Being laid up ill for what feels like the umpteenth time in the last six months, I decided that I couldn't take any more of the dross that gets passed for daytime broadcasting and picked up the thickest book I could find - which happened to be False Memory by Dean Koontz, which I last read long enough ago to have forgotten the majority of the plot details if not the basic premise.
He probably needs little introduction but to the uninitiated, Dean Koontz is pretty much the master and commander of the science fiction / horror easy-reading genre. American, as has been the setting of all of his books that I have read bar one (and that's a technicality), he has over the course of the last couple of decades or so churned out title after title at a mind-boggling rate covering everything from the descent of hell to earth through to homicidal demons delivered in stuffed toys, via Government plots, superhuman powers, a complete reworking of the story of Frankenstein's monster and pretty much anything else you'd like to imagine. Imagination is the key with Koontz - he has a great ability to think up original ideas and new angles and this, combined with an easy-going tone and a flowing writing style, has made him one of the most successful writers of modern times.
I have reviewed one of his books before and read many, and my sole criticism of his writing style is that too often I find his characters, or the variety of them, to be very limited. Whilst not unlikeable, very often the characteristics of the lead protagonists, and those of the secondary and in turn more supportive individuals, will be mirrored on a regular basis. Admittedly when you produce as many works as Koontz there's going to be some overlap, but this often extends to medical traits and even the personality of the seemingly completely and utterly mandatory dog.
My copy of False Memory is a paperback boasting a high-contrast blue, black and white cover printed in the most popular reprint styles of Koontz's work in recent years. It's bold and eye-catching and only now do I think these are starting to look slightly dated.
As with most of the Koontz collection, you can pick these up in charity shops, car boots, used on eBay or Amazon (all for minimal amounts of money) or for the frankly massive prices you'll pay for any book (in this case £7.99) if you are suddenly so desperate that you have to go to Waterstones or similar.
Published by Headline
Dusty and Marti Rhodes are happily married and don't ask much from life other than to be happy together with their dog Valet, earn enough to be comfortable from their respective jobs as a house painter and a computer game designer, and move on with their life from their also respective issues from their past, Dusty his terse relationship with his mother and her succession of intellectual husbands and Marti with the relatively recent passing of her beloved and heroic father, Smilin' Bob.
They seem to be contentedly achieving their aspiration in life together when one day Marti, when walking her dog as always before her twice-weekly errand of escorting her agoraphobic best friend to her therapy sessions, feels a strange sense of unease and fear, which at first she struggles to place until she realizes that, briefly and inexplicable, she felt afraid of her own shadow. Dismissing her apparently temporary silliness and heading off to pick up and indeed cajole Susan Jagger from the secure boundaries of her home out to the offices of her psychiatrist, she thinks nothing more of it, but later that day a similar attack strikes her, leaving her with graphically violent images in her mind and a seemingly suddenly uncontrollable succession of mental images of the violence that she, peaceful and kind Marti, could play out with everyday items all around her.
Before long Marti's mental state has deteriorated into a series of escalating panic attacks, and on what a day for this to happen, for at the latest property he has been commission to paint, Dusty finds his sporadically drug-addled, messed-up half-brother, a member of his staff, convinced that an Angel of Death has told him to jump off a roof and find peace in suicide. Determined to stop him, Dusty climbs the roof with him...
...whilst Susan, once she has completed her therapy session and enjoyed a reward of take-away food with Marti, during which she alludes to revelations Marti was unaware of but that Susan refuses to elaborate on, calls Marti whilst the latter was fighting the grip of these previously unknown panic attacks with a shocking revelation that would stretch the comprehension of most people, let alone someone suddenly forced to battle an inexplicable mental crisis.
So the scene is set for the unfolding of a nightmarish collection of individual psychological scenarios, the extreme nature and timing of which forcing Marti and Dusty to realize that there has to be a connection.
