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For his 19th book, the incredible Koontz (Mr. Murder, 1993, etc.) kicks off a change of publisher (the brand-new Tartikoff/Warner imprint) with his first-ever collection. Strange Highways holds two novels, plus 12 novellas and short stories, all but the title novel published before but here tastefully if not totally rewritten. ``Strange Highways'' itself tells of alcoholic Joey Shannon's return in 1995 to Coal Valley, a ghost town once emptied of people by the federal government when 4,000 acres of burning coal seams beneath it threatened to collapse and turn everyone to cinders. Joey can be redeemed from his alcoholism if he saves young Celeste Baker from crucifixion by his psychopathic brother, P.J., a bestselling suspense novelist (!) whom Joey once helped cover up a murder. Time hurls Joey back into 1975, and again and again in replays of the same scene he fails three times to stop his brother's hammerstrokes before the power to believe gives him the needed strength. Whatever its appeal, this is gimmicky, joylessly uninspired hackwork. Also here is ``Kittens,'' Koontz's first published story, a neat piece from 1966 that turns on the forced characterization of a religious zealot. The story that shows greatest promise, though, is ``Twilight of the Dawn,'' about an architect whose adamant atheism costs him his beloved business partner. When his wife dies in an auto accident and his son comes down with bone cancer, his atheism remains intact. But what begins with a Tolstoyan sweep fades into a breeze when two miracles attest to the truth of an afterlife. The closing novel, Chase, first published in 1974 under the pseudonym K.R. Dwyer, is straight suspense with no supernatural trimmings: a Medal of Honor winner may be the weird killer who murders fornicators on lovers' lane. Despite some weak moments and dumb dialogue in passing, the suspense holds and won't disappoint fans. Strange highways—but little feeling of freshness or originality. (First printing of 500,000; Literary Guild main selection)

Pub Date: May 23, 1995

ISBN: 0-446-51974-X

Page Count: 512

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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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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