Friday, May 27, 2005
Anyone who has a back-list of must-reads for the summer is invited to submit to Betsy or me the titles they think will be of greatest interest to readers of this blog. An early candidate for my list, though perhaps one that will see an early exit, as well: Dean Koontz' new horror/thriller, Velocity. Here are some salient excerpts from a N.Y. Times review by Janet Maslin:
The novel's resident good guy, Billy Wiles, is bedeviled by a serial killer who tries to make Billy complicit in his violence. He forces Billy to pick the victims. And he sends Billy such high-concept threatening letters that one of them is conveniently reprinted on the book's back cover. . . . [T]his book wears its conscience on its sleeve even as it puts Billy on the receiving end of messages like this: "If you don't go to the police and get them involved, I will kill an unmarried man who won't much be missed by the world. If you do go to the police, I will kill a young mother of two. . . . "
Mr. Koontz also has blunt points to make. He underscores Billy's devotion to Barbara, his fiancée, who has been in a coma for four years, though she continues to say cryptic, beautiful things. (These are eventually explained.) Despite this sign of life, Barbara's doctor suffers a "bioethics infection" that makes him want to remove Barbara's feeding tube. "Four years is such a long time," says the doctor. "Death is longer," says steadfast Billy. Mr. Koontz also condemns scientists who work on cloning, genetic engineering and stem cell research. ("The smarter they are, the dumber they get.") He has Billy flirt with drug use to show how it can be dangerous to the soul. "Pain is a gift," he writes, after Billy discovers Vicodin. "Humanity, without pain, would know neither fear nor pity. Without fear, there could be no humility, and every man would be a monster."
Koontz has a reputation for writing thrillers with a difference. Is he up to speed with Velocity? [tm]