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Intensity - Dean Koontz

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Author: Dean Koontz / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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      30.12.2012 11:59
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      An Intense read

      Being a fan of Dean Koonts, Intensity is a book i read about 10 years ago, and it has always been one of my favourites, so i recently re-read it. Koontz himself is quite an intense writer who i feel delves in to the psychy of the characters in the books he writes. Intensity is based around two main characters. Chyna Shephard who is a 26 year old psychology student, who has had a brutal upbringing and has learned that she had to adapt and stand on her own to feet, relying purely on her own wits from a very early age. Edgler Vess is a sociopath whose actions can only be described as Intense, hence the title of the book. He lives his life wanting to experience more and more sensations in life and believes that this is what life is about. Edgler views himself as a higher being in some respects. His love of the darker side of life, and how he views humans and life itself, is both complex and fascinating. Chyna is staying at a friends house with her friends family, only to discover that they are to be the next victims of Edgler Vess. Edgler enjoys to kill his victims in many differing ways and relishes his actions. He views himself as a higher being in some respects, and his love of the darker side of life, and how he views humans and life itself is both complex and fascinating. Chyna's aim, after escaping the carnage at the house is to follow and catch Edgler, after she discovers a secret lies within his house that she must free. Chyna analyses Edgler and it is evident throughout the book that she is analysing his thought processess and movements in order to avoid capture herself. She is finally captured, but to disclose the rest of the story, including the fabulous twist near the end, would ruin a fabulous read which i have to say i couldn't put down on my first and second reading of the book. Dean Koonz is a master of intrigue and delving into the very nature of the characters he builds into his books. Intensity is as the title states.

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        08.12.2011 23:08
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        Excellent intense crime thriller about a sociopathic killer

        I have never read a Dean Koontz novel before, and this was given to me by a colleague at work, who swore she couldn't put it down and it lives up to its title. I was intrigued. Apparently, Koontz usually has a hint of the supernatural in his crime writing, which gave me good hope as I am a John Connolly fan. Intensity though was nothing like a Connolly novel, which has depth and pace. This book flew through all right, but the descriptions were so full that quite often a dozen pages had gone past and 11 of them would be a thought process to doing one single act. Koontz gives us a heroine, Chyna Shepherd, a University student with a troubled childhood. She goes to her friend Laura's house in the countryside, but finds that the family is the latest target of sociopath Edgler Vess, who lives and thrives on emotion and the senses, welcoming pain as much as pleasure, and taking quite a sick approach to life. The book is written largely from Chyna's perspective, but as it progresses, it flicks between her and Vess, always in the third person but with a definite shift in feeling and power depending on who he's writing for at the time. The location shifts in the book as Vess's murderous tendencies cause Chyna to be transported with him, torn between revenge and safety but ultimately following her instincts and doing what she thinks is right. Koontz certainly paints a stark picture of the characters, but this is not surprising as the total number of events is actually quite small. What's impressive is the sheer detail that he goes into, voicing every thought and every tiny action, calculations and emphasis thrown in, paragraphs upon paragraphs of psychology student Chyna digesting Vess's actions, paragraphs where Vess imagines thoughts and feelings and emotions in various potential future scenarios. It's very intense, and indeed intensity is explored within the novel itself. He does have a tendency to almost turn it into an exploration of the human psyche at times, almost as if he has treated it as a bit of a hobby, releasing his theories and thoughts about psychology and what makes the mind tick, showing that we never really know someone as well as we think we do. At times, it does drag a bit, as the descriptions become overly lengthy, but just when you feel like skimming and not really concentrating, something else would happen to drag you back in. There's also an excellent twist towards the end, one that completely caught me unawares until just before it happened, by which time it was far too late to say I'd guessed it before the reveal. However, the flow is so fast that you can't help get caught up in it all. My nails were bitten to the quick on a couple of occasions, and Koontz's writing style is so intense itself that you just can't help it. I'm certainly more inclined to pick another of his books up now, whereas beforehand I wouldn't have bothered at all, to be honest. I admired the writing style, and while I wouldn't necessarily go for another book quite so heavy in detail and intensity, I'd certainly relish exploring some of the his other texts. Recommended.

