From the ever-more popular Koontz (Strangers; Watchers; Lightning; etc.), terrific mainstream horror entertainment about a small California town ravaged by a mad scientific experiment. From the arch-spooky opening--a jogger is stalked and slain by slavering things--to the wildly emotional ending, Koontz cooks at high heat here. The premise, revealed slowly, is a self-conscious amalgam of Frankenstein/Dr. Moreau/Body Snatchers: rich mad-scientist Tom Shaddack is creating slave life-forms by injecting the people of Moonlight Cove with microchips that evolve them into superstrong-and-smart beings who feel no emotion but fear of Shaddack (if he dies, so do they, via death-chips). Problem is, some of the ""New People"" are ""regressives"" who seem to be devolving into prehominid life-forms--wolf, ape--with a taste for human flesh. It's to investigate a rash of killings that FBI man Sam Booker comes to town incognito, soon hooking up with perky filmmaker Tessa Lockland (sister to that slain jogger), then with crippled Vietnam vet Harry Talbot and spunky 11-year-old Chrissie Foster--whose charming interior monologues (""Exhibiting her usual cleverness. . .Chrissie wisely turned away from the cursed house and set off into the night. . ."") leaven the high-tension action with welcome humor. In growing fear, the quartet learns that the ""regressives"" aren't simply caught in reverse evolution: they're actually shape-shifters able to choose any form they desire--as are all the New People. And so before the mayhem ends, Booker & Co. must do bloody battle with a host of weird but gratifyingly familiar beasts--including cyborgs, an Alien creature, and a twin to the Blob. Koontz recaps and puts a high-velocity spin on the whole history of horror fiction here, enriching a bounty of scary set-pieces with winsome characters and piquant reflection on what exactly makes us human. This is Koontz at his best, and a surefire best-seller.