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Dean Koontz - The Husband
Dean Koontz's The Husband concerns landscape gardener Mitchell, who one day receives a phone call demanding a 2 million dollar ransom for his wife. Mitch, of course doesn't have that kind of money, but pulls out all the stops to save his wife from the kidnappers.
Koontz tries to create the impression of Mitch being a happy, small-time business man who is thrust into big-time crime. Unfortunately for Koontz though it all seems a little familiar. It seems recently that most of Koontz books follow a set pattern: a white Christian man's life is turned upside down by a faceless, utterly evil and ruthless adversary with threats to harm a (usually female) co-protagonsit. The idea is fairly unoriginal and uninspiring, but Koontz has managed to make a decent story out of it.
Throughout the book I could not help but feel disappointed. I was nagged by the concern, previously alluded to, that Koontz is attempting to define what good and evil is but he never says anything controversial. I felt that through this book Koontz has officially sold out to the 2.4 children, church going, gun-carrying brigade. His ideas of what is good and evil seems far too simplistic in the book, and this helped to spoil the whole thing for me.
The book itself has a few good moments. It is certainly thrilling and a page-turner, it is very fast paced. The reader is constantly left guessing about where the Evil One will take Mitch in the search for his wife. The book is quite well written and doesn't seem as amateurish as some of his books. There are some excellent chapters where Holly takes the role of narrator. It is in these chapters where I really felt Koontz's skills as a writer come to the fore.
However, many of the characters lacked depth. The ending to the book is somewhat predictable and a bit of a let down given the pace and build up that the rest of the book delivers.
It is impossible to love or hate the book, but don't expect any revelations because you will be disappointed. I would say it is only just worth a read.
Mitch Rafferty has a great life. He runs his own gardening business with a very old friend and has a wife who he absolutely adores. They have a nice little house in a nice little neighbourhood and are saving for a family and all the nice things that they want in their lives. He is happy....
.... until he gets a call on his mobile from a man claiming to have kidnapped his wife and who is also holding her for ransom. He wants $2 million in 3 days or his wife dies a painful and horrible death but Mitch has no idea how to get it.
Since reading Velocity by Dean Koontz I have got back into his style of writing and found his last few books to be very enjoyable. This is no exception and I immediately settled into the characters from the first chapter. There is no messing around with back story or scene setting and it is straight into the heart of the story from chapter one. His wife, Holly has been kidnapped before you are even introduced to her and this was very pleasing for me as in other stories Koontz can tend to waffle in my opinion.
Mitch's character is one I really liked as well. He shows such sincere love for his wife and this comes across as such a strong feeling that it made me feel immense sympathy for his situation. I knew he was a fictional character but my emotions really rose while reading this book and I found myself turning pages in genuine anticipation and hope that everything would turn out alright for them.
The kidnapper's intentions and identities were revealed in small snippets through phone calls and various things Mitch finds and this was just right. Their phone calls to Mitch and the capacity to which they could fulfil their intentions was scarily prominent in certain situations and a few times things were said or done that I was really not expecting, leaving me feeling upset or intrigued and even more involved.
I didn't find the tension quite as high as I had in The Good Guy, which was the last Koontz book I had read, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. The situations that were revealing themselves, chapter by chapter, were either high in action or high in entertainment value and I didn't come across any boring chapters. Similarly, the odd chapter was thrown in which focussed solely on Holly and her thoughts over what was happening to her. I like these chapters as it gives you a further insight into not only her but also the kidnappers and the way things were planned in their minds.
Koontz really did manage to surprise me in a few of the revelations as I read through. I usually have a vague idea of the who and why but this book was cleverly written and it made me think of scenarios that were completely off the track and on the opposite scale, lead me away from real motives and villains, making it a surprise when it is finally disclosed for certain areas.
I found the ending to be wrapped up a little too quickly and although you get an overall summary so you can draw your own conclusions, and this is pretty clear what they should be, I would have preferred a more detailed ending, actually spelling everything out for me, as I prefer my fiction to be of someone else's imagination, that's what I pay for after all. The ending was by no means a letdown though and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I just would have liked that little bit more.
Overall, this another thriller I have really enjoyed by Koontz and one I would recommend if you enjoy this genre. I got mine on Bookhopper (where it is now up for grabs again) but Amazon has copies for around the £4-5 mark if you want to buy new.
After recently reading THE GOOD GUY, I was inspired to initiate a swap on READITSWAPIT for this; one of the few Koontz novels I didn't already possess. What did I think of it? Well its ooookay but probably only for proper Dean.R.Koontz fans as its not good enough in my eyes to attract newer readers to this author in the future.
Mitch is a landscape gardener of considerable talent who recieves a phone call informing him that his wife has been kidnapped. In exchange for two million dollars, the kidnappers will let her go- to prove their seriousness, they gun down a guy walking his dog on the opposite side of the street. But theres a slight problem....