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          02.11.2009 12:19
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          heroine tracks down serial killer

          I have reviewed a number of Dean Koontz books previously as he is one of my favourite authors. I was off work sick last week and while resting in bed decided to re read Intensity. It is one of the best books he has written, and it is very difficult to put down once started as it lives up to the title. From the first chapter you are drawn into the troubled personality of Chyna Shepherd, a young woman who has suffered more than most, raised by an abusive mother and her numerous boyfriends, Chyna has learnt to be a survivor. She has struggled to become close to people, but when she starts college she is drawn to the vivacious Laura who embraces life and brings joy and hope into Chyna's life. Then on a weekend visit to Laura's family, Chyna is disturbed in the night by suspicious noises, her survival skills kick in, and while hiding she realises than something terrible has/is happening to Laura's family. Her parents have been murdered, but Laura herself has been raped but still alive. Evading the killer, Chyna creeps around her friend's house to find an escape or a weapon, but to no avail. When the killer returns in motor home to take her friend away, she hides aboard in the hope of helping her friend. Later when the killer stops for petrol, she overhears him talking about a young girl who is holding at his house. Drawn back to him, in the hope of saving Ariel, she gives chase. The killer is fascinated by Chyna and her efforts to rescue Ariel, and therefore after he captures her keeps are alive in order to find out about her. The rest of the book is the ongoing battle between Chyna and the killer, and Chyna and her demons which she must conquer in order to save herself and Ariel. There are numerous twists and turns in this book, which keep you surprised and since it is set within a short time span (48hours max) you really get the sense of time ticking away. The main character Chyna is well written, and the killer is also intriguing and complex. Well worth reading.

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            17.09.2008 14:37
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            Intense!

            This book is penned by Dean Koontz, one of my favourite authors. In my opinion he is one of the best writers of on the edge of your seat suspense thrillers. This is the story of Chyna Shepard, a girl who is staying at her friends house. In the middle of the night Chyna awakens to her friend Lauras family being murdered by a serial killer who has broken in. His name is Edgler Vess. Chyna runs to Lauras bedroom and finds her tied up. She promises to get help but before she can Vess kills Laura and takes her to his mobile home. Chyna sees this and gets on the mobile home and Vess drives off before Chyna can escape. Chyna hides in a back room and Vess doesnt know she is there. When they get to a service station she sneaks off and Vess goes inside and kills the workers there but before he does he boasts that he has a girl called Arial held at his home. Chyna hears this and decides that she has to rescue her. Vess drives off so Chyna gets one of the workers cars and gives chase. She deliberately crashes the car in the middle of the road and sneaks back into the mobile home when Vess gets out to investigate. They go to Vess's home and eventually she meets Arial. I wont say anything else about this book only to say that it has twists and will grip you up until the end. This was made into a mini series which translated well to the screen but I think it is best when you read as you can picture it in your head. Edgler Vess is one of Koontz's most disturbed characters and you will enjoy reading this.

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              20.11.2006 19:12
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              Read the review...

