Tag Archives: Dean Koontz

Friday Fiction Fixes #12…

Velocity by Dean Koontz – 2005

Koontz-Dean-Velocity-4003-pI’ve read dozens of Koontz novels over the years – from the pretty terrible to the pretty terrific – but the man has earned my respect and gets a pass for the odd misfire. He is one of those authors I will always find a way back to if I can’t think of anything else to read. I’ve always envied his style. Koontz doesn’t write long-winded paragraphs but squeezes a lot of character into so few words. It’s a lot harder than it looks. It’s definitely a skill I admire, and there are very few people who can do it better.

For the first third of Velocity, I really thought it was going to be up there with his best. The idea is great: Billy Wile, finds a hand-written note under his windshield wiper (see the set-up spoiling cover picture above) and that’s it. Then we’re off to the races. It runs at a blistering pace, with a few clever moral quandaries to mull over along the way. The first two-thirds of the novel is fantastic, but once Billy starts to gain a little perspective on the situation, the story slows down, and it really isn’t as exciting or interesting anymore. Unfortunately it pulls towards a fairly unsatisfying conclusion with a couple of plot holes that you could drive a truck through.

Koontz knows how to pace a very good chase thriller, so even if the story wanes you never feel as though you’re sinking into quicksand because you’re always out the other side before you know it. Does he sometimes phone it in? Sure, that’s a valid criticism: his work can be a little formulaic at times, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. People like what’s familiar. If you enjoy beer, you don’t stop drinking it because it tastes the same as last time, do you?

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Another Koontz Klassic?

VelocityI 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.