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
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.
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?
“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 climax...you'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
From the Hardcover edition.