A distinct advance novelistically over Koontz's earlier gothic gabble (Whispers, Phantoms, Night Chills), though hardly scary. A bunch of seemingly unrelated people are experiencing extreme spasms of fear and unexplainable temporary blackouts. With increasing frequency, the sight of black leather gloves, water going down a bright sink bowl, motorcyclists in visors, nightfall, and the rising of the moon, among other phenomena, bring on these fits of horror. A newly successful young California author finds himself walking in his sleep nightly while fearful messages appear on his word processor: a priest who loses his faith brings a fatally wounded cop back to life, and then the cop himself experiences incredible powers of healing and regeneration; an ex-Marine who now runs a Nevada motel can't bear the coming of the night or the rising of the moon; and a millionaire master thief suddenly becomes guilt-ridden to the bone. When a young surgeon, Dr. Ginger Marie Weiss, gets similar fear attacks, she goes to an elderly master hypnotist who puts her through several sessions of hypnotic regression to recover the original event producing these fears that has been blocked in her memory. It seems that she's been brainwashed (as have the others) to forget something, something that all these people experienced while staying at a Nevada motel a few years ago. They were strangers then, but all are drawn with Ginger (as in Close Encounters of the Third Kind) back to the Nevada site of their fear--where the military has buried in Thunder Hill something incredible that recently visited the earth and must be hidden. What that turns out to be is all too close a replay of the Spielberg classic. Padded, pumped up and puffed out unbearably for the 512-page air-headed rip-off being delivered, Strangers nonetheless maintains steady interest and a new sense of ambition in the author, whose best pages here--and there are many of them--have nothing to do with genre writing. Enough to show that Koontz might actually write something hors de commerce someday.