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After the Last Race Hardcover – 1974
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Well, if you're going to write genre novels, you might
as well cover every genre. This is Koontz' first, and
really only, attempt at a straight hardboiled-style
thriller. A loose-knit gang of would-be thieves have a
plan to hold up a racetrack on a day when there will
be at least two million dollars on the premises.
Simple, easy to understand, with some nice plot twists
and excellent characterization. Koontz takes a
jaundiced look at the excesses of the seventies and
the excesses of thriller writers like Spillane all in
This is one of the longest novels Koontz wrote before
becoming a superstar, and one gets the feeling he was
testing his expansiveness legs, as it were.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work quite as well here as
it does in much longer books (e.g. Whispers or The
House of Thunder); the first fifty pages, especially,
are slow as molasses. Once it picks up, though, it
picks up fast.
This may well be the hardest Dean Koontz novel on the
planet to find. It's worth searching out, but the
prices will probably scare you more than most of his
later novels. ***
As others have pointed out, this book gets off to an extremely slow start. Koontz seems to be trying for a "Mission Impossible" format showing bits and pieces of a master plan that become apparent later in the story. It is a good idea but his writing in the first part of the book was not up to whatever it takes to keep up the reader's interest. This improved later in the story but then another flaw in my opinion becomes apparent: I did not especially like any of his characters. For that matter, there was no character that was extremely "bad", either.
There was one character that the reader might have rooted for in the beginning but when that character was willing to "shoot to kill" anybody that got in the way of money that he wanted to steal, I lost did not care whether that character survived to the end of the story or not.
One of the thieves was portrayed as being the "bad guy" of the story as he was planning on killing all of his fellow thieves in order to have all of the booty to himself. But the others were willing to kill guards, police, or even a civic-minded civilian to get this same money so his behavior was not much worse than the rest of the gang.
I would not recommend this book to anybody. I am kind of glad that I read it but that is for historical purposes only. (It is interesting to see the development of a writer.)