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I like reading Dean Koontz's books, and am a bit obsessive when it comes to owning them all. My "Only from Charity Shops Koontz Quest" took a step nearer completion recently when I acquired "Breathless". I've got mixed feelings about this one, a bit like a dairy farmer that's just heard Asda will finally give him a fair price for his milk, only to discover that his herd has foot and mouth disease.
First of all - here's a synopsis of the plot (minus its culmination, naturally!) then please find my opinions after that.
The different elements of the plot are:
1. A chap called Grady Adams has two mysterious animals enter his house, he gets a vet friend involved called Camille Rivers (Cammie) to help him identify the animals. This is the main plot.
2. A man called Henry Rouvroy visits his estranged brother of 15 years, kills him and his wife then barricades himself into their house where strange things start to happen.
3. Dr Lamar Woolsey is a man that's hard to fathom. His speciality is the mathematics behind chaos, and he uses his knowledge to predict card sequences in casinos. Initially he seems like a good natured character as he gives his winnings away, but as his sub plot develops, a far more sinister side to his character is revealed.
4. Lastly, there is a sub plot evolving around a drunken vagrant named Tom Bigger who, after a strange experience on a beach sets off on a mysterious mission which Dean Koontz deliberately obscures until the end.
Somehow, all of these sub plots are combined with the main storyline (Grady Adams and the mysterious animals) at the book's climax. All makes sense, sort of, at that point.
Oh Dean, oh dear. I really wanted to be blown away by this book, in the end I only felt a slight draught as I threw the book down in disappointment at the ending. At first I was led to believe by what I was reading that I might have found another "Watchers", also by Dean Koontz, and is an absolute cracker. The encounter in the wooded hills with an unexplainable animal made me hope for this, but then quicker than an Ashley Young dive in the penalty area, the book nose dives and went like Boris Johnson's hair - all over the place and hard to take seriously.
I can see what Koontz was trying to do by joining up several different storylines in an attempt to deliver a megaton bomb of a finish (love him or not, Terry Pratchett is a master at combining several different threads at the end of a story and does what Koontz attempted here very well), but instead of an atomic climax, it's more of a clap by hands wearing thick wooly mittens. Considering how good Koontz can be, I found the ending very disappointing.
I'd recommend you read this book if: a. like me, you are compulsively driven to own all of his books, b. you've never read Intensity or Watchers (also both by Koontz) as you will find this crushingly poor if you have, and c. some sort of apocalyptic natural disaster has destroyed every other book on earth apart from this one and you've no other choice.
I'm really tempted to tell you how the book ends just to save you the inconvenience of having to read it yourselves. But I won't - I suffered, you shall too! A very rarely awarded one star from me.
After the last fairly disappointing offering from Koontz, I was in two minds over whether or not to read this but had it bought for me as a present and thought it would be rude not to. I certainly wouldn't have bought it despite the fact that I have read Koontz for many years through good novels and some, admittedly, bad!
The book begins by following several, apparently seperate, plot strands which, inevitably as always in Koontz's books, all come together in the final pages. First we get Grady Adams, a recluse, who comes across something amazing in the woods whilst out walking his dogs. A pair of creatures of the like that no one has eve seen before that follow him home and make themselves comfortable. His best friend is Cammy, a veterinarian, who herself has been experiencing strange phenomena recently in some animals she has been treating who have begun acting oddly.
Meanwhile, in Vegas, a man supposed to be on a business trip gambles and wins in large amounts only to go on to give away his fortunes to those he deems to be in need.....what exactly is his story and what is his connection to these events?
And then again, there is the hobo who sets out on a journey back to his childhood home; physically disfigured and yet blessed with witnessing a life-changing event that has helped him grasp something he long thought was lost; hope!
Finally, we meet Henry who returns to his twin brothers farm with the intention of stealing his sibling's life. With yet another plot strand to explore, the reader now finds themself beginning to question how exactly all these seperate arcs are going to fit together and the answer is...not very well!
The story feels padded, at times almost forced, and there are lots of references and in-joke nods to earlier Koontz works with familiar themes once more raising their head. There is mention for example of a character whose son has Downs Syndrome ( something that was explored in more detail in an earlier novel), one of the characters is named Nora (as I believe was one of the lead characters in Watchers), and dogs again play a vital part of the initial set-up ~ as they seem to do in so many of his books. I am sure there are more that I have not mentioned but all this just feels like too overly fam,iliar ground to long-time Koontz fans. To the point where it almost becomes tiresome!
I really like Koontz and have many of his novels including some out of print! But this is only just above awful and even then, the book is really scraping its way out into the land of mediocrity!
If you are a long-time fan, prepare to be disappointed! If you are a newcomer, I pity you because this latest offering may just put you off what has been a once very clever and imaginative author who now seems destined to resort to cliche and petty gimmicky plot devices that are never fully explored or explained satisfactorily to sell his novels!