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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Koontz formula at its best
Here's the typical Dean Koontz novel*: (1) an emotionally tortured, often widowed ex-military or ex-law enforcement guy (2) meets an equally emotionally damaged, often divorced or widowed woman (3) who together encounter Something Unusual (could be teleportation, alien encounters, time travel, or genetically engineered animals), and (4) in the course of...
Published on December 3, 1999 by Tung Yin

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Koontz's Most Political Book is Not for Everybody
I'm a major league fan of Dean Koontz, and have read all of his books that are currently in print. Some hardcore fans consider DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART to be one of Koontz's top books, perhaps even his best novel of all time. But I have mixed feelings about it.

Dean Koontz's politics have always leaned libertarian, and many of his books express the concern...
Published on January 28, 2007 by Thriller Lover


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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Koontz formula at its best, December 3, 1999
By 
Here's the typical Dean Koontz novel*: (1) an emotionally tortured, often widowed ex-military or ex-law enforcement guy (2) meets an equally emotionally damaged, often divorced or widowed woman (3) who together encounter Something Unusual (could be teleportation, alien encounters, time travel, or genetically engineered animals), and (4) in the course of understanding/unraveling the Something Unusual, heal each other.
The two best variations on this formula are "Watchers" and "Dark Rivers of the Heart." To give away the Something Unusual here would take away too much fun, but suffice it to say that there's a psychotic government (?) assassin running loose with a license to kill, more or less.
What distinguishes "Dark Rivers" is that the paranoid atmosphere Koontz generates is palpable, and exists even when you are reading chapters devoted to the assassin. Second, Koontz's writing really shines at parts; the first chapter -- go ahead, read it -- resonates with emotional depth; you really feel the loneliness and desperate hope of the hero. The sequence set in Utah with the assassin's ruminations on how to fit in with the Mormon police officers is unexpectedly (but no doubt intentionally) funny.
While the book is not as explicitly violent as some of his other works ("Phantoms" and "Hideaway" come to mind), there are some disturbingly nasty scenes, particularly near the conclusion, so readers with weak stomachs should proceed cautiously.
* Admittedly, the Moonlight Bay novels ("Fear Nothing" and "Seize the Night") have diverged a bit from this.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A river runs through it..., September 5, 2000
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
This is one of the few Koontz novels I've read that doesn't have some sort of strange monster (man-made or alien) in it. However, the suspense and drama does not lack for the absence of a monster, as Koontz ably portrays man as the ultimate evil to himself.
Spencer Grant has spent the better half of his lifetime erasing his past, eliminating the connections to the evil, the monster, who gave him life. The ghost of his father's past haunts him everywhere he goes, having left its mark on him in the form of a cicatricial scar that runs from his ear to his chin. Spencer has not found the life that he so desperately needs to find, although he has found himself to be good at many things in life.
In his search for the missing memories of the event that changed everything in his life, Spencer finds himself at the Red Door bar, and strikes up a conversation with Valerie Keane. Something between them just "clicks", and Spencer returns the next night to see her once more...and thus begins the incredible journey that brings Spencer face to face with his past, and his future.
Koontz' characters in Dark Rivers of the Heart are well-conceived and colorful. The plot never suffered throughout, as Koontz switches perspectives from Roy Miro, to Spencer, to Valerie, to Eve, and so on.
What is probably the scariest concept of this novel is that the property forfeiture laws that the secret agency makes use of are actually on the books and in effect today, perhaps not to the extent abused by Tom Summerton and the agency, but real nonetheless.
Fast-paced, engaging, and thrilling, though not the "chiller" novel one would expect from Koontz.
Peace Out.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This time, Koontz nails it, December 31, 2003
By 
Ethan Straffin (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
Okay, confession time: I've been a bit hard on Dean Koontz in some of my other reviews. The downside of being able to write good suspense is that your fans get their hopes up, and then you've got a lot of expectations to live up to.
With respect to _Dark Rivers of the Heart_, though, it's simply not an issue. This novel is dynamite (and a rare exception to the general rule that Koontz's best books tend to be found among the ones with the single-word titles). It's not only one of his most riveting "chase" novels, but also a cautionary tale about creeping fascism that sadly couldn't be more relevant -- even a decade after its release.
Some will assume that Koontz has concocted an exaggerated scenario in Chapter Twelve, in which an innocent local cop is framed by a psychotic federal agent. Surely the government can't confiscate your house and your bank accounts merely by implying that you're involved with drugs, without convicting you of (or even charging you with) a crime. Can it?
Yes. It can. It happens all the time. All you need to do is to make the wrong enemies (or own the wrong land, as millionaire Donald Scott found out just before he was shot to death in a bogus drug raid). Koontz has done his homework, and he has used the power of popular fiction to expose open secrets that are simply too scary for most of us -- whether we're liberal or conservative -- to think about. Bravo.
The Orlando Sentinel writes: "As it appears, George Orwell was ten years late, and it is left to Dean Koontz to add the finishing touches to an Orwellian future that is here and now. One of his best novels." While I'm not yet prepared to place Koontz in the same class as Orwell, there is obvious synchronicity. Hear them both now, or believe them both later.
Pheasants and dragons!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Koontz's Most Political Book is Not for Everybody, January 28, 2007
By 
Thriller Lover (Las Vegas, Nevada) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm a major league fan of Dean Koontz, and have read all of his books that are currently in print. Some hardcore fans consider DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART to be one of Koontz's top books, perhaps even his best novel of all time. But I have mixed feelings about it.

