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Mr. Murder, Limited Edition Hardcover – October 27, 1993
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Martin Stillwater is a novelist with a wife and children he adores -- and an imagination he can't control. One rainy afternoon, a stranger breaks into Martin's house and accuses him of stealing his family, his name, and his life. Martin has no choice but to take his family and flee, even as he questions his own sanity. But wherever they go, the stranger is right behind them. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The formula Koontz ( The Bad Place ) uses here is a familiar one: an overpowering evil stalks an innocent family that remains unaware of the menace until isolated from all help and forced to run for their lives. But enhanced by Koontz's lean prose and rich characterization, this fearsome tale summons up new frissons of horror. Marty Stillwater's second horror novel is bestseller-bound; he's the subject of a People magazine feature article; and his wife, Paige, and their two young daughters complete the perfect family. Then he begins having blackouts and paralyzing panic attacks that lead him to hide guns around the house. The weapons prove handy when an armed stranger--Marty's Doppelganger --breaks into the house to kill him and reclaim the life, family and destiny that he swears Marty stole. A fierce battle leaves the stranger dead but when Paige and the police arrive, the body is gone. Unable to trust the cops, the family runs for the hills to try to evade the seemingly indestructible "Other." Meanwhile, sinister agents are desperately tracking The Other for their own less-than-ethical ends. Playing on every emotion and keeping the story racing along, Koontz masterfully escalates the tension. He closes the narrative with the most ingenious twist ending of his career. Literary Guild & Doubleday Book Club main selection; Mystery Guild alternate selection.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"MR. MURDER" (1993) is the eleventh Koontz book that I have read. This novel employs the same style and has some similarities to both HIDEAWAY (1992) and DRAGON TEARS (1993) but transitions from supernatural ("nutcase antagonist with supernatural abilities") to science fiction (nutcase anatgonist for science-based reasons). "MR MURDER" introduces the "up against a high-tech organization that can track you anywhere" idea that Koontz delves into more deeply with his next novel "DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART" (1994) which also has some similarities to this one. So Koontz was in a slight rut during these years with his books not changing from one to the next as much as during his more inspired times. The core ideas are actually original enough in each of the aforementioned books, but similarities arise in the way the ideas are subsequently fleshed out. However, MR. MURDER is well-written and a little better written than his average book and a fun read. (I have never read a poorly written Koontz novel - he seems to be too much of a hard-working perfectionist to allow that to happen.)
I would rank MR. MURDER against his other books that I have read as follows. Note that I have a slight bias in favor of science fiction over horror and the supernatural. In chronological order:
#1 WATCHERS (1987) - Top tier Koontz! More frequently cited as his best novel than any other of his books and I totally agree. Suspense/love story/horror/ action/science fiction. Outstanding character development, even by Koontz standards. An absolutely wonderful dog.
#3 LIGHTENING (1988) - Inspired book with some of the same strengths as WATCHERS but a very different novel and almost as good.
#5 HIDEAWAY (1992) - Antagonist has supernatural abilities. Some similararities to Dragon Tears.
#9 DRAGON TEARS (1993) - Antagonist has supernatural abilities. The similarities to Hideaway make me rank it lower primarily because Hideaway was written first.
#8 MR. MURDER (1993) - Fairly strong middle tier Koontz. You can see the transition from Dragon Tears to Dark Rivers and it overlaps with both too much.
#6 DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART (1994) Science fiction-tinged conspiracy story with similarities to the movie "Enemy of the State".
#2 INTENSITY (1996) - Top tier Koontz! He breaks out his pseudo-rut with a vengeance. 2nd most frequently cited as his best book after WATCHERS. A straight horror story which is not my favorite genre, but the quality of this work is very high. I though the title was pretentious until I read the book: wow INTENSE!
#4 ODD THOMAS (2003) - Koontz's adoption of a rather different writing style is by many considered to work the best in this novel. Supernatural.
#11 THE FACE (2003) - Very slow moving but excellent character development. I had some trouble staying engaged in this one because it was so slow. Still a pretty good book. Supernatural.
#10 LIFE EXPECTANCY (2004) - Koontz's experimentation with a new writing style in the Odd Thomas direction. Has quirkiness and humor: he is competant at this, but humor is not Koontz's strength. Strong character development. Still a good book. No science fiction or supernatural stuff.
#7 THE HUSBAND (2006) - Koontz had changed his style again. Fast paced page-turner at the expense of character development. No science fiction or supernatural stuff. Ends too abruptly.
Mr. Murder is about Martin Stillwater and his family. The book opens as Martin begins to have a weird sense that something is going to happen to him. And sure enough, it does! Within a few days a dead-ringer for Martin walks into his home, claiming Martin stole his identity & then tries to kill Martin. The majority of the book is Martin & his family which consists of a wife & two young girls, on the run from this being that claims to be Marty. We also watch as "The Other" is getting closer & closer; and not too far behind him is people who are after him as well!
The book was full of action & adventure. And of course nail-biting suspense & curiosity of what will happen next. The only thing that could be improved on would be the pace- I think the book could have moved a bit quicker- especially the ending. As usual Koontz's characters take the cake, they make the book. He has a special talent for creating likeable characters & getting the readers to really care about them. Recommended!
So why is it not more than a three star book? The problem is in the pacing. While it does have many spectacular, nail biting sequences, it also has too many parts that slows down the pace where not much happens. It is unnecessarily descriptive, sometimes repetitive. The fact that we get to see the story from both Stillwater's point of view and also from the point of view of the murderer, and get to know his thoughts ad feelings, adds an extra layer to the story, but it also slows down the pace, especially when, in the middle of some of the most climactic sequences, the action pauses to once more tell us how he feels about his "family".
Overall, "Mr. Murder" is a good book, but it should have been edited down a bit. It's not as slow as some of Koontz's worst works, but it's also nowhere near as fast paced as his best works.
My son had borrowed MR. MURDER from me years ago, and while on a visit to him I plucked it from his bookshelves and decided to read it again. It was even more thrilling the second time around, exciting from start to finish. This masterful writer took me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions throughout the reading.
To read Koontz books is to experience them. He is that great a wordsmith and a master at description and pacing. He certainly waxes eloquent, and he had me on the edge of my seat, worrying about Marty Stillwater, his wife and daughters. Would they survive ... or wouldn't they? Would his big, mean, larger-than-life doppleganger defeat him? All the odds were in the antagonist's favor, but Koontz pulled off a shocking surprise twist to come in with a satisfying ending.
A great book! A great read! Another winner for Dean Koontz, Master of Horror!