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Book Review: Winter Moon – Author Dean Koontz

By: Dean Koontz
Berkley Publishing

When Jack a Los Angeles police officer is injured in the line of duty despair falls upon the McGarvey family. While temporarily paralyzed there is little wife Heather and son Toby have to hold onto aside from hope and faith. Salvation is unveiled in the darkest hour in the form of a mysterious inheritance. The McGarvey family is the sole beneficiary of a Montana ranch and a small fortune. Recuperating under the cold, mid-west country air the McGarvey’s begin to detect they’re not entirely alone. Has their new fortune proved to be too costly at the hands of an entity from beyond this world?

If you’ve recently read Winter Moon or have an unshakeable sensation of deja-vu it’s because you’ve seen this novel before. Dean Koontz had originally written Winter Moon under a pseudonym, Aaron Wolfe in 1975. The book then was aptly titled Invasion. One cannot argue the creative marketing prowess of one Dean Koontz, capitalizing upon a monstrous bestselling enterprise. Why not exhume a previous works, refine it a little and rerelease it under a proven commodity. I’m hard pressed to find any fans of the author new and die hard devotees would argue the notion.

I often joke with my fellow reader friends asking if they’d read that Dean Koontz novel. You know the one about the government cover up with the sarcastic characters and the dog in it? In all seriousness the author has found a formula that works and works quite lucratively without question. Carnal rule number one in writing is to write what you know about. Koontz quite obviously has a flare for conspiracy theories and an affection for animals, dogs in particular. It is my belief that the master of suspense has an unprecedented talent for bringing characters to life. Sure his protagonists are a little quirky, a little silly and many think they’re a comedian. Broken down to its lowest common denominator wouldn’t you have to agree that virtually everyone in our lives in one fashion or another is a little bit of a Dean Koontz character? His sense of breathing life into likeable, believable individuals with everyday attributes of flaws, weaknesses, insecurities, family values, hopes, dreams and fears we can’t help but see our neighbours, sisters, brothers, co-workers, parents and partners in his characters. It suspends the senses of belief, always luring us further without protest.

I like how the author in the case of Winter Moon is telling two tales simultaneously. It keeps the pace fresh and fast moving. The reader is seldom if not never bored. As we’re invested into the perils of Jack and his family in his rehabilitation process we also get a glimpse into Eduardo Fernandez and the eccentric circumstances that cause him to leave his Montana estate to the fallen officer of the law. Koontz slowly stirs the plot, forever rising the tension. His gift for luring the reader into the macabre and chasing then through pulse hammering, neck breaking suspense causes the readership to obsessively engage in what happens next. It is my belief the average reader finishes a Dean Koontz novel in three to four sittings. The stories are that damned addictive.

In Winter Moon it’s intriguing to see the levels of different conflict presented. From the first to final acts we begin with the standard man versus man adversary of Officer Jack McGarvey, his partner and the shootout at a local gas station. Later conflict presents itself in the overall theme of man verses himself as Jack struggles within unsure of his ability to recuperate from partial paralysis, muscle atrophy and the emotional and spiritual ramifications. The final act rounds of the entire conflict gambit nicely with the theme of man versus supernatural. Of course I won’t disclose any plot spoilers here but conclusion is eerie, spine chilling goodness that just may cause you to sleep with the light on a night or two.

Some of the descriptions as noted here and virtually every other Koontz novel can be a little over indulgent. Don’t get me wrong. I love a vivid picture painted. I love being able to escape within the recesses of one cover to cover, a spine and the pages being my virtual landscape that knows no bounds. For a lack of better description it’s like a motion picture playing in my head. The author’s stories in all likelihood play at that theatre more than any other. Yet I find it frustrating engaging in extravagant verbatim about the architectural integrity of each and every free standing structure or the photosynthesis properties of each encompassing foliage. Okay Dean. We get it. You’re setting a mood, creating an image. But not all of us are engineers and landscapers so sometimes less can be so much more.

Obviously he knows what works and what doesn’t. A repeated New York Times best-selling author of suspense with a sense of humour is a viable commodity. Often Koontz’s endeavors have elements of romance, action, drama and of course humour all catering to a wider audience. Rumour has it Dean Koontz has made a rather lucrative living following such a formula. In essence if it’s not broken, why fix it?

Book Review: Winter Moon – Author Dean Koontz

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