It's hard to review this book any further without giving away too much of the plot and in fact it is a hard book to review at all without spoiling many aspects, so if you think you've read enough I will say this: I enjoyed this, it is written in the author's customarily readable style and yes, it's got a dog in it. It has a good pace and the usual description and imaginative content you would expect of a Koontz novel. I would recommend it to fans of his work and to people who like to spend a lot of time with their nose in a book - this is a 600+ page epic, be warned - but I did not find it to be flawless nor my favourite work he has produced. In order to elaborate on why, I might have to reveal a few more details, so please bear that in mind if you read on. If you'd rather not, then thanks for reading to this point.
**HERE BE DRAGONS...ER...SORRY...POTENTIAL SPOILERS!***
***WHERE I THINK IT GOES WRONG...***
Now, as I said this is a hefty book, and due to the nature of the storyline it would be virtually impossible to execute it without revealing early on who the enemy is in all this, and how they are doing it. There is also how this character is able to get away with doing this due to larger connection in the wider world to establish, and on top of an already very complex plot involving many scenes and scenarios that take a long time to play out with the necessary gravitas, there are further twists at the end of a nature more personal to our leading couple.
The plot in this book relies very heavily on a premise that is heavily linked to that of The Manchurian Candidate - blatantly so, as the book is used and referenced several times in False Memory. To me I'm not sure this comes across entirely as homage so much as a useful mechanism for the use of ideas clearly based within that book, but it would be unfair to accuse Koontz of taking on the idea specifically from the older book because the theory of thought-control techniques is not exclusive to that book either. So worry not Mr Koontz, I'm not accusing you of anything!
Again for me there are formulaic trends amongst the characters, both the good, the bad and the canine, but this is again a characteristic of the author's work and it doesn't detract from this particular story in any way. We like the characters that we are meant to, and it is impossible to like the ones that we do not, therefore the mechanism is an effective one.
For me, if there is a significant flaw then I would have preferred more resolution as to the involvement in support of our perpetrator of a higher power, supposedly a Governmental or some high-level operation, but I personally don't think there was much closure on specifically what this organization was, but then when you have so many pages that at first I actually physically found this book hard to hold open and read before you were some way in and had cracked the spine a bit, that's probably a good thing as for this to have any more duration to it would, to me, be a mistake.
There is humor in this book as well as tension, invention and indeed reinvention of existing ideas, and it kept me interested. Had I not been ill I would have been unlikely to read this in a hurry as there's no way I'm carrying that much book with me on a commute, but as it is with almost solid reading I'd finished this in a day-and-a-half.
I might not rush to read this again as I think that my overall conclusion - enjoyable, but nothing astonishing - would be a good indication of why I left it so long after my first reading to revisit it, and having now done so twice I think there are other books for me to move on to in the future.
For Dean Koontz fans, a success, and probably a fine introduction to his work for other bookworms who aren't afraid to sit down and plough through a bit of an epic.
Martie Rhodes, once a strong independant woman, who designs video games for a living is reduced to a quivering wreck, afraid of her own shadow. Susan Jagger, Martie`s best friend, is agoraphobic, and seems to be getting worse every time Martie sees her. Dusty, Martie`s husband is a house painter, and while on a job he has to stop his half-brother Skeet from jumping off a roof after taking a cocktail of pills. What these people have in common, is a therapist by the name of Dr Ahriman. After taking her friend Susan for therapy sessions, Martie suddenly develops a severe case of autophobia, but calms down once she`s settled in Dr Ahriman`s office. His office also has the same effect on Susan. What is the secret behind Dr Ahriman`s ability to calm people down? After Skeet is admitted into a rehabilitation clinic, Dusty goes to his apartment to get him some stuff. While there, he finds the name of a doctor he hasn`t heard of written down on a piece of paper and decides to question his brother about it. When he mentions this name to Skeet, he gets a response he wasn`t