I am a late-comer to Dean Koontz’s fiction. Being a romantic, I am not that inclined to crack open so-called “horror fiction,” even when it is written by a remarkably sensible person. However, perusing the library’s shelves opens one to all kinds of things, and this last time I was at the library I happened across Mr. Koontz’s book Relentless.
I cracked open the hardcover book and read the inside blurb (never start a book without reading the blurb on the back or on the inside; it is like checking the menu to see what you want to order at a restaurant). Relentless was intriguing to me because it was about an author, his wife, and their genius-level six year-old son literally being hunted down by a professional book critic. “That’s interesting,” I thought. “I know some critics have it in for good writers, but I have never heard of a critic carrying it this far.”
And, having read Relentless, readers, I can honestly say I never want to meet such a critic during my stay on this earth. Ever.
Relentless centers on the man of the family, Cullen “Cubby” Greenwich (where on earth does Koontz come up with these names?). His wife was given the name Brunhild when she was born, but she understandably uses the easier moniker Penny. Their six year-old, a rival to Tony Stark, is named Milo. Their non-barking dog is named Lassie, even though she is not a collie.
Cubby is an author, having just completed and published his sixth tome. Relentless begins with him promoting this book on the radio from home, and then going to breakfast in order to shake off his self-promotion guilt. Before he has a chance to start on his pancakes, though, the phone rings and his editor tells him she has sent him three reviews of this book. The last review, she tells him, is by a man who never likes stories similar to Cubby’s.
Well, Cubby goes to his computer and reads the review, against Penny’s advice, and finds that the man who lampooned his book: a) does not seem to understand its point; b) writes using very poor syntax, and c) actually does not seem to have reviewed the book at all, instead focusing on the publication letter that gets sent out to reviewers with newly published books.
From there, things go downhill fast. I will not spoil anything else about the story, readers, but let you pick up the book yourselves and read it, if you so desire. It is a very good book. I started reading it in the library and, before I was a page into the story, was laughing so hard I annoyed all the patrons around me. Relentless is a thrill ride that is as persistent in its humor as it is in its suspense. Dean Koontz, I tip my hat to you, sir! It is a rare author who can teach a lesson through a scary story, while managing at the same time to keep the reader in stitches.
Until next time, readers!
The Mithril Guardian