Dean Koontz's politics have always leaned libertarian, and many of his books express the concern that the US government is too large and invasive. DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART deals with a "shadow" government in the United States that trumps civil liberties and property rights to achieve societal goals.

This is an interesting concept, but I think Koontz is a little too heavy handed in demonizing the government in this book. The representatives of the shadow government are almost ridiculously evil and perverted. Roy Miro, the main villain in this novel, is an over-the-top sociopath, and he is only one of several psychopaths that the reader encounters in the story. Koontz has some interesting and original ideas in this novel, but he fails to make his points with any subtlety whatsoever.

Another flaw with DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART is that the characterization is paper-thin. The hero and heroine are decent but bland, and the romance between them instantaneously happens in a completely unbelievable manner. There is also a subplot involving an unjustly framed police officer, but Koontz spends almost no time on developing this character at all -- he has almost no personality. In short, the characters in this novel are just pawns that Koontz moves around to make his political points.

I also found the pace of this novel pretty slow and drawn out in the middle (there is a car chase through the desert that seems to go on forever). Koontz has an unfortunate tendency to be verbose, and I wish this book had been more aggressively edited. I found myself skipping over some of the excessive description and exposition.

Still, I can't deny that this book is highly original and deals with a lot of provocative ideas. This is a novel that will make you think, much like Orwell's 1984 or Huxley's Brave New World or some of Ayn Rand's work. If you're interested in that brand of political fiction, this novel has a lot to offer if you're patient, especially if your politics are of a libertarian nature. I don't regret reading it.

But if you're new to Koontz, my advice is to try one of his more conventional novels, such as PHANTOMS, WATCHERS, LIGHTNING, INTENSITY, or ODD THOMAS. Those novels are straightforward suspense novels without the heavy-handed political content, and will make you into a fan.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good conspiracy Book, October 10, 2007
By 
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
I must say I particularly liked the government conspiracy/abuse of authority theme & information about the Forfeiture laws. The villainous lovers, Roy & Eve were absolutely perfect & maybe my favorite villains created by Koontz. Eve Jammer on her rubber sheets doing her thing was particularly delightful. However, the development of characters overall seemed to lack & I would have liked Koontz to go more into some of the characters (The Lee's for example). The romantic coupling of the main characters seemed weak, lame, thrown together, & unrealistic. The whole circumstances of Valerie's reaction to Spencer following/stalking seemed very unrealistic. I just can't see a woman falling for this guy who basically was stalking her after meeting her once.

What REALLY drove me mad though, was the never ending car chase - it goes on for almost 30 pages! I thought it would never end! Did the editor not notice or am I the only person??? Then the part about using "GODZILLA" or govt. defense weapons from Star wars program was just too over the top IMO. I thought the ending was lame, however I liked how things ended for Roy & Eve.

I hate to give Koontz 3 stars & if this would have been a 300-400 page bk. I might rate it higher, however this bk. dragged & in the case, I think less mighta been more.

