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Reviews in Brief: Velocity by Dean R. Koontz

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Billy Wiles finds a note on his car one day. Its instructions? Do or do not go to the police. Either way, someone will die. Billy is offered a chance to decide which person that is, based on his action or inaction. At first, he thinks it is a joke, but the stakes are soon raised and he is caught in a game that leaves us, like little children, asking, “What will he do?”

Velocity is aptly titled, considering it had me reading at twice my usual pace. Koontz, obviously, has not lost his touch for thrilling suspense. That said, everything about the novel — except its spine — seemed to be too thin. Maybe it was written as fast as it reads, because Koontz forgets, or simply chooses not to make, explanatory links between several plot points, which ultimately attaches to the novel a feeling of baseness. (Was the author behind on a deadline?) Variations on the unbelievable “How’re they hangin’, Kemosabe?” were present four or five times, which really puts the brakes on a novel that lives or dies on its insistence to be read quickly.

Likewise for the many descriptions of things the reader has neither a need for nor an interest in. And the most interesting moments, the revelatory or exploratory ones, the ones dealing with the human condition and the hearts of men, were reduced to one or two short, ultimately inadequate sentences. Perhaps to add some depth, Koontz relies on T.S. Eliot’s words throughout Velocity, but the story does only a superficial job of providing them context. Read it for a laugh, read it to find out who done it. Read it because you’re bored and have had enough T.V. Just don’t be sad when the climax doesn’t manage to surprise.

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