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Breathless Hardcover – November 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Koontz (Relentless) delivers a hard-to-classify stand-alone set near the Rocky Mountains that will appeal more to fans of his Odd Thomas books than those partial to his Hitchcockian thrillers. While out for a walk, reclusive Grady Adams and his wolfhound, Merlin, spot two white furry animals as large as midsize dogs and as quick and limber as cats that aren't like anything previously known to science. The sudden arrival of these mysterious creatures out of the blue appears to be linked to several other baffling phenomena. Meanwhile, a sadist, Henry Rouvroy, tracks down his identical twin, James, and kills him and James's wife in order to assume his brother's identity. After the murders, Rouvroy is unsettled by evidence that the dead have not stayed dead. Koontz's cryptic dedication to Aesop (twenty-six centuries late and with apologies for the length) may hold the key to what's going on, but readers are likely to find the moral of this peculiar tale, if there is one, obscure. (Dec.)
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The endearing golden retriever heroine of The Darkest Evening of the Year (2007) and the real-life golden retriever star of A Big Little Life (2009) acquire a male peer in Koontz’s new novel, an Irish wolfhound named Merlin despite the fact that, unlike his female colleagues, he does nothing magical. He’s also not one of the protagonists, though he’s the faithful friend of four of them: his master, his vet, and two creatures entirely new under the sun, who, adorably child-sized, big-eyed, and furry, seem at first closer akin to him than to humans but turn out to be genetically indistinguishable from Homo sapiens. The pair, dubbed Puzzle and Riddle by Merlin’s people, arrive simultaneously with thousands more pairs of their kind all over the globe—and just in time. For, in Breathless, as in many previous Koontz novels, this old world’s in a helluva fix. But this time, Puzzle, Riddle, and their kin may set things right. At any rate, the creatures’ arrival immediately triggers one outstandingly good development: an angry drunk sobers up and lightens up enough to seek out the parents he’s long been estranged from; en route, he thwarts a heinous criminal. Furthermore, because the newcomers are considerably more than they initially seem, they effect more good, including their own escape from Department of Homeland Security detention. A first-rate first-alien-encounter yarn. --Ray Olson
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"Breathless" starts out with great possibilities and again stirred in me hope of going back to the "old Dean Koontz" style of writing where he spends considerable time making "masterpieces" of fiction. Unfortunately, my hope was dashed too soon as it too ended up reading not only as a rush job to finish it but also as an author that loses his idea so just grabs at anything to complete the novel.
I can't help but feel Mr. Koontz has spread himself so thin with his comic books that he can no longer devote the time it takes to write good novels. It is interesting that his websites state fans are praising his new books, though they are not listed. Perhaps he should read the reviews here and at other websites not paid for by him if he wishes to have honest opinions from those who have been providing him with a living through purchasing his books.
I no longer will purchase his hard bound books as his novels no longer rate spending that kind of money. From now on I will wait for the paperbook version which is cheaper. However if his writing continues to deteriorate, then I will actually wait for them to appear in thrift stores for 50 cents each, which is closer to what I would have valued both "Frankenstein #3" and "Breathless" at, well maybe a dollar.
A hundred more pages or so might've made it better. If nothing more, he could've tied up some loose ends (for example, the lawyer/new client? point of including them at all!?), answered some questions --if you read the book you know what I mean here, there are several left unanswered and not in a "it leaves you to draw your own conclusion" kind of way, but more a "WTF?! Why did you waste time with this?" fashion-- and provided a better tie-in for the characters who's storyline intertwined.
It felt like it just ended. Bam, done. And that's disappointing because he could have made this a really endearing story along the lines of From the Corner of His Eye.
I'm still a fan. And although I can't yet bring myself to read any of the Odd series, I'm sure I'll be reading Relentless: A Novel as soon as my pre-order paperback arrives.
But right when you start to get really excited about the story, it seems to come to an abrupt and ill-conceived ending. Questions and story lines are haphazardly tied up, with no real creativity and no movement forward of the story or characters. I wanted a confrontation between good and evil; I wanted a mystery resolved; I wanted a good ending - and Mr. Koontz doesn't deliver on any of them.
I'd taken a break from his writing for close to a decade, with only recently having read his last `animal' story, "The Darkest Evening of the Year" (which I enjoyed). I thought I'd give him another chance. I guess I can scratch that idea.
It wasn't a bad book, but it was just OK. Nice quick read.
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