Saturday, March 31, 2012

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz - Spooky Slight of Hand

(Disclosure: I received a review copy of the British edition of 77 Shadow Street. This look inside includes mild spoilers, though no more than the Amazon entry on The House of Thunder.)

Things are always incredible, but an ah-ha is usually in store somewhere in the pages of a Dean Koontz thriller. A slow reveal often twists and explains seemingly supernatural events in a rational or scientific manor, or there's an inversion you weren't expecting.

77 Shadow Street, his latest novel, features many Koontz hallmarks juggled into new alignment. It's a standout among his recent offerings, though Koontz novels never fail to entertain.

When the book opens, odd things are going on at the luxury apartment building known as the Pembleton, conveniently located at the title address. Could you expect less than strangeness if you were living on Shadow Street?

In the opening, a drunken ex-Senator boards an elevator for his floor only to be whisked to a basement of terror. We're talking Buffy-style hell mouth.

Then Bailey Hawks, one of the protagonists, is menaced by a strange creature in the swimming pool, and retired attorney and Pembleton expert Silas Kinsley is awakened by a building tremor.

Odd voices are heard in apartments and hallways, and soon an assemblage of distinct Koontz characters are seeing Victorian-era people appearing from nowhere, more odd creepy crawlies and shimmers of blue electricity pulsing from ceilings and floors.

The Characters
Bailey, a financial advisor with a military background to give him heroic cred, almost takes a back seat to Shadow Street's eccentrics.

Mickey Dime is among the most notable, an assassin who's psychologically scarred by his upbringing. His mom was a rigid and stoic intellectual more focused on self aggrandizing than true philosophizing. You can speculate on who she might be based on. He's a bit like the villain from Koontz's The Husband, whose inspiration can also be a fun speculation game.

A novelist, a country songwriter, elderly female entrepreneurs, an autistic girl who communicates using the novel Bambi and a precocious young introvert round things out.

Their paces
Koontz keeps his band busy once the set-up is complete, and about mid-book answers begin to come as more devilish doings unfold.

To say more would really be unfair if you're going to pick this up, but I will note what you probably think's going on ain't what's going on. But then, if you're a Koontz reader, you'll know that.

With rumblings of Crichton and Vonnegut, the author delivers a page-turning and thrilling tale with a mask-off scene in the final pages that delivers the payoff. That makes up for perhaps just a bit of a fizzle in the climactic action. 

Overall, this is my favorite Koontz book since Life Expectancy. Koontz is a master story craftsman, and it's always fun to experience his latest effort.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tagged: 7-7-7

(I actually got tagged twice - drop by the blog of Robin Ashe also)

Jalisa Blackman (@J_M_Blackman) hit me with an interesting meme arrow on Twitter a little while ago. You've seen them before they're always interesting little experiments.

Here are the rules as I was given them:

1.) Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2.) Go to line 7.
3.) Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other victims, authors.

So, no cheating means no editing or tweaking, eh. OK, here goes. This is from a work in progress that's been in progress for a while, and I'm doing more research than writing on it at the moment. Still, it's what's at the forefront in the middle of here and now.

Those 7-7-7 coordinates within the 24,000 words I've written lead to a bit of dialogue that hopefully works as a snippet, though perhaps a little cryptically. This is roughly seven lines from Word:

“You could have stood up fa’ me a little more, couldn’t ya?”

“I tried to explain it was religious beliefs. My boss wouldn’t listen. Besides religious beliefs don’t justify theft.”

“I was going to get them blessed and bring them back, and besides it was for the good of the customers.”

“I told her that. I don’t know she doubted the `get them blessed’ part. It was the `bring them back’ she was questionin’.”

She stares at him for tense seconds, her eyes ablaze, her expression an angry mask. It melts in slow motion, like a time-lapse photograph, her shoulders and arms relaxing simultaneously.

“It’s a bygone,” she says. “I found a better job anyway.”

Now to try and tag some people who might be up for the game:
1. Natasha Oliver
2. Charles Gramlich
3. Icess Fernandez
4. Avery Debow
5. Stewart Sternberg
6. Kate Sterling
7. Larry Enright

Monday, March 12, 2012

What's on the iPod? - Gnelfs - A Dark Fantasy

My dark fantasy novel Gnelfs is now available as an audiobook. It's read by Derek Hames. If you have an Audible credit, spend it now.

For a taste of the tale of a single mother struggling to protect her daughter from spiritual attack, you can read the short story that grew into the novel here.

And, of course, the novel is available from Crossroad Press in ebook format wherever you buy ebooks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Got to talking e-book reading on different devices with a guy the other day.

Before the iPad or the Kindle, I used to read e-books using the Notes feature on my iPods. My iPod with video is still going, though the clock appears to be a little off.

There's a little more surface area for the text view on newer devices.

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