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Dark Rivers of the Heart Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 292 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Koontz's tale of a man, a woman and a dog on the run from a high-tech rogue government agency was a PW bestseller for nine weeks.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Spencer Grant is on the run from a nameless, violent government agency. His goal is to keep away from his pursuers long enough to find the woman he met the night before, who appears to be their real target. Spencer has no idea why they want to kill Valerie Keene, but his brief acquaintance with her has convinced him that the killers have no good reason for wanting her dead. With his game but fearful dog, Rocky, Spencer leads the killers on a frustrating chase. By the end of the story, Spencer must confront his own personal demons as well as the bizarre sociopathic agent leading the hunt. The government's activities-especially the incredible surveillance techniques that Koontz, in an afterword, claims are currently being used-help create an atmosphere of intense paranoia and fear. This superb suspense novel will surely delight the author's many fans.
--A.M.B. Amantia, Population Action International, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553582895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553582895
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,129,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tung Yin VINE VOICE on December 3, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: 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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Format: 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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