In BREATHLESS, Dean Koontz shows his fans why he is such a
brilliant storyteller. His imagination moves even the stoic
naysayer, and his exploration of the paranormal is a literary event
in itself in this tale that weaves together many seemingly
unrelated stories of terror, hardship and agony.
BREATHLESS begins in rural Colorado with an unassuming character
named Grady Adams and his dog, Merlin. An enormous Irish wolfhound,
Merlin established superiority in his domain by his size alone,
notwithstanding his gentle nature. Today, the man and his canine
friend stroll at the edge of Grady’s property into the nearby
woods. Both suddenly halt, thunderstruck by the sight directly
ahead. They witness two white furry animals the size of medium dogs
but agile as large cats. Playful, the two allow man and dog to
approach, then turn away and head to the forest.
Adams and his longtime friend and neighbor, Cammy Rivers, are
enchanted with Merlin’s new-found playmates as the white
creatures now make Grady’s place their home. But sinister
events shake up the fragile status quo when outside influences
assert a nasty presence.
Rivers, who is a veterinarian, also has her own tale when she is
called to treat a kennel of abused golden retrievers. The dogs,
catatonic when brought in by a rescue group, will be a challenge to
heal. However, when Cammy arrives, an event has occurred that
cannot be explained by medicine. The dogs stand as one unit as if
listening to a common, emerging sound, no longer timid and
completely socialized. In addition, their eyes glow with a bright
topaz inner light, and this inexplicable event may just spell
certain doom for the small town.
Koontz writes a third story also set in Colorado, that of rural
resident James Carlyle, wife Nora, and identical twin brother Henry
Rouvroy. Henry, a Harvard-educated savant, arrives at Jim’s
farm, bent on executing a plan he has long developed. Country
poems, Jim’s haiku verses in particular, foreshadow the agony
his twin brings to the humble farm.
A scenario in Las Vegas introduces Dr. Lamar Woolsey, a
scientist studying chaos. Taking small bets to major wins at the
Vegas tables, this card shark gifts his winnings to others,
puzzling the pit bosses. A conference in Denver forces him to leave
Vegas, but along the way his attentions are quickly diverted to a
U.S. government project that just may have something to do with the
strange occurrences in the once quiet Colorado town.
Koontz then takes us a little more west to California for the
starting point of Tom Bigger’s story. Bigger is a homeless
man, his face horribly disfigured and living on the beach in
sheltered caves. When a great blue heron nearly five feet tall
brushes past him, he sees the event as a sign for his future and
sets out walking with his backpack on a journey east to a future
Readers will long to discover the common thread that winds
through these seemingly disparate stories. Although it appears
unlikely at first, Koontz is able to satisfy his audience by
presenting a believable connection that brings all these stories
together for an enjoyable --- and plausible --- conclusion.
BREATHLESS is a modern story, one of relationships gone wrong and
ones made right, the possibility of government interference in a
citizen’s life, struggles for acceptance and ultimate wonder
at the unexplainable. Koontz truly leaves his reader breathless by
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 23, 2010