expecting. After a very wierd conversation, Skeet then goes into a trance, followed by a coma like sleep. While this is going on, Martie is busy at home dragging anything that could possibly cause harm, out to a bin in the garden. She has started having visions of herself causing great harm to people, especially her loving husband Dusty. Dusty figures theres something not quite right about all this wierd stuff happening all at once, and is determined to find out what is going on. His investigations lead him to the conclusion that Dr Ahriman is not all he appears to be. ****** THE VILLAIN ****** Dr Ahriman is hypnotising his patients using haiku(a form of Japanese verse), so that he can manipulate them into kiliing people for his own perverse pleasure. After he has finished with them, he gets them to commit suicide so that there is no chance of his
attrocities being discovered. ****** THE HERO ****** Once Dusty has worked out how Dr Ahriman is abusing his position of trust, he uses the haiku to turn the tables on him. ****** THE DOG ****** As any Dean Koontz fan will know, most of his other superb novels nearly always include a clever dog. In this book, the dog appears in the form of Valet, a loveable and faithful golden retriever. Although I have given away much of the plot, don`t let this put you off reading the book. There are lots of twists and turns, so what you think is going to happen next, invariably never does. As with all the Koontz novels that I`ve read, I got completely absorbed in every page, and enjoyed every word of it. The way that each character is described in so much detail really makes the book a much more interesting read, you can quite easily picture all those involved in the story as you are reading. This is yet another one of his novels that I have found very hard to put down. For those of you who have never heard of the condition, autophobia is a personality disorder. The term is used to describe three different conditions: 1) fear of being alone: 2) fear of being egotistical: 3) fear of oneself. The third is the rarest of these conditions. This explanation is taken from the book itself.
This is one great read, you are hooked from the very first chapter which starts off like a Stephen King novel slowly reeling you into a world you recognise as your own, but with one slight difference, where fear is the master and you know your going to be very afraid before this read is over. The story itself mostly centres around Martie Rhodes a very well balanced and happily married successful video games designer and her husband Dusty. Martie who has been helping her friend who for the past year and a half has been suffering from severe agrophobia. Then Martie herself begins to have irrational thoughts and feelings, a fear not of open spaces, but of herself, it starts off slowly from being afraid of her shadow one afternoon and builds too a terrifying crescendo of being afraid of her thoughts of violence, she can't bear too look at normal household objects anymore such as forks knives garden spades car keys etc, everything has become a potential weapon, she see's herself wanting too inflict pain with, too such a degree that if no-one was around she could turn one of these weapons upon herself. This is where the link with the supernatural ends, when you realise what is happening too cause Martie too feel this way, this is when the fear factor goes sky high and you suspect there is a very real possibility that this could be you. You will encounter the most vile and horrendous criminal mind that you may ever have come across before, capable of acts so despicable, forget Hanibal Lector he's a pussycat. This book is so edge of the seat,and convincingly written that don't be shocked if you begin having strange dreams yourself, as your mind can't switch off too the terrors that are imprinted by an author who knows how too write in a way that you are not just reading about Marti Rhodes and how she feels but you are actually experiencing her fear,along with your own FEAR.....so as the saying goes be afraid, be VERY afraid. No
t for the faint hearted.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading Dean Koontz’s novel FALSE MEMORY. To begin with it was quite a daunting prospect as it is a very long book, but it definitely rewards the commitment. Most of the 818 pages of the novel takes place over the space of three days – three days of hell for Dusty and Martie Rhodes, a respectable couple who find that their minds have been messed around with by a psychiatrist named Dr. Mark Ahriman. The novel is quite frightening in one particular way – the idea that psychiatrists can implant false memories into people. This in itself is not a fiction, as I believe that False Memory Syndrome has been proven in some cases. However, Koontz has written a very exciting novel around this scary concept. Definitely one to read.
