Book Review
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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid


The latest paperback from prolific author Dean Koontz has just hit the Bookazine shelves (past titles False Memory, Seize the Night, The Face of Fear and around 20 more titles). This new release, Relentless (ISBN 978-0-00-726761-3, Harper, 2010) is a tale of a bestselling author (Cubby Greenwich) and how a negative review article by critic Shearman Waxx destroys his, and his family’s, life as they once knew it.

Author Koontz has a disarming sense of humor which comes through, giving the thriller a kind of dark humor to it. Right from the outset, he had me chuckling as I read his description of his son’s dog Lassie. “She is not permitted to sit at the table with us; however, because she refuses to live entirely at dog level, she is allowed a chair at a four foot remove, where she can observe and feel part of the family at mealtimes.” Likewise his description of his wife, “…she looked scrumptious enough that I would have eaten her alive had we been in a country that mandated compassionate tolerance for cannibals.”

Even while building the suspense, the ‘noir’ comes through when Cubby Greenwich says, “I assumed Shearman Waxx possessed a gun - as well as a butcher knife, a switchblade, an axe, a chainsaw, a power drill with an assortment of bits, and a wood chipper.”

The book revolves around the elusive Waxx, the feared and yet revered critic who wrote the negative review, and Cubby Greenwich’s response to both the review and reviewer. Is it a simple paranoia - or does Shearman Waxx have a masochistic side? At one stage Greenwich says, “Paranoia had become my default position.”

As you get further into the book, you realize that paranoia is not the problem, as Greenwich discovers two other authors who have been crucified by the same reviewer, and then were terrorized by him as well.

The family becomes more and more terrified as Waxx seems to double guess them at every turning. At some stages it even looks like Waxx has supernatural powers.

Koontz’s quirky writing still comes through even when describing such events as two violent deaths by gunshot. “…five minutes after Blockhead and his nameless sidekick arrived at the pearly gates with resumes that made St. Peter call for the celestial security guards.”

There is more than a slight touch of the conspiracy theory which becomes evident at the denouement, but is totally believable (or perhaps I am a conspiracy theorist).

Even though some parts of the plot need a little leap of faith, such as a teleporting dog and saltshakers with time travel capabilities, it is still a damn good yarn, and you do find yourself becoming involved with the twists and turns, while trying not to be too shocked at some of the gory details.

At B. 350 this is not an expensive paperback, is a great read and even better value. I look forward to Dean Koontz’s next title, which is entitled Breathless (already out in hardback, so expect the paperback edition next year), and the reader is given an eight page teaser at the end of the novel.