Mitch doesn't have two million dollars.....
Like much of Koontz's latest work, the plot is a simple one but, again like many of his recent novels, he still manages to throw in plenty of twists and turns to make things much more complicated than they at first appear. The book is a fair, decent read- not too challenging and not too long either- but somehow lacks the flow and comfortable prose that was present in THE GOOD GUY.
This is exactly the problem with Koontz; I'm a big, long-time fan, own most of his modern work and a few of his earlier out-of-print novels, but he can be a tad inconsistent. You can read something like ODD THOMAS or LIGHTNING and be blown away and caught up in the storyline and characters as they roar across the page fast enough to leave scorchmarks!! Then the next book, though good, fails to live up to the earlier promise and doesn't flow nearly as easily despite still being an excellent read and you can't help feeling a little let down. Don't get me wrong, even at his mediocre, Koontz is still better than most modern-day chiller writers and his turn-out is formiddable even for such a best-selling author (only King I think comes close in the same genre), but it is a shame sometimes that he doesn't publish a little less and that more of his books feel more polished.
Koontz is going through a kind of renaissance at the moment with just as many novels coming out as he did back when horror was one of the highest-selling genres. For awhile, mainstream fantasy and sci-fi was the genre that sold big numbers and Koontz had slowed down a tad, but now horror novels are coming back in fashion and though what Koontz writes (again like Stephen King) doesn't really fit that niche anymore (did it ever?) still this is where his books can be found in all good bookstores.
So back to THE HUSBAND....this is not as weighty as say FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE but neither is it as good as WATCHERS, ODD THOMAS or THE FACE; all some of my own personal favourites from recent years. That said, it still keeps you hooked and pleasantly entertained which essentially is all it really sets out to do. Just don't expect anything too outstanding!!!
Would YOU kill for love?
I'm finally beginning to catch up with the latest books by Dean Koontz, after a gap of about five years. It wasn't intentional, I just got caught up with new authors and thought I would save money by buying the paperbacks later on. Prior to reading The Husband, I had just read Velocity and found it very different to his earlier books. Actually I think his writing has taken a turn for the worse in some ways, though I don't expect others to agree with me. Reading this new one led me to think that Koontz is maybe taking some of his readers comments too far, or maybe he thinks that less is better.
~~ Welcome to the world of Craziness~~
Our hero, Mitchell Rafferty, better known as just Mitch, is quietly going about his business, planting flowers, when his life is turned upside down by a shattering phone call. Someone has kidnapped his wife and is demanding a ransom of £2million dollars. It's not enough to tell his tormentors that he's just a self-employed gardener without access to that kind of money. They seem to know that already and are not prepared to negotiate. Mitch has just sixty hours to come up with the money or his wife dies.
Like many of Koontz's plotlines this is not as simple as it would first appear. The action starts like a stop-watch and continues to pour on the pressure as Mitch is pulled in all kinds of directions. One of these is towards his brother, and his very dysfunctional family. That extra snippet of the plot is essential to show how Koontz has changed his writing with his last few books.
My initial thoughts were, this is very much like Velocity, the last book I'd recently read. Mitch seems a nice enough guy, very much in love with his wife, Holly and not the type of person that you'd expect to be mixed up in anything as serious as kidnapping and certainly not able to raise the ransom money. There's always something deeper about Koontz's characters though. Adversity brings out the best in them, even when they are forced to act against everything in their nature. From the very start the kidnappers are "handling" him, something he soon realises. But he's been "handled" before by people who are experts in this field, his own mother and father.
It might be more obvious in this book, but looking back on many of Koontz's earlier work, there is always a theme of manipulation even with his strongest characters. Mitch has to face some truths about himself if he is to get his wife back.
The other characters are interesting, but more on the fringes of the action, although there is some promising dialogue between Holly and one of the kidnappers that I would have liked to become more developed. The old Koontz would have done just that. He is much fairer than many male writers towards the role of women in his stories.
There are other hints towards his family, but less is, in this case, more.
~~ Plot Development.~~
This starts strong and the action continues to speed up, so the reader finds it hard to put down. There are plenty of twists to keep Mitch on his toes and the reader becomes very involved with the action. There are car chases, deadlines to meet, seemingly impossible situations and plenty of baddies to take some tumbles. Koontz weaves this in almost seamlessly...he just leaves one thing out. Humour. His stock in trade. However dark his books are, there is always room for humour, even if it's the dark kind.
He does start it with Mitch's gardening buddy, Iggy, another surfer type. This could have introduced some light relief as it did in a few of his Moonlight Bay novels, but it was almost as if Koontz had other things on his mind.
I mentioned some criticism of his books and the way they don't get directly to the point. I think some readers prefer a straight storyline rather than a build-up to the horror to come. Personally I prefer the latter, though his new style of writing does make for quick and easy reading.
