Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantom Books (August 1, 2000)
My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
When Spencer Grant, an ex-law enforcement officer, who’s living off the grid, tries to reacquaint with Valerie Keene, a waitress who dazzled him in a bar, he discovers she’s being hunted by government officials on a mission to kill her. From what he knows of her, they can’t possibly have good reason for wanting her dead. His quest to find her makes him the target of an assassin, who works for the shadow agency hunting Valerie and kills emotionally wounded or physically hindered individuals to show them mercy.
While tracking down Valerie with his trusty, skittish dog, Rocky, by his side, the internally and externally scarred Spencer must not only uncover a buried memory that haunts his dreams and is just a breath away but also avoid the most efficient eyes and ears on the planet. Finally reuntied, he and Valerie embark on the run of their lives in a nail-biting chase.
Frustrated and peeved, the assassin pulls out all the stops and drudges up Spencer’s worst nightmare to use as a snare, jerking various characters into a stomach-churning climax, leaving readers cringing and unsure as to who if any of them will survive.
I enjoyed the researched details, from the Eucalyptus Red Gum problem in L.A. to the high-tech surveillance to the computer hacking to the too-kind Mormon police. And I also appreciated Koontz’s skill in weaving the past and present and using dream sequences in a non-clumsy way. Any inserted backstory was gripping rather than weighty. And I love conspiracies so the shadow government thing worked for me. He made it believable and chilling.
I found this ride suspenseful and enjoyed it very much. The ending had some sweet justice, kind of, but left things a little messy. I wish Koontz had turned the tables and allowed the monster to kill the creator so to speak. If you’ve read the book, you know what I mean. A twist of irony would have been delicious and I was disappointed he didn’t pull the trigger. Also, Valerie makes a point to say she’ll have to kill the one who’s after her, but the story never had that confrontation. I was teased into believing it would enter into the novel at the end and was annoyed it didn’t.
All in all though, I enjoyed the story but just wish the ending had been a bit more tidy and satisfying. It could have been with better choices by Koontz.
If you want to read a well-researched book with round characters, a suspenseful plot with expertly interwoven threads of past and present, and a cool dog who finally gets his day to be a hero, check it out.