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Dean Koontz

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Headline Feature

Published : 2005

Copyright : Dean Koontz 2005

ISBN-10 : PB 0-00-719697-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-00-719697-5

Publisher's Write-Up

William Wiles is an easygoing thirty-something, a bartender who lives a quiet life alone until a serial killer singles him out - not to kill him, but to force him to decide who the next victim will be. On his SUV Billy finds the first note:

'If you don't take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blonde schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.'

Billy pays an informal visit to an acquaintance, Lanny Olson, who is a policeman, and who thinks the note is a prank. The schoolteacher dies. The next note reverses the choices: if Billy takes the note to the police, a mother of two young children will die. If he doesn't, an unmarried man who won't be much missed will die. Lanny has to take this note seriously but the deadline runs out before he can decide how to make his involvement official. Billy doesn't hear from him again because Lanny himself, unmarried, who will not be much missed, has become the next victim.

There will be more communications from the killer, more hideous choices, with ever tighter decision times, and with each choice Billy is drawn deeper into an accelerating nightmare, which steadily becomes more personal, more confrontational, until he is isolated, with no one to turn to and no one to rely on but himself. Finally he must risk everything to save the intended victims...

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (100206) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nigel
Rating 8/10
Dean Koontz's latest novel takes the usual run-of-the-mill serial killer story to a different level. Billy Wiles, a contemplative bartender, finds a note on his car giving him two options, both leading to a person's death. Much as anyone would Billy believes this is a practical joke and ignores the note. The next day he finds out from his friend Lanny, a local police officer, that indeed the note was real and through his inaction the first victim has been killed. Upon discovering a second note Billy starts down a road that takes him away from societies norms, where the only rules that apply are those of the twisted killer.

As Billy is manipulated by his unseen nemesis he finds himself in a situation that seems hopeless, until he sheds his own morality, as the killer intended. Billy is forced into actions he would never have thought possible but now offer the only course to possible salvation.
The pace of the story is perfect, the sub plots nicely entwined, as well as necessary, to the character that is Billy while the ending is done very well with the almost obligatory twist, although in this case better than most.

I would have given this book a higher score except for one early point. When Billy is involved with his second decision I think the choices made could have been different, thus ending the problem. This would obviously have ended the book so you can understand why he did what he did. Accept this minor point and you have an exceptional story that will keep you glued to the book from beginning to end.

Another thing I liked was the side story involving Billy's fiancée. This could have ended in a very cheesy fashion, common with many American feel good stories. However, it was handled very well and left your imagination to deal with the possibilities.

All-in-all another excellent thriller from one of the masters of the genre.
Nigel (10th February 2006)

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