It's interesting that two of the best-selling authors of the past few years both have last names that start with K. Browse the K section of the bookstore or library and you'll find Dean Koontz's prolific output near that of another prolific writer whose last name starts with K, Stephen King. It's also interesting that both men write about simliar subjects--namely ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circusmtances and how the protagonists react to them.
Mitch Rafferty is an ordinary guy with a life he loves and is deeply, madly, passionately devoted to his wife Holley. As "The Husband" begins, Mitch's life seems just about perfect, but that perfect life is about to come crumbling down around him. Mitch receives a phone call from a mysterious man, saying he's kidnapped Holley and Mitch can have her back for two million dollars. Mitch is a gardner and doesn't even have close to that kind of money but the kidnappers don't care. They inform Mitch it's time to find a way or else Holley will meet an untimely demise at the end of 60 hours.
From there, events set in motion to draw Mitch into a desparate, frantic game to try and get his wife back safe and sound.
As with most of Dean Koontz's novels, the premise of "The Husband" is a promising one. But as with most of Koontz's latest offerings, the intriuging premise is stretched out beyond its welcome. What could have easily been a great short story or novella is, instead, stretched out to novel length and the book suffers for it.
And while Koontz shares the ordinary guy thurst into extraordinary circumstances theme with Stephen King, the big difference with a Koontz novel is the complete lack of style. Even though King novels deal with the same themes, the books are memorable with a voice and scenes that will linger in your memory long after the last page is turned. Not so with Koontz. His novels are filled with almost the same character ovre and over again. It's almost like Dragnet, where the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Mitch is of the same mold as other Koontz heroes, such as Odd Thomas. These are men who believe in the power of good over evil, making moral choices and who love their wives and/or families.
It tends to add up to this feeling of having read the book before, even if you know its now. Add to this that while Koontz tries to have some twists and turns along the way in the husband, it's nothing really all that new or differently used and you end up with the "been there, done that" kind of feeling that you get with, well, most of Koontz's work.
Koontz has some great premises. Looking at the cover that sums up the premise of the novel, there is a promise of a compelling, great story within. And for the first few chapters, the novel delivers. It's just in the other two thirds of the novel that things start to go astray and the novel never recovers. Yes, I cared if Mitch rescued Holley but toward the end I didn't care how or why.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/18/2006 07:18:00 PM