This has to be one of the 'fattest' books I have read. The only reason I bought it, as oppose to a 'normal' sized book, is because of its author, Dean Koontz. I have read quite a few of his books now and find his writing style fantastic. In fact I find the style easier and more enjoyable to read than Stephen King who at times goes on far too much for my liking. I can deal with a little desciption but not pages at a time. Anyway back to reviewing this book - firstly, don't let the thickness of it put you off. Don't think that you don't have the time to read such a massive book and therefore should opt for something else. You will surprised at how fast you will get through it! It hardly took me any time - the story is truly captivating. The story mainly centres around a couple, Martie and Dusty Rhodes. Martie has a friend, Susan, who suffers from agoraphobia and being the kind and caring person that Martie is she encourages her friend to overcome her phobia. She accompanies her to therapy sessions twice a week, with much persuasion and hard work. The experience is very stressful for both of them but it has made their friendship stronger. It is so brilliantly written that you really do feel the stress of their situation when you begin the book...and you really begin to get involved with the characters. Completely out of the blue, one morning Martie has a horrific experience - she suddenly develops a fear of her shadow. At first it is very frightening and Martie finds this the worst and most scary experience of her life. However she is not to know that what the future holds for her is much worse.... After going to get help she is diagnosed with autophobia - one of the rarest phobias a person can suffer from ( a fear of oneself). She fears her future. As days go by her 'condition' worsens - she feels that although she loves her husband Dusty with all her heart, she might do something bad t
o him. She has images in her head of the potential damage she could cause him by using any implement lying around the house. She scares herself so much thinking about these things that she panicks and goes on a crazy run round the house emptying it of anything potentially dangerous. She really does start going crazy! Poor Dusty cannot understand what could have brought this condition on....he loves Martie so incredibly that he stands by her throughout her crazy episodes, desperate to understand what has caused it and how he can help her. As the story progresses and Dusty begins investigating into the cause of Martie's phobia, the story takes many little turns and twists. His own brother is brought into the picture - somehow he is involved in all this. Poor Susan, Martie's friend, suffers more than just agoraphobia! - and as Dusty gets closer to finding out what the cause is, he himself starts developing a psychological disorder. That is all I am going to tell you about the story...I feel that any more would ruin the experience for you. If you want to find out more about the story then read the other reviews that go into some depth on what happens. What I do want to say is that this truly is one of the best books that I have read and I recommend it to anyone who loves thrillers. This book is a must for Koontz and King fans! Priced at £5.99 when I bought it, you can purchase it online for £6.99 including P&P from either Blackwells (www.blackwell.co.uk) or Alphabetstreet (www.alphabetstreet.co.uk). ENJOY!
This was one of my first 'ops' here on 'dooyoo', and looking back after reading and rating some excellent ops, this really didn't make the grade, so I updated. The update failed to excite, either you, or me so it was time for a total re write! This book came with me to Tunisia in April (one of many ~ gimme a pool, the sun, an obliging waiter (oi, get ya mind outta the gutter you!), a good book, and I'm happy!) It was the reason I lost a day of my holiday to the words in front of me rather than the delights of Tunisia. I swear, I could not put this down. I started late one evening, or should I say, early one morning, after a night out, and finished it the following evening. The only time it was put down was to cool down in the pool. I grabbed my copy of this book when it hit the shelves at Tesco's. Well, for £3.84 I would have been a fool to pass it up wouldn't I? Especially since Koontz is one of my favourite authors and I hadn't read the book. Bargain. Anyway ... Weighing in with a whopping 818 pages, Dean continues to keep the pace at the panting position, never dropping the excitement level. He does what he does best and keeps the reader wanting more. As is often found in the novels by Koontz, we have the ever present male, female and canine characters. Well, I must admit, they do work, and I guess it gives the reader something to focus on. Another thing that I have noticed is the majority of Koontz' work have happy endings. This is not a problem either. I'm not complaining. Just stating a fact. The latest republished copies of Koontz' books are all following the same sort of cover design. I don't like them. They are kinda dull and hold no attraction for the reader. I liked the previous published editions. They were shiny and had small but incredibly detailed pictures representing the story line. If you are reading this Headline .... Change the covers,
