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November 18, 2007

The Good Guy



The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
Thriller
Finished on 11/14/07
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)



From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Bestseller Koontz (The Husband) delivers a thriller so compelling many readers will race through the book in one sitting. In the Hitchcockian opening, which resembles that of the cult noir film Red Rock West (1992), Timothy Carrier, a quiet stone mason having a beer in a California bar, meets a stranger who mistakes him for a hit man. The stranger slips Tim a manila envelope containing $10,000 in cash and a photo of the intended victim, Linda Paquette, a writer in Laguna Beach, then leaves. A moment later, Krait, the real killer, shows up and assumes Tim is his client. Tim manages to distract Krait from immediately carrying out the hit by saying he's had a change of heart and offering Krait the $10,000 he just received. This ploy gives the stone mason enough time to warn Linda before they begin a frantic flight for their lives. While it may be a stretch that the first man wouldn't do a better job of confirming Tim's identity, the novel's breathless pacing, clever twists and adroit characterizations all add up to superior entertainment.

I had just about written off Koontz after two less-than-impressive follow-ups to my favorite novel, Odd Thomas. However, when I came upon a copy of The Good Guy at the library, I decided to give it a try once my husband was finished reading it. Wow! What a thriller. I couldn't put this book down and when I did, I couldn't wait to get back to it. Absent any supernatural element, this is a bit reminiscent of Odd Thomas, what with the likeable main character and a hint of a love interest on the horizon. The pacing is even and intense and I could easily have read the book over the course of a weekend. Definitely one of the best thrillers I've read in a long time.

I would have given The Good Guy a perfect score, had I not encountered the following passages:

Under the night-light of the sentinel moon, ruffled hems of surf and a decorative stitching that fringed the incoming waves suggested billows of fancy bedding under which the sea turned restlessly in sleep.

and

As iridescent as a snake's skin, thin ravels of slivery clouds peeled off the face of a molting moon.

Koontz is very good writer, yet when I read lines such as these, I feel as if he's trying too hard to be lyrical. The metaphors are overwrought; they disrupt the smooth flow of the narrative and feel contrived. However, the further along I read, the fewer I encountered and I was able to settle back in and enjoy the read. And, yet, not all of his metaphors are poorly executed. I especially like this one:

In the red twilight, the evergreen forest stood in a fragrant vaulted hush, like a cathedral in which only owls worshipped with a one-word prayer.

In any event, Koontz is back on my list of favorite authors. And, as luck should have it, I just happen to have a copy of his new book, The Darkest Evening of the Year (due out on November 27th). Time to go read!

9 comments:

  1. YEA! I'm so glad you liked this. I've had it by my bedside for at least six weeks and just haven't got to it. The last time I came by for a visit I saw that you were reading it and was eager to see your review. Yippee!

    Unfortunately, I think my allotted renewals are up, so my copy will be due back to the library very soon. I don't think I have time to get to it before then. :(

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  2. If you have 24 hours, you have enough time. This is quite the page-turner. Great cat-and-mouse thriller, a bit reminiscent of John Sandford's Prey series. Glad you enjoyed the review.

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  3. LES!!! Why did you say that?!? Grrr...the pressure! It's Thanksgiving week, so I best not start it or we won't be having a clean house or a dinner!

    I just looked up my library account. It's due December 3rd, so the pressure is off. Whew! I guess I'll put the others aside to make room for Koontz. It's really not that difficult to do with such a rave review.

    And...I'm so glad that he made it back onto your "Good Guy" list again. :)

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  4. That last paragraph was a heart stopper - you already have his next book. I think that's so unfair since I've stayed true to Koontz through all 3 Odd books! I hope The Darkest Evening proves to be good. I love settling into a Koontz book.

    Glad you like Good Guy. I did, too. And even though Koontz goes a bit overboard on his dusk, dawn and night sky descriptions I usually like them. Overboard or not.

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  5. Oh goodie!! I'm glad to hear Koontz is back!! He's long been one of my favorites, but I really haven't read any of his stuff lately. Looks like I should pick this one up!

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  6. I go back and forth with him and it often has to do with his endings. I like a happy ending as much as the next person but he used to stretch things beyond believability to achieve that. One of the reasons I liked the first Odd Thomas was that it's the first time I can remember where he didn't force a happy ending. I'm glad to hear this one is good.

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  7. I love reading a good Dean Koontz book every now and again when I need something I just can't put down, but I'm with you about the awkward and clunky "I'm trying too hard" metaphors that seem to crop up in his writing. It's very distracting and always makes me want to stop reading and say "What? It was like what??"

    I read Life Expectancy recently and enjoyed it (because it was unputdownable and lacking in bizarre metaphors), and The Darkest Evening of the Year sounds very promising, so I guess I'll have to spend some more time reading Koontz soon! =)

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  8. Anonymous4:55 PM

    I never read the book by Koontz, but I did read "Bel Canto." I didn't like it as much as you as I liked "Patron Saint of Liars" much better. However, I was in a strange place while reading "Bel Canto" so someday I may reread it.

    Gayla

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  9. Joy - You'll just have to start in on it on Friday. I've just started The Darkest Evening of the Year today and so far, so good. Hope he continues to be on my "good guy" list. ;)

    Booklogged - I had to go back and read the entire last chapter! Great finale. As I mentioned to Joy, I've just started the new book and like it so far. I'll probably whip through it in a day or so, so stay tuned!

    Stephanie - This is definitely one of his best. Maybe I just prefer his thrillers over his horror stuff. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a nice romance. ;)

    Katya - I agree about the happy ending thing. Sometimes it's a bit too contrived and implausible. The ending of this one was satisfactory and worked well. We'll see how his new one goes...

    Megan - I haven't read Life Expectancy, but will add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendation. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Gayla - You don't care for creepy books, do you? You probably wouldn't like most of Koontz's books, although this one is more of a thriller and it may surprise you. As far as Bel Canto and Patron Saint of Liars, I haven't read the latter, but have heard great things about it. I'll have to get a copy one of these days and give it a read. Thanks!

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