              The title is pretty much self-explanatory. This book defies all logic and reasoning! In this day and age of slasher movies and extremely pitiful thrillers, Intensity is a psychological thriller that definitely delivers! I still shudder (with both, terror and delight) at the very thought of this book! Intelligent plot and characters, intriguing choice of settings, mysterious, chilling (I sat up till dawn clutching my stuffed bear!) . . . there is nothing bad anyone can say about this book. You MUST get the Audiotape also. I've watched the little made-for TV movie (the fact that I even turned the tube on says a lot) and read the book over 13 times. I would put this book, and its hauntingly memorable characters, up there with Agent Starling and Hannibal Lecture in "Silence of the Lambs" and Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, and Morgan Freeman in "Seven," or Spacey in "The Usual Suspects" and that's saying a hell of a lot as I worship these movies for (above all) the excellent characterization! (Just for this book I'll have run on sentences just to express my enthusiasm!) When Edglar Vess is finally revealed to Chyna he is not a four-eyed demon; he is not a monster… but worse… just a man! That is the most terrifying part of all. This is where Koontz shines. He knows the dark side of humanity and he loves to just poke about in the dark recesses and *bing* switch on that damn Kolchak: The Night Stalker thousand watt bulb. Koontz' strong points are that, while looking for said creature (human or no), he brilliantly and delightfully distracts us from the horror with his beautiful literary pen. Some of his metaphors and allegories are so beautifully constructed, so gosh-darned fluid that I find myself near tears during even the most horrific descriptions and depictions. Intensity really touches all of the senses. I laughed. I was shocked, horrified, outraged, indignant, annoyed, bewildered, amused (yes, amused!), and by the end… slackjawed and goggle-eyed with glee that my cynical hardened heart can be still be terrified! Enough! The story evolves around 2 characters, our strong female protagonist (go Koontz! I love your women!) named Chyna Shephard, and the skeezy, narcissistic and utterly demented (but not psychotic!) villain, Edgelar Forman Vess. Per Edgelar himself, if you use letters from his power name you can form such words as DEMON, FORGE OF RAGE, and SEMEN…. Like I said, narcissist. In stark comparison to our Taoist-on-crack villainous scoundrel, Chyna is as passive and gentle as a summer breeze… is until he F*CKS with her best friend and goes on a rampant, savage killing spree the likes which makes the violence in a Clockwork Orange look like mere mischief. Now our fair, dainty maiden reaches down inside to places long locked up (and with good reason) to pull and utilize the righteous anger that seethes within. You see, the gentle Chyna has a dark, gruesome past filled with years of emotional and psychological abuse that has left her fragile psyche all but shattered. She cannot tolerate violence in any capacity. She's pretty much a recluse, fearing people and society, afraid that any minute the Mickey Mouse veneer and Pink Elephants on Parade World of Disney that's crammed down our American throats will be snatched away to reveal the awful Tim Burton world of Weird that lurks inside! And with good reason apparently. Anyway, she doesn't quite go all Xena Warrior Princess on Edgelar's ass (too bad, he really did need the @ss-kicking). But, in typical Koontz fashion, there is a lot of soul-searching, heart wrenching revelations and, ultimately, redemption… aww. It only took chapter after chapter of knife-gutting, shotgun up-the-bum shooting, child kidnapping, and ammonia-in-a-dog's eye to get to it… but hey, *shrug* that's why you either love him or hate him! Nuff said! Go read the friggin' book already! It's a masterpiece. It's an emotional journey I won't soon forget. *Still cowering under my momma's bed*

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                04.10.2006 12:18
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                Fast paced thriller that does not always stay on track

                The reviews for this novel have been universally positive so I seem a bit bemused as to why I found this book significantly worse than others. The set up is the usual Koontz fare - a woman stays over with a friend only to witness a hideous crime. She seeks out the killer and plans to make him pay for what he has done. Unlike 'Odd Thomas' and 'Blood Moon' Koontz downplays the supernatural in this novel. Instead we are left with the reality of evil in the world caused by a sick but very human person. The style of 'Intensity' is one of its unique features. Almost in real time it takes us through 1 or 2 days of an action packed road trip where our hero aims to dispatch the killer. The chapters are split between the point of view of the victim and the killer. We go into great depth as to the reasons why they are taking their particular actions. It is this that proves the major flaw for me. I for one do not need to read 50 pages on how someone escapes from a chair. The book feels like a linear teen slasher movie not deviating at all from the central premise. For people who get swept up in the ride I can see how the book could truly be intense. I however found it overly descriptive, linear and too easy to guess any potential 'twists'. For a superior Koontz read try 'Odd Thomas'

