, limpid eyes the color of brandy, and the body for which Hugh Hefner had spent his life searching.
Although twenty-four, she seemed genuinely unaware that she was the essential male fantasy in the flesh. She was never seductive.
Excerpted from Velocity 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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What a ride. The plot is slick, fast-paced and very entertaining. The ending is both satisfying and touching. As in much of Koontz's work, several plot points do strain credibility. This is but a minor fault in a popular fiction designed to entertain. When Koontz is on, he is ON. Quite fun. Highly recommended. Note that there are no supernatural or paranormal elements to this story. The horrors are strictly of the human variety, and, in my opinion, that makes them even more scary.
Velocity was a great thriller. The suspense kept me reading it until I finished it and uncovered the mystery. The premise is that Billy, a hardworking, quiet bartender, recieves a note telling him he has the power to determine who the writer of the note murders. Billy decides that the note is a malicious prank and ignores it. He's ready to move on until one of the possible victims the note indicated ends up dead. More notes arrive and Billy realizes that he's dealing with a serial killer who's so expertly tangled him in his murderous web that he can't even contact the police. I love how Dean Koontz took a premise so frightening and made it wholly believable. He had red herrings and dozens of clues that kept me guessing. Koontz managed to keep the storyline of the relentless killer going at a breakneck speed while developing all the characters. In Velocity there were two mysteries side by side- the mystery of the killer's identity and motivation and the mystery of how Billy is more than just an average bartender. I loved how I had to keep reaing to peel back layer upon layer of who the protaganist really was. It added to the suspense. The climax was completely suprising and thrilling and led to a perfectly written conclusion. I loved this book because it also dealt with deeper topics like the human condition. So it offered entertainment and integrity. Dean Koontz is an excellent writer and I definitely recommend this one.
(Originally written January 23, 2006) I was a Dean R. Koontz fan long ago, and since I've gotten back into reading, I see Mr. Koontz has remained as skilled as ever. I recently read and was thrilled by "Intensity," but even so, I was STILL blown away by "Velocity!" What can I say? Once this novel got going, which did not take any time, every chapters, almost every PAGE had me on the edge of my seat! Koontz throws you in with hero Billy and never lets either of you rest. This novel is also strong in the What-Would-YOU-Do? category. While "Intensity" took me along for the ride, "Velocity" made me feel even more like I was at the center of the story. I kept trying to figure out how I would handle each situation even as I waited to see what Billy would do next. As is Koontz's habit, we are once again treated to his standard "Man with a sad background" character. But this time, the "Woman with a terrible background" character is absent (or at least in a coma). And so, as with "Intensity," I was able to look past this "stock" character and focus more on the story. As a result, I have no real complaints about Koontz's work this time around. "Velocity" edges out "Dream Parlor" by Christopher Andrews as my current favorite novel, and I am pleased to give another 5-star rating.
THIS BOOK IS GREAT. I WAS SO INTO IT THAT IT WAS LIKE I WAS THERE. THE SUSPENSE IS UNBELIEVABLE. THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE READ. IT KEPT ME ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT. WANTING MORE, AND AFRAID TO TURN THE PAGE. IT WAS ONE SUPRISE AFTER THE NEXT. EASY, FAST, AND EXCITING READ.
VELOCITY was a very engaging story. The main character Billy Wiles just can't seem to make the right decision given the choices he is given. Killing, mayhem, entrapment, and love. It's all in there. I highly recommend VELOCITY. The novel is good to it's name.
A hard book to put down. One that will keep you at the edge of your seat!
Omg! Excellent read, keeps you in suspense wondering what is next ! I have this in hard copy and may buy it again so that I canhave it on my nook .
just awesome! its over before you know it. A perfect ending!
You read quotes and just melt from sheer perfection when you read this book. Velocity is one of the best Koontz books by a landslide.
Dean Koontz's Velocity is a thrilling, exciting, and unpredictable. ONe minute you will think this will happen, but the next thing you you know the exact opposite happens. The main character, Billy, gets note from the 'freak', as Billy calls him, in which he has to choose from two very different, unnamed people for the freak to kill. Each note gets more interesting as the story progresses. Suspense is present throughout the whole novel. The reader will have their head spinning in circles trying to figure out who the 'freak' is. And why the freak chose Billy. This book is great for somebody who wants a true thriller. I applaud Dean Koontzs in creating this exhilarating novel. You will truly be satisfied.
Suspenceful and twisted from the start, this is a typical Koontz story. Velocity is a fun mystyery and troubling at the same time. It is impossible not to empathize with Billy, the main character, though you will question his sanity. You will ask yourself what choices you would make in his place. It would be a profound (and of course horrifying) moral quandary in which to find yourself. You might think you couldn't choose another person to die, but if it might save the person you most love from torture and death, you would do it. Probably without hesitation. This kind of novel helps you appreciate the relatively uneventful calm of your routine life...and includes a shout out to Charles Dickens. Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel "To Be Chosen."
I've been a big fan of Dean Koontz since reading Watchers the year after it came out, and I normally like everything he writes. Velocity is a decent novel, but it represents a departure from some of Koontz's normal style conventions. Although I appreciate the effort to do something different, to experiment a bit, I thought the experiment was unsuccessful. The book is tense and suspenseful, as Koontz novels always are, but throughout most of the novel I felt it lacked something. It was not until the end that I realized what. Probably my favorite aspect of Dean Koontz's novels is his wonderful characterization, and his startling ability, novel after novel, with character after character, to make me love and care about his characters. His novels are "page turners" because I care so much about the characters. I worry about them. I want them to make it. And so I keep reading; I can't put the books down. In Velocity, however, I did not feel the same way. There's really only one character. The book is told entirely from his perspective -- it could easily have been written in first person format. There are no scene breaks, no shifts into someone else's mind. Although that is fine, the problem here is that I didn't really like main character Billy Wiles very much. I didn't find myself DIS-liking him either... But I didn't care about him the way I've cared about characters in all of Koontz's other novels. Billy becomes somewhat likable in the very last few chapters, but it happens too late, and for the bulk of the book I found him uninteresting. Don't get me wrong. Velocity is not a bad book. If this were a novel by some other author I'd never heard of, I'd probably say it was pretty decent. But as a Koontz novel, I felt it was one of Dean's weaker offerings. My advice is, save this for last, and read all the other ones first. They're all better than this one.
