Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Velocity by Dean Koontz

I have no memory of reading anything else by Dean Koontz. I don't live under a rock, so obviously I have heard of Koontz. But I never had any occasion to read one of his books. Velocity was a free book I received at a book fair about two years ago. It has sat on my bookshelf since. I picked up the book half a dozen times and read the blurb on the back cover but put it back on my shelf, not in the least invested in the storyline.

Last week I needed a good quick read for the airplane. I wanted something I could finish and not feel compelled to bring back from vacation. The bright yellow cover of Velocity screamed out to me as the ideal book. It was the right book given the requirements.

After reading Velocity I have no need or desire to read anything else by Koontz. The book was not bad. It was undeniably engaging. I was happily invested in reading for my entire day of flying and waiting at the airport. I kept reading to figure out the mystery at the end of the book. It just did not fulfill my needs for a book - why would I want to read such an implausible, depressing, downer of a book?

The premise of Velocity is that a man, bartender Billy Wiles, gets a letter on his windshield telling him that if he goes to the cops an elderly woman who works with charities will be killed, if he doesn't go to the cops a beautiful second grade teacher will be killed - the choice is his. The story progresses with further letters and choices for Billy as the crimes fall closer and closer to home. Billy has to solve the mystery of who is writing the letters to save himself and the love of his life.

My problem with the book revolves around all the myriad completely unrealistic coincidences that are necessary to keep the plot moving forward. Billy Wiles has to be a lonesome, unconnected character for him to take the actions that he does. His fiancee suffers from the most arbitrary illness humanly possible. The murderer, while introduced early on, is divorced from the storyline in any consequential way.

Plus, there's enough distrust, death, and disturbing events in real life. Why read about horror in fiction (And yes, I am clearly labeling myself as a non-horror fan here)? If you're already a Koontz fan and haven't read Velocity you would probably enjoy this fast-paced mystery. But, if you like lighter reads, don't buy into suspension of disbelief, and don't want to read about pain and mutilation, I would suggest you pass on Velocity.