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I've had a copy of Strangers by Dean Koontz for some years now and have recently read it again. It was written in 1990 so when Dean Koontz was still top of his game and knew how to put together a really intriguing story.
A group of strangers all start having strange happenings, from fear of the dark to fugues over seemingly random objects, severe sleep walking to a loss of enjoyment in life but one thing they all have in common is a strange obsession about the moon. Nothing else connects these people, they are all different ages and from different walks of life, except they all visited the Tranquility Motel two summers ago when there was a reported toxic waste spillage and the area was briefly quarantined. Now someone is sending them postcards and photographs that remind them of their stay there and they don't know why or who this is. The majority of the guests from two summers ago find themselves drawn back to the Tranquility Motel hoping to find answers to their problems.
I love books like this where the author takes a group of people who seem to have nothing in common and ties them all together, Dom's a writer who sleep walks badly, Ernie is an ex-marine who now has a childlike fear of the dark, Ginger is a doctor who has fugues over objects such as gloves and plugholes, Jorja is a waitress whose ex-husband has killed himself after ranting about the moon and now her daughter is doing the same, Jack's a professional thief who no longer gets a kick out of stealing, Brendan's a priest who's lost his faith but seems to have developed the power to heal and Sandy is the only one with a positive result when she finds she can forget her abusive childhood and enjoy life again. Some of the strangers aren't experiencing any symptoms and it becomes clear why when you read the book!
I remember the first time I read this book for at least the first half I had no clue what connected these people except their stay at the motel and it completely intrigued me what could have happened. The reality of the plot is less amazing than you think it's going to be and Koontz manages to wrap it all up with a blanket reason. Throw in some good friends who can help and some crazy enemies who want this kept quiet and it makes for an exciting read.
There are a few slow parts to the story when we're discovering the problems each of the people are having but Koontz takes his time and builds believeable and likeable characters that we can relate to and thankfully he steers away from bedroom scenes which he isn't very good at writing!
This is another classic Koontz when he could do no wrong and every book he wrote was full of mystery and intrigue and you couldn't possibly guess what's coming next. He doesn't write this style of book anymore and seems to prefer far fewer characters nowadays which is a shame because some of his best work has lots of characters for him to develop and introduce.
This is definitely one for Koontz fans, it's a return to his well known work and a good long read at around 700 pages so it should keep you occupied for a while. I personally found reading it the second time around I could remember bits but not all of the plot and I remembered quite easily how eager I was the first time around to know what was happening. If you've never read this and like Dean Koontz's early work this is not to be missed!
Available from Amazon for £5.99 new and 1p used from Amazon Marketplace. I advise you buy it new though as it's got so much in it you may find you want to read it again in the future like I have. Thoroughly recommended for a great, detailed read.
I have to confess that I sometimes have issues with Dean Koontz books; they either get gratuitously mushy, or the denounement proves to be a profound disappointment.
Strangers, on the other hand, was refeshingly different; the scenario: disparate people across the continental United States suffering, if that be the word, from tantalising glimpses - flashbacks, almost - of disturbing events. Someone who lapses into panic attacks when she sees black gloves; disturbing, claustrophobic dreams; a former Marine with an unconscionable, irrational fear of the dark and, what we have in total is 8 people who separately share the same strange dread, centred on the Tranquillity Motel, California, and to which they are all irresistibly drawn.
The book, however, is not just about the primal fears of a group of strangers, it is also to do with the shadowy military group that are an integral part of a vast conspiracy to hide the most momentous event in the history of human experience. This group will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth is never revealed, because of the shattering implications that would inevitably ensue. In short, the tome deals with the arrogance of power.
So, the strangers make their slow way to the Tranquillity, a place where opposing forces are destined to meet and literally determine the fate of humanity. We explore some of Koontz's main strengths with this novel: the indomitability of the human spirit, and the nature of directed and undirected evil. At both, and with this book, we see Koontz at his creative best. He has clearly taken pains to put together a great story populated by strong characters and a fine sense of atmosphere.
The struggle between the protagonists is epic, and of course only one side can win. Which will it be - and, what is the awful secret that hides within the silent walls of the Tranquillity Motel?
Strangers is probably one of my favourite Dean Koontz and I have read them all!!
Across America several people are starting to have weird dreams, or experience extreme terror over simple things. A writer finds he is missing time, but has typed pages of the same word, a surgeon has panic attacks when she sees black leather gloves, a motel keeper suddenly finds himself scared of the dark, a priest who no longer believes in God, and thief who can no longer steal. Why is this happening to them and what is is the cause?
Some begin to receive messages in the mail, a photo of a stranger, or a postcard from the Tranquillity Motel.
One by one they return to the Tranquillity Motel to find the answers they are seeking. Their memories from a year ago have been wiped, but are trying to return. Who wiped their memories and why?
The truth is more amazing than they ever expected.
This is a novel that slowly taunts the reader, the reader discovers the answers as the characters do, which is really gripping. Even though I have read this book numerous times I still find it enthralling. What's interesting is the way that each character reacts differently to the situation, as we would in real life. They are all initially strangers but band together quickly in order to discover the truth before someone or something stops them. The ending is fantastic, and the evil is closer to them than they think.
Great read, but allow plenty of time because you won't be able to out it down.