they are boring! The blurb on the back cover is detailed. You know what to expect. And it delivers. And what does it deliver idodoyou? Well, let me tell you ..... Take a happily married couple, Martie and Dustie Rhodes. One agoraphobic friend, Susan Jagger. Autophobia - one of the rarest and most intriguing of phobias know to psychology, and a psychopathic villain, Dr Mark Ahriman, second to only Hannibal Lecter and sit back for a literary roller coaster. Martie Rhodes is a successful video games designer, and twice every week she takes her best but agoraphobic friend Susan Jagger to therapy sessions. All is well until one morning Martie suddenly and for no apparent reason suddenly experiences a fleeting, illogical fear of her own shadow. From here on in and after being diagnosed as suffering from autophobia, her life changes radically and the future looks nothing but dark and grim. Dustie Rhodes, the owner and main employee of his painting and decorating business has a brother Skeet, a known drug user, goes into work and finds his little brother on the top of a house ready to jump off and kill himself. He's being told to do it.But by what, and who? Sitting perched high up on the top of a house being faced with the possibility of seeing his brother go splat, his future looks nothing but dark and grim., especially when he begins to show signs of the autophobia himself. Susan Jagger, long time and best friend of Martie. An Agoraphobic divorcee who can't bear to be out side the confines of her house. Her twice weekly visits to therapy causing nothing but fear and mental torture play heavily on her mind, and with every trip, and no signs of the condition getting better, she can not help but feel that her future is nothing but dark and grim. Dr Mark Ahriman, is a leading psychiatrist, best selling author, well tanned and handsome. His outward appearance belies what this man is really about. Anybody that comes into con
tact with this man finds his or her lives looking nothing but dark and grim. To be blunt, he is a real b******d. Not a very nice man at all. As the title suggests, the book deals with memories through hypnotherapy. Whether or not the things that the Dean describes and writes about can be done or not in real life, his penmanship and style of writing makes you totally believe that the main characters have lived all that he described. Dean Koontz makes the reader believe anything is possible. If you are looking for page to page excitement? Read this? If you are looking for some wry humour? Read this? If you are a budding Koontz fan? Read this. This book is an excellent introduction into the world, and mind of this author. And if you are a diehard fan of this man's work? Read this. Disappointment is certainly not one of the emotions that will be evident when you close the final page. This book is a must. I must admit, when I finished this book, about 11 hours after I started it, I did give a sigh of relief. And one of contentment. It was nice to be free from the shackles of whatever it was keeping me glued to this book. It was nice to be able to leave it by the side and not experience the pull of the words as I went about my other holiday type business. Addiction is a nasty business. Dean Koontz has mastered the art. He manages to fill his pages full of the stuff. He uses words descriptive enough to hold your imagination under 'book arrest'. His words grab you by your jugular and keep hold, keep squeezing as you read further. Until you finish the book. It's only then he lets go. With another 17 Koontz novels in my pile of 'to reads' it's unlikely that False Memory will be read again until at least half of the pile has been shifted. But it's going on my shelf and not on the 'to ditch' pile so that's a good sign, yeah' Anyway, don't take my word for it. Get a
copy of this book. Read for yourself. Publisher: Headline Pages: 818 Price: R.R.P £6.99 (Paperback 2000) (Can be found cheaper) ISBN: 0 7472 5834 1 'IN THE REAL WORLD AS IN DREAMS, NOTHING IS QUITE WHAT IT SEEMS' The Book of Counted Sorrows
Another Koontz book read, and this was the longest by a good way. If you want a holiday read this is not it, but at 800 pages, this sure is value! False memory starts with 4-5 page long chapters. This is not that conducive to getting stuck into the book. I know a few others who have started this one, and stalled. However, take my word, False Memory is more than worth persevering. The idea is that at the start, you are introduced to the characters of the book a little at a time. Each chapter is devoted to first a couple, Dusty and Martie, then Dusty's brother Skeet, then a loony Doctor of psychology with a nasty style of patient care! Guess who the baddie of the book is? We soon learn that Dusty and his close ones share a linked loss of minutes of each of their days. Skeet has a nasty fall off a roof, after which he knows little. Then on the same day, Martie starts acting paranoid about being dangerous with anything sharp, which comes to hand. Meanwhile the Doctor, Ahriman, using Haiku (a form of Japanese poetry), is gaining control of Martie's best friend Susan’s mind. We soon learn just how much power he can exert, and then join Dusty and Martie on a journey to discover exactly by whom, how and why they are being used like this. Fans of Koontz will perhaps find the ending lacking in any hugely shocking supernatural or bizarre twist. However, it does have a series of huge twists for our friends, all of which completely change the previous perception o False Memory. I have to say that I could not work out how this was going to end at all, and was gripped finding out. Quite a hard read maybe, but worth the effort.
