The Good Guy, by Dean Koontz

Just thinking, I can remember when he was Dean R. Koontz. I wonder whatever happened to that.

At this point, having read every Dean Koontz book except the two most recent (still in hardcover) and the eleven or twelve he has ready to release in the next six months, I’m not even sure how to review it. I guess I’ll start with the simplest statement.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable book, a quick read (about 450 pages in a couple of days), and by tomorrow I will have forgotten what it was about, just like I can’t for the life of me remember what the plot was to Dark Rivers Of The Heart, Mr. Murder, The Face, or The House Of Thunder.

Dean Koontz books are the literary equivalent of James Bond movies. Some are excellent (Casino Royale), some are good (Diamonds Are Forever), some are wretched (Moonraker). Almost all of them have the same basic set up.

So let’s create a recipe for a Dean Koontz book:

  • Average guy/girl, bruised and saddened by life, gets involved in dangerous situation
  • Average guy meets plucky girl who is somehow caught up in the situation
  • Very, very bad guy with delusions of being somehow above all humanity pursues average guy and plucky girl
  • Add one cute canine at some point
  • Stir government conspiracy into the mix (optional)
  • Chase scene across many miles
  • Final confrontation; average guy and plucky girl emerge victorious
  • Average guy and plucky girl get married

The above description fits about 85% of Dean Koontz’s books. It’s a formula. The downside of this is that his most of his characters are essentially interchangeable, and most of the set pieces of the plot can be swapped from novel to novel. Is there any difference whatsoever in the chase scenes between The Good Guy and, say, Dark Rivers Of The Heart? Nope, not really.

However, it’s a good formula. It works and provides for a nice, easy read. Mom’s apple pie is made the same way every time, with the same ingredients. But damn, it’s tasty every single time.

This is a mid-level Dean Koontz book. It’s far superior to his lazy efforts like The House Of Thunder or The Voice in the Night, but not up to the level of the books where his formula includes honest-to-God inspiration (Dark Rivers Of The Heart, Hideaway, Phantoms, Whispers, Darkfall, Strangers, the “Odd Thomas” books) or where he breaks from the formula (Intensity, The Taking).

Looking for a nice light read for the beach? The Good Guy satisfies nicely. Looking for something challenging that will make you think and reassess the nature of God, man, and nature? Stick with Tolstoy.


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