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                  25.04.2003 06:33
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                  Chyna Shepherd is a survivor. She lived through abuse as a child at the hands of her both her mother and Mums collection of boyfriends. When we meet her at the beginning of this book she is a young adult studying Psychotherapy at University and only has one true friend in the world, Laura Templeton. Shes travelling with Laura to her parents vineyard to spend the four-day Spring Break with them. What should be an idyllic rest from classes turns into a living nightmare for poor Chyna. In the middle of the first night there, the house is broken into and Lauras parents are slaughtered. Chyna finds Laura bound and shackled on her bed and vows to save her life, however the killer is still in the house. Hiding in fear of her life Chyna hears screams coming from Lauras room – and then silence. Managing to stay hidden she watches the killer, Edgler Vess carry her only friend down the stairs and out of the house. Not knowing that Laura is already dead she follows. Outside is a motor home and Chyna has no choice but to watch helplessly as Vess takes Laura inside. Chyna, having promised Laura that she would save her, follows. Remaining undetected in the motor homes bedroom she finally discovers Laura is dead. But now its too late, they are already on the move and shes trapped with a vicious killer. Chyna discovers that Laura isnt the only "victim" in what appears to be a mobile mortuary and her heart hardens, determined that she will at the least get the opportunity to raise the alarm and failing that will dispose of Vess herself. A chance discovery at a service station merely reinforces these thoughts in her head; she learns that Vess has a captive back at his house. Having suffered the loss of the only person in the world she loved shes more determined than ever that no one else will suffer at the killers hands. Thats as far as Im going to go with the story line for this fast paced book. I point out that this is a fast moving story as I have found with a lot of Mr Koontzs novels that they can tend to be very slow to start and therefore sometimes a little hard to get into. Sometimes with his writing, the story doesnt instantly jump out and grab me. Not so with Intensity. The tale that is woven here I found to be an instant attention grabber and I was totally hooked by the end of the first chapter. The story is set within a single twenty-four hour period of Chyna Shepherds life and is interspersed with flashbacks from her childhood. Through these we get a better understanding of exactly what makes her tick and a much better grasp of why she chooses to do what she does, where, lets face it, most of us would turn tail and run for the hills! Her character is extremely well written and formed, by the end of the book I had a very clear picture in my mind of what she looks like and I think that is the mark of a good writer; Mr Koontz certainly puts plenty of flesh on her bones. Further to that and I believe the crux of why this story works so well, the character of Edgler Vess is superbly crafted. This particular figment of the authors imagination managed to scare the pants off me! In this case I think a little too much flesh was put on his bare bones as he truely is a good example of "evil" and a very believable character. Vess is a sociopath and therefore shows no signs on the outside of exactly what he is or how his thought processes are completely skewed from how you or I would think. Vess thinks in sensation only; through touch, taste, sight etc. Chynas interactions with him make for compulsive reading as she tries to psychoanalyse him using knowledge she has gained through her degree course. Vess you see just doesnt fit into any "neat" little box! This is more than a tale about a mass murderer and one womans attempt to stop him once and for all. Its also a well-written insight into the human mind and although extreme in this case, highlights choices all of us have to make every day and how we make those decisions. Granted not many of us are ever faced with life or death choices; but what if we were? What would you do if in the same position as Chyna Shepherd? Yes its a fantastic story but its also one that makes you think. That to me is the mark of a well-crafted tale. Whilst reading this book I did have a sense of dread that had nothing to do with the unfolding story. I have tended to find in the past that whilst Dean Koontz can tell a very good story, his endings do tend to fall a little flat. He really does seem to struggle with how to finish whatever tale he is telling. Imagine then my surprise when not only does this particular book finish in spectacular style he has also woven a very unexpected twist into the climax of the tale. I certainly didnt guess it and Im not sure anyone else would either. In conclusion all I can say is, highly recommended! ISBN number 0-7472-4840-0

