Friday, January 11, 2008

The Good Guy

You know what helps to get someone back into reading? I mean besides no internet access. That’s a given.

What I need is A. Really. Good. Book. Something that will pick me up, throw me over its shoulder and say caveman-style, “Hold on, woman. We go on adventure. Make you not stop reading til end.”

Did I find one that tossed me like a ragdoll? Oh boy did I! The Good Guy by Dean Koontz is a great ride all the way.

Koontz happens to be one of my favorite authors. Odd Thomas (and series), Lightning, Life Expectancy, Fear Nothing, Watchers: These books (and others) keep me coming back for more. More suspense. More heart-pounding scenarios. More extremely likable characters. More excellent bantering between them. All of it makes me pick up his books because I know that I’m going to be satisfied after reading one of his books.

This time was no exception. How does this scenario grab you?

A guy walks into a bar.

No Wait! It’s not a joke! It’s really how the scenario begins. Come back!

Thanks. (Whew.)

Let me rephrase it: “Good Guy” Tim Carrier is sitting in a bar. He’s a regular there because his longtime friends own it. It’s his home away from home only because he knows it’s a place where he’s welcomed, appreciated, loved. Another guy walks into the same bar, and suddenly Tim finds his ordinary, unnoticed life interrupted by a bizarre conversation, during which he's handed an envelope full of money and kill instructions intended for a contract killer. Confused, Tim watches as the man leaves... only to be replaced, minutes later, by the real hit man. Removing the target's photograph and address from the envelope, Tim attempts to call off the kill by posing as the “buyer” and telling the assassin that the deal is off, the killer is to keep the money as a courtesy and he is to ignore the murder request. Not wanting anyone to get hurt, he sets out to warn the intended victim – Linda Pacquette – and to keep himself alive because he knows that after deceiving the man who gave off the vibes of evil in an expensive suit, he had put himself on the killer’s to-do list.

What follows is a classic cat-and-mouse chase/thriller. Tim and Linda must use all of their stamina, experiences and intelligence to stay barely one step ahead of the arrogant, all-knowing assassin; he seems to almost magically anticipate Tim and Linda's every move. To add to the suspense, Linda can think of no reason why she is a target for a contract killing. She has no known enemies, and she lives her quiet life as a writer, with a love for most things from the Golden Age and her 1939 Ford.

Koontz is exceptional at driving a story, giving just enough information to confuse you, yet laces with enough hope and intrigue to make you keep turning the pages. As an aside, this storyline involves no supernatural plot and no “gifted” characters. It’s good vs. evil. It’s smarts-against-smarts, with organized help on one side and fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants help on the other.

The writing is excellent, very original and detailed without being dry or overbearing. The characters are full of life and vibrancy, while appearing real and like the “person-next-door”. The humorous banter that a reader comes to expect from the mind of Koontz is top-notch. Of course, I love quirky relationships. Just look at Mr. Right and me. Enough said on that matter.

If you’re looking for a fabulous read from a gifted author, I highly recommend The Good Guy. It’s an energetic read that may just pump some much needed blood into your reading life. Oh, and I love that Linda is named Linda because the real Linda Pacquette won the honor of having a character named after her in an auction benefiting Canine Companions for Independence. I’m just so glad for her that he chose to make her one of the good guys. Knowing Koontz, he could have done all sorts of fun or wacky things with a character by that name!

How did you do yesterday? What did you read? Were you in withdrawal or were you like me reading a few blogs on the sly?

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