myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: The Good Guy Book Review

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Good Guy Book Review

The Good Guy

By Dean Koontz

Published by Bantam

May 29, 2007

400 pages

To some of you unfortunate people, the name Dean Koontz means nothing. And then there are others who maybe gave him a try back in the olden days, and in response to that name, you might say, “Oh yeah, yeah… I know who that is…didn’t he write a book about a golden retriever? And then there was like, a mutant one, too? Chasing it?” Then, really revving up the old memory motor, you might say, “And hey… there was a MOVIE! With that eighties guy- one of the Cories! He writes scary books, right?”

Yes, yes, Dean Koontz did indeed write a book a about a golden retriever, long ago in the by-gone times. It was called “Watchers”. And yes, they made a less-than-successful, although everyone-seems-to-have-seen-it movie after it too. With Cory Haim. (It wasn’t altogether too much like the book. There was no Cory in the book.) And, stretching it, but still staying within the boundaries of Truth, you could even say there was a mutant golden retriever in that book. But when it comes to the “he writes scary books, right?”, that is where the debate might begin.

So, everyone knows “Watchers”. And let me tell you, if you do, and this is the only association you have with Dean Koontz in your mind, you are sad. But you might get happy, if you’re like me and love to hear about undiscovered treasure troves of books just waiting out there for you to find them and read them. Dean Koontz did write scary books. Note the past tense. It was how he started his career, it was how he gained his first audience, it was what was selling, I tend to think, in those days where following in the King’s footsteps might be the best path to success for any writer who could slap together some words that would inspire goosebumps. Now, his books are not less-scary, they are scary in an entirely different way. Instead of bringing imaginary monsters to your mind when you’re trying to sleep and the closet door is squeaking, Koontz’s style has shifted, and it’s the real monsters he usually writes about now. They don’t go bump in the night.

These monsters sneak up behind you in the night with a hypodermic needle, bent on kidnapping you for some crazy secret government plan. But they might just decide to use you for their own bizarre experiment first. Oh, and they think they are God. And they have planted a bomb in a nursery school that is set to go off in three hours, and you, although weaponless and not really all that tough; need to figure out how to stop him. That’s the kind of scary we get from Koontz today, in his prime. Koontz delivers glimpses of the streaked and dirty underbelly of the world we really live in, the out-of-the-blue, once in a million chance encounter, and ordinary people who find it within themselves to do unordinary things. And there is a sweet romantic streak he can’t help but show in the machoest of his books (although none of them are very macho.)

Yes, Koontz wrote “Watchers”, and a lot of other hokey horror novels.

But let me tell you… Dean Koontz has come a long, long way.

He is the author of Odd Thomas, the coolest three book series about a mellow, quite un-extraordinary fry cook who can see ghosts, and acts like a hero because his heart is big, not because he wants to be one. He is also the author of the Christopher Snow books, another two-book set of Sheer Awesomeness about Snow, who has mad ass discoveries to make about the tiny coastal town he lives in, and he is handicapped by the fact that he is basically allergic to sunlight. He wrote a still-continuing series about Frankenstein, set in modern times. Not mentioning a handful of other Koontz books that are stand-alones and bitchin, and wow, I could start foaming at the mouth and become totally incoherent, because Koontz rocks in a way few authors do. On a very consistent basis, too. By the standards of my reading rainbow, his books have all been red for a long time, changing in color the further back we go, to the days of “Watchers” where he earned himself a plain old yellowarnge for average. I admit I am curious what people who loved those old books think of his writing, now. What does a person who thought Watchers was the greatest book ever think of Koontz’s modern complex rollercoaster books of psychological terror, with not a monster in sight?

The Good Guy is his latest novel. I had it ordered at Amazon months ago, and paid for the speediest shipping possible. I swear the ink was not yet dry when I got that book in my greedy fingers. The only other authors I do that with are Stephen King and Lee Child. Now, lest you think that Koontz is “just another Stephen King”, let me put a stop to that silliness right here and now. He is nothing like Stephen King, trust me. King’s books ramble on for a thousand pages and detail the blossoming of each tiny nub of a flower in the plot line. Koontz’s books are spare, cut down to the bone, fast-moving, and damn I wish they were longer. King’s books explore every facet of a character’s heart, letting the reader share in each gritty detail and thought, to the point that some readers complain about three pages spent on one song lyric and what the character thinks of when he hears it. Koontz’s characters are somewhat of a mystery. He keeps secrets from the readers, at least for a few pages, and we are never positive we know what they are going to do, or what has happened to make them the way they are today…although we are fairly confident we will by the end of the book. They both wrote horror novels back in the eighties. They both have become masterful, powerful writers by today. That’s the common thread, and that is pretty much where it ends.

Now, to give you a spare and cut to the bone briefing on the Good Guy, which I read in about four hours, then downloaded on Itunes, and am listening to again when I have to drive to town.

Timothy Carrier is a big, bear of a man, but he likes a quiet, boring life. He is a mason, and goes to unwind after a hard day in his friend’s tavern, where he sits on the last barstool…. The one that makes him “the smallest guy in the room from the door”. He is not a loner, really, but he doesn’t go out of his way to look for people to play with either. He lives a quiet life, with a few friends and a family that loves him, Mr. Ordinary. Mr. Quiet. Mr. Keeps to Himself. Not Mr. Anti-social, however, so when a man slips on to a barstool next to him, and obviously thinks he is someone else, Tim’s playful side emerges, and allows the guy think incorrectly, figuring for a few moment’s fun before the mistake is realized.

It’s not so funny when the guy then passes him an envelope full of cash and a woman’s picture, tells him he’ll get the rest “when she’s gone” and then is gone himself, before Timothy realizes exactly what has happened in his jokey moment of confused identities. Most people would get the hell out of a situation like this. Most people might call the cops and then duck out of it quickly. Some people might even keep the cash and go on with their life, a bit guilty, but much richer.

Tim Carrier is not most, or even some, people. The reader gets a vibe of that early on in the story, but like many a Koontz novel, we don’t see the full picture of who Tim is, and what made him that way, until near the end of the novel. This book is no different from the latest and greatest of Koontz’s work. Fast-paced, the storyline practically blazes its way through the pages, and before you know it, you’re at the end, and once again in awe of the neat way Koontz ties up the dangling threads into a neat bow for the reader to ponder.

It’s not the very best of Koontz, and it’s way far from the worst. Definitely worth your time, whether on paper or via earphones, it is an arresting, quick story that will leave you grinning for the good guys. And it reminded again of why I have Koontz’s next novel pre-bought with the box waiting to be shipped to me one second after printing- because he is one of the best of the best, a super damn good writer, and worth every penny and every second of my life spent reading his stuff. And judging from the cover, it looks like his next book has a golden retriever in it, too.

I give it a red on the Reader’s Rocking Rainbow.

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Anonymous Cinni said...

i am listening to this too! The guy has a good voice. and the book, i cannot put it down! (i think you should review audio books too and warn us if the reader is terrible.) that can spoil a great audio book and they aint cheap either.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Blake said...

Sounds good. I thought Velocity was good, and right now I'm in the middle of Strange Highways which is a lot of fun.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Cinni- I just listened to possibly the worst book on tape I have ever listned to... but it was a riveting story. Unfortunately, it was read by the author, and although she is a dr., she is NOT a reader. Called "IceBound: A Dr.'s incredible battle for survival at the south pole."
Blake: Velocity is right up there as one of my all-time reading rainbow rockin on books. :) Sheer awesomeness in page form.

8:20 AM  

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