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                    17.12.2002 04:02
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                    I had never read and Dean Koontz novels until last year, when I was on a long stretch off from work (ahhhh you lucky ducky I hear you say), but it wasn't a terribly nice time as you might think, and books at this point in my life, became my saviour so to speak. I had never been an avid reader before this time, and would only pick up a book I'd heard people raving about, but this all changed when a friend of mine came over with a stack of books from Shakespeare to Cornwell, and I was hooked from that moment on. Intensity was one of the first books I picked (I think by reading the back cover and thinking "yeah this won't be too taxing") and from the first page onwards I couldn't put it down. The main character (or should i call her heroine), is a woman in her mid twenties by the name of Chyna Shepherd (has a ring don't you think). Chyna and her best friend Laura, are going to stay with Laura's parents for a short break, they reminisce on the way there about how they became friends and this gives you an insight into the closeness of their relationship (Laura is the only person Chyna has ever trusted in her life). They get to the Templeton home and Chyna is made to feel like part of the family. Unusual for her as she has never experienced a "normal" family life, with an abusive mother and a deraged step father it a wonder she has grown up to be so well adjusted (well there you go the American Dream). After dinner with the family is over they all retire to their own rooms, and Chyna is sure she hears noises, so she goes to investigate and finds the bodies of the Templeton family (now im not spoiling this for you as it states quite clearly on the back of the book this happens). Chyna sees the "killer" take the body of Laura to his motorhome and decides she can't let him get away and somehow manages to sneak into the motor home and follow him to his destination , wherever that may be. The rest of the book focuses on Chyna trying to outwit this "killer", and basically do the right thing. Now I'm not going to add anymore about the main story as its a great book and to give anymore away would completely spoil it for those of you who decide to read it. Now although Koontz isn't my favourite fiction author, and a minority of his books has left me cold, for example "Icebound" (cold, Icebound geddit?? awww nevermind), but certainly not this one. Koontz's writing style leaves the reader gripped from the start of the book, until the mindblowing end. Intensity had my heart pounding at times, as Koontz brings in twists and turns when you're least expecting them. It is also the type of book, that if you can manage to drag yourself away from it, you can pick up a few days later and get right back into the plot without too much trouble. The script can be frustrating at times, as Chyna faces some of the worst scenarios one could possibly imagine yet she still can think logically, and I find it hard to believe that someone could jump into the back of a motor home knowing her best friends dead body is in there, but this is Koontz. There are also some supernatural elements to the book, which are not as apparent as in some of his other work, such as "One Door Away From Heaven" (which is another fine read), but they are there, all I will say is look out for the coastal elk. The book has a fantastic ending too (but again I don't want to spoil your read), and when you discover what the "killer" does for a living you may be more than a little surprised (or maybe not). All in all, and excellent read, easy on the eye, and doesn't take much brainpower. This is one of the very first Dean Koontz novel's I read, and I'm glad I did, because all in all I've found the majority of his books to be ri veting and unputdownable, with the exception of a minority. So if you've never read Koontz before I'd suggest this as a starting point.

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                      23.07.2001 18:03
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                      Dean Koontz is best of the current horror writers in my opinion. He is so good at keeping things in suspense and creating realistic scenes which transport you there (in my head anyway!) The plot in this book revolves around two characters. The 'victim' Chyna Shepherd and Edgar Vess the killer. Chyna Shepherd,a young psychology studentwho witnesses the savage murder of her friend and family whilst visiting them at a their home. The pace is just right with it getting more fast after the first murders. You get into the mind of Chyna in this book sharing her pain and seeing how strong willed and brave she is. Edgar Vess is the killer and is a strong character with a handsome face hiding his chilling crimes. Chyna Shepherd witnesses early on in the pursuit whilst in the back of the van the intentions of him, we get more of an understanding of him through her eyes. As Chyna is a psychology student we get a heightened sense of what she makes of him. The killer seems to come across as less human and more demon. The murders in this book are pretty gruesome and very gorey at times. This book also has a clever twist in the end,and only then you understand why the police are not coming to stop Edger Vess Its a spinechilling nailbiting book. I actually couldn't put it down and read it all in one day. The characters are realistic unlike in some horror/thriller books where the characters are very two-dimensional. I'd recommend this book to all, it is a very entertaining read. The end is fantastic. p.s If you are reading this today (monday 23/7/01) then the film is on tonight on channel 5. Check it out!

