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DRAGON TEARS

An electrifying terrorfest in which Koontz (Hideaway, 1992, etc.), inking his silkiest writing yet, takes on the serial-killer novel and makes it his own. Koontz hooks us at once (``Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch'') and never lets go. Harry is a cop, and the man he guns down—with help from Harry's partner, Connie Gulliver—is a crazy who disrupts the cops' restaurant-lunch by shooting the joint to bits. It's an exhilarating opener—and it's also a lovely red herring, because the crazy has no connection, other than as another symptom of the rot of modern life, with the killer that Harry and Connie take on later. He's Bryan Drackman, who fixates on the cops when he's drawn to the restaurant carnage. Bryan, like most serial killers, believes that he has godlike powers; but Bryan—and here's Koontz's ace—really does. Mutated in the womb by radiation and drugs, Bryan has grown into a sociopath who can conjure up any entity he wants—especially ``Ticktock,'' a giant who stalks Harry, Connie, and several others, including a dog whose periodic narration (``Piece of paper. Candy wrapper. Smells good'') is so charming that you don't mind that Koontz used a similar dog-ploy in Watchers (1986). Ticktock warns Harry & Co. that they'll die at dawn—and it's only late into the night that they learn of Bryan's greatest power: the power to stop time, which unveils in a jaw- dropping set-piece in which the cops flee through a frozen world with Ticktock close behind. But Bryan, the cops now know, must sleep after his time-stopping binges: Can they find him before he wakes up? Koontz gets a bit preachy about social decay—but his action never flags in this vise-tight tale that'll rocket right to the top of the charts. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for March)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-13789-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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