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Starred Review. Bestseller Koontz (The Husband) delivers a thriller so compelling many readers will race through the book in one sitting. In the Hitchcockian opening, which resembles that of the cult noir film Red Rock West (1992), Timothy Carrier, a quiet stone mason having a beer in a California bar, meets a stranger who mistakes him for a hit man. The stranger slips Tim a manila envelope containing $10,000 in cash and a photo of the intended victim, Linda Paquette, a writer in Laguna Beach, then leaves. A moment later, Krait, the real killer, shows up and assumes Tim is his client. Tim manages to distract Krait from immediately carrying out the hit by saying he's had a change of heart and offering Krait the $10,000 he just received. This ploy gives the stone mason enough time to warn Linda before they begin a frantic flight for their lives. While it may be a stretch that the first man wouldn't do a better job of confirming Tim's identity, the novel's breathless pacing, clever twists and adroit characterizations all add up to superior entertainment.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Big Tim Carrier maintains the lowest possible profile, but that tactic crumbles after he is mistaken for a hit man, and when the hit man arrives, poses as the client and tries to cancel. But no one aborts this guy's missions. Tim rushes to shield the prospective victim, writer Linda Paquette, and it soon becomes obvious that the killer has access to every auto-, phone-, and credit-tracing device known to law enforcement (is he a cop?). Moreover, he somehow can pressure law enforcement to be unhelpful, as Tim and Linda discover when Tim's police friend Pete Santo is warned off so firmly that he joins Tim and Linda on the run. For most of its length, this is white-knuckle suspense as gripping as any Koontz has ever written, and the principals all have intriguing backstories that are eventually, with the frustrating exception of the killer's, fully disclosed. Yet the climax and the denouement seem half-baked and perfunctory. This is, however, as politically passionate and common-guy witty as his other, better recent books. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.