Thursday , February 22 2024
Koontz's latest offers fear, suspense, red-hot emotions and unexpected twists and turns of the plot.

Book Review: ‘The Face of Fear,’ A Thriller by Dean Koontz

The title of this book tells you well what to expect of it: fear, suspense, red-hot emotions and unexpected twists and turns of the plot. Add to this the fact that the novel was written by Dean Koontz, a famous master of thrillers, and you won’t be disappointed from the very first page.

The story starts with a TV interview with Graham, the former mountain climber, who acquired supernatural mental capacity after an almost fatal fall off the slope of Everest. This psychic ability of the protagonist is the only deviation from a crime-detective story, in which nothing but the puzzle of reality exists. However, this assumption of Graham’s clairvoyant trait should not be categorized as a complete fantasy, as there are a few documented cases when psychics helped to solve crime mysteries. In any case, the story, told with convincing clarity of details is as believable as it could be in this genre.

The host of the talk show tries to expose Graham as a charlatan. With his skills and experience he could have succeeded, if not for the Graham’s sudden vision of a crime which, as he claims during the interview, is being committed as he speaks. Graham describes the crime as a real witness, who sees the action with his own eyes. The only choice the host has is to wait for the late morning hours, when the write-up of homicides appears in the media crime news.

And that is what happens! At this point a second line of the story starts its journey. The serial killer, who committed the crime so vividly depicted by Graham, decides to kill him and his wife. Here Koontz introduces psychological and philosophical idea of the novel, around which the story evolves: the false idea of superiority, which incites some into committing the most terrible crime — murder, resorting to physical and psychological torture.

An overinflated ego and narcissism is a well-known psychological phenomenon. Many people, their numbers being much greater than an average mind could suggest, bear a burden of it through all their lives. But most of them are not criminals. Combined with an incessant craving for illusive fame and with a deeply hidden inferiority complex, this trait makes them monsters — suffice to recall the killers of Luther King, John Lennon, John Kennedy, or the one who shot and wounded president Ronald Reagan, to name a few. But there are many, who kill indiscriminately, for no other reason than to make a statement. Torture and humiliation of their victims is another proof for them of their power and superiority. This thriller is about them.

The serial killer, experienced and confident of his smarts and superiority over ‘ordinary’ people, sees no reason why Graham and his wife Connie would not be an easy pray, as all others had been. But his well-planned assault turns out to be a hard, nerve wrenching hunt for two strong people, whose weapons are mostly their wits, determination to survive, and whatever hard objects came in handy.

The sympathy for Graham and Connie grows from page to page. We follow them through a large, dark office building, find them climbing down vertical walls from fortieth floor, and finding smart solutions in seemingly hopeless citations.

A mix of deep psychological analysis, philosophical issues, and nerve-wracking suspense makes this novel unique, and puts it in the rank of the best contemporary thrillers.

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About Alex Markman

Alex Markman is the author of fiction books, main subject of which is adventure, romance and integrity of human mind and soul. His drive to discover new places has brought him to such locales as the vast, unspoiled wilderness of Russian Ural and Siberia to the refined urban areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco. His adventures, his often dangerous life, and familiarity with people from different cultures have given him abundant material for his highly entertaining stories. Fiction by Alex Markman: Contra-ODESSA, Novel Payback for Revenge, Novel Messenger of Death, Novel Dark Days of Love, Collection of novellas Non-Fiction: Putin, the Russian Elite, and the Future of Russia

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