November 18, 2007
The Good Guy
The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
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.
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!