RELENTLESS by Dean Koontz

RELENTLESS By Dean Koontz (Bantam Books)

Never read a book quite like RELENTLESS before. I mean, take a look at the opening sentence:

This is a thing I’ve learned:  Even with a gun to my head, I am capable of being convulsed with laughter.

Make no mistake.  This is a page turning thriller, of the unique and satisfying sort that Koontz publishes faithfully twice a year.  But there’s a twist, and a big one.   Lately, Koontz has been deviating from his intense third person thrillers like WATCHERS and, er,  INTENSITY  (two of my favorite Koontz thrillers) into first person thrillers with a lot of personality and off-beat humor.

RELENTLESS combines the two forms, and in a decidedly odd way that nonetheless works very well.

The narrator is a bestselling writer named “Cubby” Greenwich. Cubby has a tormentor.   No, this isn’t exactly Koontz’ take on Stephen King’s MISERY.   Instead of a crazy fan, Greenwich is tormented by a powerful critic named Shearman Waxx.   Waxx makes King’s crazed fan look like Snow White.  Waxx not only rips apart his  literary victims’ novels.  He rips apart his literary victims — literally.  Along with their families. And Greenwich has an ideal family in an ideal home in an ideal community on the California coast.  His wife is a best-selling children’s book writer.  His son is a six year old genius with a gift for gab.   And don’t forget the dog!  After all, this is a Koontz novel, and you’ve gotta have a dog!  (But that said, this is the most fun that Koontz has had with a dog since WATCHERS).

The novel veers from humor to relentless suspense as Greenwich struggles with this crazed critic, whose already destroyed other authors.   Like INTENSITY there’s a road trip to Oregon but that’s where the resemblance ends.  Let’s just say Koontz started as a science fiction writer, and there’s a startling social science fiction idea at the heart of this book which in the hands of Fredrik Pohl or Philip K. Dick might be considered satirical.  In the hands of Koontz, it turns very serious.

Through the book, Koontz invokes some greats of literature as a motif.  Although there’s plenty of spritely banter and your hard-earned recession dollar’s worth of entertainment in this book, at its core it’s an interesting examination of Koontz’s own place in literature.   It’s a fascinating and defiant stance.

Oh, and I loved the ending. With Koontz’ ample imagination, there’s a chance this might end up as a series. If so,  I’m sure going to read them all!

David Bischoff



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