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                      21.07.2001 01:39
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                      "Chyna Shepherd untouched and alive" This is the prayer repeatedly chanted by a brave young woman throughout most of her life. Chyna Shepherd was brought up by her alcoholic and drug addicted mother, along with the society dropouts that her mum often befriended. She had a very traumatic childhood, full of torture from both her mother and her psychotic boyfriends. After leaving her mother and going off to university, she becomes best friends with Laura Templeton, and she is the only person that Chyna has ever trusted enough to reveal some of her childhood to. Laura takes her to Napa Valley, California, to meet her family and stay for the holidays. After talking with them for only a few hours, for the first time in her life she feels like part of a family, and is truly happy. This happiness however is short lived, and turns into a living nightmare when she hears some strange sounds in the midddle of the night. She moves stealthily round the house inspecting all the rooms, and it`s not long before she comes accross Laura`s dead parents, who have been murdered in their bedroom. The killer is still in the house, and she must avoid him at all costs. He is a homicidal sociopath who has murdered not only Laura`s parents, but Laura`s brother and his wife. Has he murdered Laura as well? From this point on, things carry on in a dramatic downward spiral for Chyna. She ends up hidden in the back of a motorhome belonging to Edgler Vess, which is like a mobile morgue. For reasons that you`ll only find out by reading the book, she has to remain undetected in the motorhome until Vess reaches his final destination. On arrival she has many dangerous feats to overcome and her aim is to just get out alive. This soon changes when she realises she is not the only one intended to be Vess`s next victim. Who will he kill? How will he kill them? Will anybody get out of this story alive? < br> Sorry, but I`m not telling. This novel is very fast paced, with so many unpredictable things happening that you don`t know what`s coming next. Cleverly written, so that just when you think you`ve figured out the ending, it changes, then changes again. Another brilliant horror by Koontz that I highly recommend. The title of this book is absolutely spot on, it really is an intense read, and I absolutely loved it. Most books by Dean Koontz are around the same price from most book stores, between £5 and £6, but I`m great at finding bargains so I`ve never paid more than about £1 for any of his books.

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                        25.06.2001 03:53
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                        This for me is by far the best Koontz read since the heady days of Lightning and Midnight.It has all the nerve twisting you need and cracking pace from page one to the final showdown after an intense stunning frantic 500 pages. The author is by far the best of the current horror writers at building the tempo and suspense without getting bogged down. Stephen King and others like to give you too much character background and plot which tends to dampen the said pace and tension. The brief backbone of this gripping tale centers around two characters. One is Laura Templeton,a young bronzed Californian girl who witnesses the savage murder of her friend and family whilst holidying in their ranch in the hills. After the traumatic killing the girl makes a brave and life changing decision to hideaway in the killers mobile home to make sure that she cant commit this atrocity ever again. Edgar Vess is the killer and other main player in the book from start to finish as the two pit their wits, seen and unseen. She witnesses early on in the pursuit whilst closeted in the back of the metallic van the evil that runs through the veins of this cold-blooded killer. This strengthens her will more and more to stop the serial killer as the two race across America from coast to coast. The reasons why she didn’t call the police early on are neatly explained and of course ad to the tease of this excellent book the unfolds like. Just as plot-busting mobile phones (He’s behind you) are not allowed in modern day Hollywood, police very rarely featurein Koontz books. This book also has a clever twist in that department and not until the end do you understand why the authorities are not coming to stop the murdering Edgler Vess, and why he had been allowed to continue the cull of Americans so young and old. It’s a roller coaster all the way through and you will miss a breath for every heart beat as the static electricity in the writing builds and builds. A lot of Koontz books stay with two factions who are pitted against each other early on. In this case there are only two enemies and the author does brilliantly to keep up the action. Get it now if you want to be taken to the edge, its an ideal taste of Americas biggest selling horror suspense writer.

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                          14.08.2000 21:40
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                          When Chyna finds her friend bound and gagged and her friends family callously slaughtered for no apparent reason while she was staying with them, she takes refuge in a the killers motor home planning to attempt to free her friend. But her friend is already dead and she is now trapped in this killers motor home and when she has a chance to escape she takes it at a roadside stop while the killer decides to play some games with the two clerks at the store, she learns that he has a girl locked up at his home so she follows the killer and gets back into his van. The suspense in this book is superb and it builds and builds and just when you think it cannot get much more it then carries on building. Koontz demonstrates the skill of his story telling by focussing on these two main characters and really evolving their characters. These people really do come to life and this book cannot be put down. I was inspired to buy it after I saw part of the film and it was definitely worth it. The end when it finally gets there is brilliant - dragging the suspense out right to the very end.

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