The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz

(No Series)

A brutal killer known as “The Butcher” is stalking women in New York City. When the police enlist in the help of clairvoyant Graham Harris, the horrifying images of the Butcher’s crimes replay in Harris’s mind - sometimes even at the moment they are happening. Then he sees the most terrifying vision of all - that of his own murder.

Harris and his girlfriend find themselves trapped on the fortieth floor of a deserted office building. The guards have been murdered, the elevators shut down, and the stairways blocked. The only way out is to climb down the sheer face of the building. But there is a blizzard outside with fifty-mile-an-hour winds - and a dangerous fall from Mount Everest has left Harris paralyzed with fear. He must risk the climb - or become the Butcher’s next victim…

When I read the back of this book to someone, once we reached, “and there’s a blizzard outside, they laughed and said, “Oh, of course.”

The plot may sound interesting but nothing like Koontz’s usual work. Instead it more or less mimics simple lifetime thrillers we’ve all seen over and over again. A generic plot without much else to offer, with strange coincidences that are a bit more cheesy than realistic. And this is only from the description…

I was interested in reading about the clairvoyant and at the beginning of the book it was paying off. Graham came across as interesting, with unique powers that weren’t typical to other books I’ve read, and the interview with the host was a blast. But after the first few scenes, the book begins to get a bit too much, and throughout this review I’ll touch upon the stepping stones that explain why.

The atmosphere was tense, of course, but this actually worked against it. The tension began much too soon, but never let up! From the beginning of the novel to the end we have the two protagonists battling the same chances for over a hundred pages. After all this is constantly whirling around, the tension loosens as it just grows tiring.

Graham came across as a likeable character and as I mentioned above, his visions were unique. As the story further unravels, however, I found that he was a bit weak. His girlfriend, Connie, was a sweet gal but her reactions towards having to take care of Graham got on my nerves a bit. This is a realistic response some women have -- drifting toward some relationships just to save men that need saving -- and it was definitely different to have these two in the main shoes the reader walks in. The detective, Preduski, was hysterical and wonderfully animated. He was by far my favorite character. The antagonist was cold all the way through but not much detail was given on why he became this way. That’s fine, I didn’t need drawn out blueprints on his personality, but while he wasn’t anything ‘bad’, he never stands out either.

Quick and smooth at the beginning, The Face of Fear eventually becomes overly tense without letting up towards the middle. The pace itself was fine but I wish it would have been cut at least thirty pages to allow me to breathe. Koontz’s writing style is always captivating. It can never be said the man doesn’t have a gift with wording and prose, only here it’s a little bit buried under all the ‘stereotypical blizzard snow.’

The villain isn’t anything that’s worth making a scrapbook about and that hurts the impact. I did care about the characters, though, and wanted them to make it. Connie and Graham both rang true in their actions, although their personalities were dysfunctional. The tension was great at first, but after awhile, everything runs out of gas.

I wish that Koontz would have realized that was enough was enough and saved this one while he still could have. It just droned on a bit to much and ended up slitting it’s own throat before the final scene was played out.

   Book Quotes:

“Pure, hard-core liberals believe in a superior race. They think they're it. They believe they're more intelligent than the general run of mankind, better suited than the little people are to manage the little people's lives. They think they have the one true vision, the ability to solve all the moral dilemmas of the century. They prefer big government because that is the first step to totalitarianism, toward unquestioned rule by the elite. And of course they see themselves as the elite.”

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