My advice: Don't let this be your 1st Koontz bk. unless you are into govt. conspiracy themes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spencer Grant is one sexy guy...., July 27, 2005
By 
M. I. "krushedvelvet" (Old Bridge, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
Dark Rivers of the Heart is my latest venture into the totally intriguing world of Dean Koontz. Im tellng you, this author has hooked me like few can. In DROTH, we are introduced to a man named Spencer. Spencer is a real loner, and due to some tragic circumstances in his past, he likes to keep it that way...but hes lonely, and he wants a chance at a real life. So when he meets up with a woman named valerie, a woman who really looks at him and seems to listen, he is head over heels in love within moments. Shortly after meeting Valerie, she goes missing....Spencer is frantic when he realizes that the woman is in major trouble and he knows that to involve himself will only bring the chaos in his direction, but he cant help himself...he decides the risk is worth it and jumps head first into more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

Dark Rivers of the Heart was without a doubt an entertaining read. Spencer was so unbelievably clever that I fell for him immmediately. I loved his sensitivity as well, but the mans mind is what really made me adore him...just brilliant. My problems with this book had a lot to do with the female lead. I had trouble connecting with her. I wanted her to be more appreciative of Spencer than I thought she was. I also felt that sometimes the story got a little muddled with too much tech talk. But for the most part it was, as always in DK world, a totally entertaining ride.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one, May 24, 2000
By 
N. Bernadsky "ski429" (Conway, AR United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Hmmm, reading through some of the reviews, I'm surprised at what people have had to say about Koontz and his writing. Sure, he's not for everybody, but he still has talent, and there are few writers that draw me in quite as completely as he does. Okay, enough of my ranting. I think Rivers is one of his better works. The characters achieve a greater depth than some in previous work, the flashbacks are well done, the government conspiracy is handled very well. Dean admits that the hacking in the book is not accurate, in a disclaimer at the end of the book, he says he shortened a lot of procedure for the sake of readability. Some of you are already complaining about the length...would you like him to add the detail back in so you have your accuracy and the rest of us end up bored silly? I would definitely recommend Dark Rivers to anyone who likes suspense or conspiracy stories. There's enough in here to keep you wondering for a while, and quite a few very unexpected surprises thrown in. (Just wait 'til you meet Godzilla!) While I wouldn't put Rivers in my top 5 Koontz novels of all time, it's pretty close, at least in the top 10.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I finally got to this, then wondered why I had waited so long, August 15, 2005
By 
My issue with Koontz is that his endings generally suck. I really enjoy the book, then want to tear my hair out after reading the last 30-40 pages. This book had a pretty unbelieveable "gee-whiz" aspect to the ending, but I found myself just kind of glossing over that and enjoying the closure that he brought for the characters.

Speaking of characters, I would have given this a 4 1/2 stars, if the rating was available, based on the wonderful blend of characters -- well written, wonderful interaction.

The downsides: the unbelieveable technical aspect of the ending, and the flood scene seemed to be excessively long, although well written from a descriptive standpoint. These two aspects were distracting enough to not get a 5 star from me.

Overally, one of Koontz's best, I think.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Suspenseful Story- Too Long, January 26, 2005
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
Dark Rivers of the Heart was a great story, very suspenseful. However, as much as I love Koontz, this story was way too long!

In this book you've got two lonely people who find each other, and find out they have similar pasts, each running away from something. They get tangled up in a mess and are now running for their lives against a master force out to destroy them. It's spooky, the characters are likeable, there's many great passages that provoke thought, you'll find yourself biting your nails until the end.

My main complaint about this book is that the story is nearly 600 pages and I feel Koontz could have summed it up in 350-400. The adventure is exciting, but at times it just drags out and you're ready for the end. Anyway, I still enjoyed the story & found it to be in line with a lot of Koontz's older works. Great book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without at doubt, my favorite Koontz book., March 4, 2003
This review is from: Dark Rivers of the Heart (Mass Market Paperback)
Some people make it a point to read the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy once a year. I read this.
Simply put, this is the best book I have ever read. It quickly drops you into the action, but leaves enough hidden to make you guess all the way through the book.
I loved the character development between the main character and his dog, as well of course the supporting cast.
I did think that one of the most interesting aspects of this book was in that the hero and his nemesis never did meet once through the entire book until the end. This is the type of thing that Koontz (and everyone else) traditionally prefers to stay away from, feeling that there needs to be interaction in order to build suspense.
I can't recommend this book enough, and would highly recommend giving it a look.
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Dark Rivers of the Heart
Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz (Mass Market Paperback - August 1, 2000)
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