I have read a wealth of Dean Koontz novels over the years – from the abysmal Tick Tock to the glorious Mr. Murder – and he is one of those authors I will always find a way back to if I can’t think of anything else to read. He knows how to write a good thriller, and for the first third of Velocity, I really thought it was going to be his best yet.
Unfortunately, the idea – which is great – pulls towards a fairly unsatisfying conclusion with a couple of plot holes that you could have driven a truck through. But I won’t spoil that…
Our protagonist, Billy Wile, finds a hand-written note under his windshield wiper:
If you don’t take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.
— and that is the set-up.
It runs at a blistering pace, with a few clever moral quandaries to mull over. It’s fantastic for the first two hundred pages, but once Billy starts to gain a little perspective on the situation and begins to think for himself, the novel slows down, and it really isn’t as exciting or interesting anymore.
Negativity aside though, I envy his style. Koontz doesn’t write long-winded paragraphs. He squeezes a lot of character into so few descriptive words, and it always makes me go back and look at some of the stuff I have written for comparison. I used to think it was poor writing or (worse) laziness, but it’s most definitely a skill I admire, and very few people can do it better.
So yeah, pick up Velocity for a quick, easy read. You could do a lot worse. But be warned: the ending is a let-down.