~~ My Thoughts ~~
There is something very dark in the background of this book. I have been thinking for a while that many of his main male characters share some of his own life experiences, but he has never come as close to revealing his own personal feelings as with this book.
Anyone who has read quite a few of his books will see the shape of his own personality in his books, especially these later ones. They will also know about his rise from a background of poverty and bad parenting to become a self-made man. His parents were drunks who gave him no support, either financially or with any love and care. He put himself through school with odd jobs supporting him and in his early years by getting himself to school. This is part of his biography, though he never makes any disparaging remarks about his parents.
In "The Husband", Mitch comes from a background of very intelligent parents who have strange ideas about parenting. I can't say much more as it would spoil the readers own perceptions and I don't like doing that.
I couldn't let the comparison go by without a comment though. People who write tend to filter their writing through their own experiences. It's not a conscious thing but it happens far more than anyone would believe. I find it in my own writing, though I'm not much more than a dabbler.
If it helps Koontz get over his terrible childhood then I think he is doing the correct thing. It's a process of healing and that can't be bad. I would love to hear from anyone else who has read this book and picked up on background. Maybe I am looking too closely at it?
As to the title, well maybe Mitch is put into this position, you won't know unless you read it.
My copy is from my favourite 2nd hand charity shop. I only paid 80 pence for it. Since it all goes to a children's charity I think it's money well spent.
Otherwise it's available from Amazon and Ebay at bargain prices from 1p used (plus postage). Retail price is £6.99.
I've knocked off one star because although it may seem a long book to some of you, but at 453 pages in a small paperback, I found it lacked something I couldn't put my finger on. Perhaps I have become used to the long descriptive passages. At his best his prose can be almost poetic.
© Lisa Fuller. March 2008.
I've had my eye out for The Husband by Dean Koontz for a while now, and yesterday it dropped onto my doormat courtesy of Bookhopper.com. (the best things in life really are free.
I have to admit I was intrigued to read the book after hearing the general gist of the plot outline from another review.
Basically I was caught by the book by hearing of a gardener named Mitch Rafferty, who earns a five figure income running his own business. Mitch is expected to come up with 2 million dollars within sixty hours as a ransom for his wife.
Sounds straight forward enough doesn't it! This must be the general day to day happenings of kidnappers everywhere just randomly picking on targets for financial gain.
All of this happens in the first few pages of the book, and of course sets the trend for the whole of the book, all of 400 pages of it. The whole story is given sixty hours to unfold, but in fact doesn't take that long, with the book spanning no more than thirty six hours. Given this fact, a lot of detail goes into each minute of the day as it passes within the plot.
I'm not going to give the plot, ending etc away but will give you a quick rundown of challenges Mitch has to face just to get his wife back.
Of course the kidnappers would not be kidnappers unless they were extremely clever and could track Mitch on every step of his way. This includes a lot of leading questions, and doubt filling by the kidnappers towards Mitch so he really and truly doesn't know who to turn to or who to trust.
They have also very cleverly set Mitch up as the fall guy if anything were to go wrong. All leads from the police would go straight to Mitch and it would appear that he had killed his wife, therefore letting the true murderers off the hook.
Mitch finds himself dealing with circumstances he has only read about in books or watched on TV, from hijacking cars to speeding, even down to dealing with bodies.
This part of the plot almost makes me wonder where fantasy and the real life reality grasp ends. A plot can be taken in any way the author chooses, but sometimes it can go a little too far from normality, considering the life the character has been portrayed to have prior to all these events happening.
The main twists and turns, and there are many in this plot I assure you, are in fact very cleverly done. I was easily believing the connections being made for the majority of the book.
The book is mainly focused on Mitch although sometimes we are taken away to visit with his wife or even the kidnappers. I find when books switch from character to character all the time, I lose track of what is happening, and thankfully this doesn't have a chance to do that here.
Of course we come to an ending, and every book must have one, whether it's happy or sad. I really wasn't sure which outcome this book was going to have until we got there, but I have to admit the ending was let down by the rest of the book in a huge way. Nothing was explained properly as the aftermath, and it's left me wondering about all the little questions I want answers to.
With such a big build up to the climax, unfortunately it was an anti climax at the end.
In relation to other Dean koontz books, I have to admit to finding his latest books compare better than his older work. Some of his older work went on twists and turns in a way I could never keep up. The Husband, like his more recent work, is told in a much clearer manner, and makes following the plot very easy.
As I mentioned I only received this book yesterday and have finished it already. I'm not always a fast reader, but admittedly this book did grip me like only some can. Well worth the read if you're into thrillers.
Price - £5.99 (I got it free)
ISBN - 0-00-723183-0
Published - 2006
Please note this review is also posted on Ciao where I am a member.