Don't get me wrong I do like Dean Koontz work. However, did thinks this was a very thick book about nothing scary. Other of Koontz books has left me with creepy skin. But this one was rather lame. We all know that people can be mind controlled. The Doctor was a bit weird. However, not creepy. The story is about a Husband and wife called Dusty and Martie. In addition, Martie's best friend Susan. Her friend is seeing a Doctor for her agoraphobia. Martie takes Susan to her sessions. In addition, the Doctor has mind control of Susan then Martie and then Dusty. The list seems to go on. The story seemed to ramble. And the reason for the doctor doing this all seemed rather lame to me. There was no real meat to get your teeth in to. My husband read it after me as was not impressed either. So other all I would not waste any time reading it.
I accidentally stumbled across this book in a service station, and was really pleased that I did! Normally, I would go straight for the Stephen King books (and I nearly did this time too!!) but reading the blurb on the back, I thought I'd give it a go. I'd never read any Dean Koontz books before, and I was really happy that I started with this one! It basically revolves around Martie, who is married to Dusty. Martie has a good friend, Susan, who is agoraphobic. She relies on Martie to take her to her therapy sessions with Dr.Ahriman. One day, Martie has an attack of some sort. She gets quite scared and agrees (along with Dusty) to go and see Dr. Ahriman abut what is happening to her. I don't want to say any more about the story, as it gets complex from here on in and has a twist which you may or may not have seen coming! I found the story to be really captivating, and could really connect with the characters; Martie, Dusty and Susan. I couldn't put the book down and read it in about 6 days. The way that Dean Koontz writes about people is very real and full of emotion, which is what I really enjoyed about this book because it really helps to link with the characters. This book is definatley worth reading. It makes you realise just how delicate people are. (Although maybe the American audience felt this more as they tend to see therapists more than us in the UK!) But it still worried me though!
The star of this epic is Martie Rhodes. She is a married, successful video games designer who takes her friend Susan to therapy sessions, to help her get over her agoraphobia. It has been a bonding experience for the two friends. One morning, Martie suddenly feels afraid of her own shadow. Other anxiety attacks come on and it is discovered that she is suffering from autophobia - a fear of oneself. Her life begins to radically change, although her husband is a rock for her. He starts to get close to the truth and discovers a horrifying secret. What is going on? Can they be saved or is it too late? With this novel, Koontz has another success on his hands. Like all his others, the characters are deep and constantly develop. The bad guy, whose identity we do learn rather quickly, is intriguing and as nasty a guy as you are likely to find in crime fiction. Koontz's prose is rich and evocative. Where else do you find chapters that begin with "The softly rustling fronds of a wind-stirred phoenix palm..."? In no other novel do I find words that I actually have to look up, as I have never seen them in fiction before. There are powerful similes and metaphors, making it different to most other thrillers. It is true to say that Koontz's flair for words has turned this into a long novel. He uses 600 pages where he could probably get away with around 350. There is a lot of time spent on stuff that is interesting. The plot is good and at most times, taut. The ending is predictable in some ways and totally unpredictable in others. There is a shocking surprise that I do not think anyone would have guessed until it hits them in the face. However, it is laborious and its length may well put off some fans. Nevertheless, it is a good read by Koontz but not one of his best titles. He is capable of more, but I would never call this a bad book.
Koontz's conveyance of Dusty, Martie and Skeet in this brilliant if somewhat disturbing tale is superb. Dr Ahriman and his antics are firstly kind, considerate and helpfull, it is only as the novel unwinds do you realise the fate of Susan, Eric and untold how many others lie in the hands of the phsycological master. It takes you on a rollercoaster of literacy skill and imagination. The book keeps you gripped from near the beginning to certainly the very end. I bought this book as a substitute, as the one I wanted was unavailable. I must say this was better than the one I originally wanted.