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Koontz's earliest thrillers (Night Chills, etc.) were stripped-down vehicles designed for speed and suspense, nothing more. In its terrific visceral energy, this latest, with the author's simplest plot in years—one long chase involving a Frankenstein-like monster, his guardians, and his victims—harkens back to those early affairs; but Koontz is a literary phenomenon now and feels free to load his writing with all sorts of sermons about modern-day woes. The title itself is polemical: ``Mr. Murder'' is the hated sobriquet that People magazine gives to Marty Stillwater, a rising mystery writer who might as well be called Dean Koontz for his California address, stable family life, and strong opinions about the nobility of storytelling and the corruption of American society. At first, Koontz seems to be aping Stephen King here, not just for his put-upon writer-hero but also for the malevolent, perhaps not quite human, twin of Marty's who blows into town, shades of The Dark Half. Koontz is his own writer, however, and it's soon clear that Alfie is no figment made flesh but a wonderfully creepy organic killing machine with a surprising origin and astounding recuperative powers (fueled by Slim Jims and Big Macs) who wants only to take over Marty's life—his wife, daughters, and writing career—and will squash him to do it. Also, Alfie's moral code comes from films he's seen—including porno films in which severe discipline alone brings females into line. Meanwhile, the top-secret federal agents in charge of Alfie—as well as of the experiment that produced him—are desperately hunting their charge, who's gone AWOL and beserk.... Blood pours; children shriek; Alfie makes like a werewolf on steroids while Marty acts like a lion—and Koontz nails the reader to the page once again, despite the soapboxing. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for December)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-13874-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1993

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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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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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