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Ashley Bell


Ashley Bell

If a review could be summed up in one word to describe Dean Koontz’s latest (and perhaps best) novel, it would be “delicious.” That was the first word that came to mind as I closed the cover of ASHLEY BELL at 2:30am. When a story grabs you on page one and keeps you enthralled with ever-widening loops of intrigue, spine-tingling plot twists, absorbing characters and emotional involvement, it is akin to sitting back after a satisfying gourmet meal, feeling that you have savored something extraordinary.

Bibi Blair is a budding young Southern California author who has been a compulsive writer since she was a child. Her imagination knows no bounds, and as a champion surfer girl, she doesn’t flinch when faced with danger. When she is suddenly confronted with the greatest challenge of her young life, she sets out to save the life of a stranger named Ashley Bell. ASHLEY BELL is a novel of good versus evil, love, loss, healing and resurrection. It offers a tantalizingly personal insight into the mind of an author. It is there that I must draw a line, because to say more will make me a perpetrator of a reviewer’s greatest crime --- the dreaded spoiler. 

"If a review could be summed up in one word to describe Dean Koontz’s latest (and perhaps best) novel, it would be 'delicious.' That was the first word that came to mind as I closed the cover of ASHLEY BELL at 2:30am."

I was first introduced to Koontz’s writing in the ’90s when fellow readers were engaged in a lively debate during a Bookacinno chat about a recent release. Koontz was at the height of his writing powers, but debate swirled around his being equated with Stephen King for “cranking out” book after book. Many of his bestselling thrillers were under discussion that day, but I was out of the loop as I had yet to read him. One of the readers recommended that WATCHERS was a good introduction to turn me into a Koontz fan, and I have recommended it to many fellow booklovers who have doubts about the genre. If you’ve ever read that extraordinary journey into the universe of thriller fiction, you will understand why I was led to seek other Koontz titles. I immediately followed up with DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART, another recommendation, and that sealed the deal.

I’ve since read many others. Some were so terrifying (“intensity” comes to mind”) that I swore off him for a couple of years, but was drawn back by others. Koontz, like King, writes like a man possessed. Both authors seem to have stories within them that they absolutely must tell. Some are great, some not-so-great, but when either of them strikes the right chord, you know you are in the company of pure inspiration. Needless to say, both these masters of the suspense/thriller genre have created memorable titles and characters --- the mark of a true master.

Koontz recently returned to the top of the bestseller list with the Odd Thomas series. I predict that Bibi; her surfer buddy, Pogo; and Paxton, her Navy SEAL fiancée will become some of his most memorable characters.

Does ASHLEY BELL explore those mysterious doorways to memory that Koontz himself travels in his darkest moments? To quote Koontz himself, the book “is a story about memory, about how our lives are shaped by memories of those experiences that traumatize or inspire us, but also by those things we forget and should not… [It is] about deception and self-deception, about truths that are right before our eyes but that, for a variety of reasons, we fail to see. This is a novel about family, friendship, and love, about the value of community and the strength we draw from one another in those darkest moments of our lives.”

Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 10, 2015

Ashley Bell
by Dean Koontz