It definately catches your attention from the very first sentence and as it carries on you'll find yourself not only questioning what choices you would make in Billy's place but you'll be on the edge of your seat and shocked by each sudden twist. Waiting alongside Billy is difficult and you'll be frustrated, wanting to know what on earth is going to happen next--but such is Koontz's genius, making you endure it too.
I was walking through the aisle of Walgreens and saw the cover. Me being a car guy, it caught my eye. I read the back cover and was hooked. So I bought it. I could not wait to get to the end, but I didn't want it to end. I would recommend this to everybody.
Reading this book was quite fun, perhaps best described as feeling very lucky for not being in the main character's shoes. For a regular young guy keeping busy by bar tending, Billy Wiles is not very remarkable until we see him in distress. Out of the blue his life is being pulled in all sorts of crazy directions and the puppeteer pulling all his strings is a total freak who plays twisted mind games and plants all sorts of discriminating evidence in Billy's house, memorabilia of his past killings in random bodies and parts planted to keep him from running to the police. When he starts finding random notes asking him who to spare and who to kill, Billy refuses to play the game, but his friends start disappearing and he has no choice but to play the game and maybe even try and win it, without turning into a psycho himself.
I haven't read Koontz in a while, not by any conscious choice, but this week I suddenly craved his stable fiction that always satisfies, like a piece of cake, there are plenty of choices and they rarely fail even if they aren't the most nutritious. For some odd reason I couldn't get into the book at first, it reads fast but the first fifty pages were not a smooth read, perhaps I was being distracted by my surrounding but once I had time and quiet the book zoomed past me and I read it in two days. Most of the time at the end of each short chapter, the final paragraphs kept exploding with more and more crazy stuff, it felt like Billy was never getting his innocence and sanity back and it was impossible to put the book away or go to sleep or do anything else. The title defies the book perfectly, the way one person's life starts to crumble, the hole in the ground being dug deeper and deeper by a mysterious foe who knows everything about Billy but who's pulling the rug from under his feet in random directions getting him into more trouble by the minute. Playing tricks and games, treating people and their precious lives as a toy; something to play with, to get off to, the killer is cunning and cold, driving though his plan to bring Billy down. But lucky for us Billy is no sap and in some interesting ways plans to catch up to the maniac.
Koontz does a great job of making Billy feel for all those who have perished, the deaths aren't meaningless and added to make the book soupy with gore, they are mourned and talked about form different angles, making the reader feel real sorrow and it made me think a little more about my own mortality, the way it can so easily be extinguished. Luckily this was just a book, and a great way to spend a dark and cold night. Now of course all I want to read is Koontz...I must say, he's a little bit addictive and I've acquired quite a bit of his stuff over the years.
- Kasia S.
Loved it, I started the book and had it completely finished in 3 days. I couldnt put it down. I litteraly walked around, at work, at home, with this book glued to my hands. I read it before going to work, I read it on breaks, I read it on my lunch hour, I read it afterwork on my way home (no, I wasnt driving), I read while eating dinner, I read it at home in bed. So many twists & turns, everytime you think you know who's leaving the notes, you find how wrong you were. Most authors spend the first 5-6 chapters filling them with boering backgrounds on all their charachters before moving you into the story. Not Koontz - he jumps in from the very beginning hurling you into the story. Then slowly bleeds out the background info on characters throughout the book in such small pieces it leaves you waiting to learn more. ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT & would HIGHLY recommend to anyone who likes good twisty, turny, murder mysteries. This would be great made into a mini movie
Unusual (as usual for Koontz) story which moves along at a brisk pace. The characters are well written and you feel empathy for the main character Bill. I always like the way that Dean Koontz finds to end his books. They are uplifting without being too cliche.
Velocity is my first Koontz novel. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed by this book. Koontz captures a world of suspense, terror, and mystery in just one book. Billy Wiles is a character many of us can relate to, and because of this, Koontz manages to take us through many of the same emotions that Wiles felt during the 'terror'. I honestly felt psychotic after I read Velocity. It can mess with your mind. No other book has done that for me. The storyline holds a strong premise in this book. Choose one person's life or death over another's. This basic scheme provides the suspense for most of the plot. We encounter Wiles attempting to make a decision while desperately searching for the killer and covering his tracks. This was a strong point in the novel. Just to reiterate, this book is not a hard read. It was a fairly quick read for me, mainly because I couldn't set it down. I found myself reading one hundred pages at a time or more. Velocity is chock full on nonstop action. Unlike some other thrillers, where one must wait for 1/3 of the book to develop before they witness a breaking action, Koontz hits the ground running and never stops. This book is action, action, and more action. I would have to say thats a great way to write. I thoroughly enjoyed Velocity by Dean Koontz. I have a huge appreciation for his writing and now I am on the way to the bookstore to purchase his remaining books. This book should keep everyone who reads this on the edge of their seat. This was one of the 'coolest' books I have read. Go out and buy it now.
Please keep writing. Between Koontz and King are wonderful.
One of my favorite by Koontz!
Could not put it down deankoontz has a way with words truly