on December 14, 2000
I liked 'Chase.' It was read quite well by the narrator and you do start to feel much empathy for Ben Chase, who is a young, struggling Vietnam hero who is feeling anything but heroic. As Ben drinks whiskey and eats apples in the solitary of his apartment day by day, the reader is right there with him, sipping along, staring at the bare, white walls of his drab one-room studio apartment. He is miserably content in his solitude, only venturing out to see his psychiatrist. But then he witnesses the murder of a young man, and his protective shell begins to be chipped away -- and not always by the right people and circumstances. The true identity of the stalker/murderer is hidden well throughout the book; I did not begin to figure it out until toward the end. Another plus to this book is that Ben Chase is a modern, Shakespearan tragic hero with an evolving tragic flaw that the reader discovers as the book goes along.
On a negative note for 'Chase,' I felt Ben's love interest needed more character development; it's like she's just thrown in there suddenly. The book goes rather slow at times, and I found myself wondering if an abridged version might have been better. Also, this might just be a personal thing, but I had different expectations for what type of person the killer would be, so it was a strange ending and resolution at the end for me. But perhaps that adds to the mystique of the book, and you yourself might like that.
Now, as for the short story, "Down in the Darkness," I loved it so much that I listened to it twice so I, the second time around, could hear those subtley wound clues a virgin listen may have missed. The story from the very beginning grabs your attention and holds on tight until the end. Just what is the story behind the disappearing cellar in this new house? And what is down there? These are the questions you'll be urgently asking yourself as you explore the cellar with 'Jes.' The sights, smells and anxious but curious horror that Jes feels truly come to life. And the end will lead you on a path of self-introspection that makes you question your own motives and feelings at times. This short story is a concise work of art -- not too long, not too short -- your daily dose of Koontz at his best. Needless to say, I highly recommend it, and while I give 'Chase' a 4, I give this short story a 5++!