With his bestselling blend of nail-biting intensity, daring artistry, and storytelling magic, Dean Koontz returns with an emotional roller coaster of a tale filled with enough twists, turns, shocks, and surprises for ten ordinary novels. Here is the story of five days in the life of an ordinary man born to an extraordinary legacy--a story that will challenge the way you look at good and evil, life and death, and everything in between.
Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. As a violent storm rages outside the hospital, Rudy Tock spends long hours walking the corridors between the expectant fathers' waiting room and his dying father's bedside. It's a strange vigil made all the stranger when, at the very height of the storm's fury, Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the frist and last time since his stroke.
What he says before he dies is that there will be five dark days in the life of his grandson--five dates whose terrible events Jimmy will have to prepare himself to face. The first is to occur in his twentieth year; the second in his twent-third year; the third in his twenty-eighth; the fourth in his twenty-ninth; the fifth in his thirtieth.
Rudy is all too ready to discount his father's last words as a dying man's delusional rambling. But then he discovers that Josef also predicted the time of his grandson's birth to the minute, as well as his exact height and weight, and the fact that Jimmy would be born with syndactyly--the unexplained anomal of fused digits--on his left foot. Suddenly the old man's predictions take on a chilling significance.
What terrifying events await Jimmy on these five dark days? What nightmares will he face? What challenges must he survive? As the novel unfolds, picking up Jimmy's story at each of these crisis points, the path he must follow will defy every expectation. And with each crisis he faces, he will move closer to a fate he could never have imagined. For who Jimmy Tock is and what he must accomplish on the five days when his world turns is a mystery as dangerous as it is wondrous--a struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive, only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.
Of all bestselling authors, Koontz may be the most underestimated by the literary establishment. Book after book, year after year, this author climbs to the top of the charts. Why? His readers know: because he is a master storyteller and a daring writer, and because, in his novels, he gives readers bright hope in a dark world. His new book is an examplar of his extraordinary work. Suspense is difficult to sustain; suspense that's buoyed steadily by humor, even as it deals with the most desperate of circumstances, is nearly impossible--yet Koontz manages it here. As in last year's brilliant Odd Thomas, Koontz writes again in the first person, employing a cleaner, more instantly accessible line than in some of his other work (e.g., this year's The Taking). His narrator is Jimmy Tock, a pastry chef in a Colorado resort town. On the day he was born, Jimmy's dying grandfather predicted five future dates that would be terrible for Jimmy; he might have mentioned, but didn't, the birth day itself, which sees a mass slaying by a bitter, deranged circus clown in the hospital where Jimmy is born. The bulk of the narrative concerns the first terrible day, about 20 years later, when the vengeful son of that clown takes Jimmy and a lovely young woman, Lorrie Hicks, hostage in the local library, with an eye toward destroying the town; Jimmy and the woman live to marry, but will they and their family survive the four subsequent terrible days? Like most of Koontz's novels, this one pits good versus evil and carries a persuasive spiritual message, about the power of love and family and the miracle of existence. As such it deals with serious, perennial themes, yet with its steady drizzle of jokes and witty repartee, it does so with a lightness of touch that few other authors can match. Koontz is a true original and this novel, one of his most unusual yet, will leave readers aglow and be a major bestseller. If the literary establishment would only catch on to him, it might be an award-winner too.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-3 of the 3 most recent reviews
1 . One of the best
Posted August 29, 2012 by Emilia , Pinellas ParkI will not go into the story as many who have reviewed ahead of me will give you the idea. I am a Koontz fan and read his books although some of them are not particularly likeable. I really liked this one. I think it moved quickly, was understandable and to the point. I really enjoyed those touches of humor - some of which made me laugh out loud. I loved the ending - it was different and brought the whole book to a great conclusion. It's a good recreational read. I recommend it!
2 . One of my Favorites
Posted September 02, 2011 by Katie , LafayetteI have read this book several times. Some of it is unrealistic of course, but I find it funny and it is a quick read. It is one of those books where I would like to know what happens next!
3 . Great characters, great read
Posted December 20, 2008 by Kalli , Apex, NCAfter reading Odd Thomas, also by Dean Koontz, I was disappointed by some of his less distinctive protagonists and their respective dramatic situations. Any doubts I may have had about Koontz and his characterization abilities, however, were abolished before the second chapter of this novel came to a close. Jimmy Tock is entertainingly off key from the very start. His descriptions of himself and his life situation are enlightening but not overbearing, with the right amounts of emphasis on important events and amazing foreshadowing. The novel itself also lives up to the high standards its protagonist sets. Gloriously absurd, in a way that the reader can appreciate. If you are a Koontz fan, this is a must-read.
October 24, 2005
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Excerpt from Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
On the night that I was born, my paternal grand-father, Josef Tock, made ten predictions that shaped my life. Then he died in the very minute that my mother gave birth to me.
Josef had never previously engaged in fortune-telling. He was a pastry chef. He made eclairs and lemon tarts, not predictions.
Some lives, conducted with grace, are beautiful arcs bridging this world to eternity. I am thirty years old and can't for certain see the course of my life, but rather than a graceful arc, my passage seems to be a herky-jerky line from one crisis to another.
I am a lummox, by which I do not mean stupid, only that I am biggish for my size and not always aware of where my feet are going.
This truth is not offered in a spirit of self-deprecation or even humility. Apparently, being a lummox is part of my charm, an almost winsome trait, as you will see.
No doubt I have now raised in your mind the question of what I intend to imply by "biggish for my size." Autobiography is proving to be a trickier task than I first imagined.
I am not as tall as people seem to think I am, in fact not tall at all by the standards of professional--or even of high school--basketball. I am neither plump nor as buff as an iron-pumping fitness fanatic. At most I am somewhat husky.
Yet men taller and heavier than I am often call me "big guy." My nickname in school was Moose. From childhood, I have heard people joke about how astronomical our grocery bills must be.
The disconnect between my true size and many people's perception of my dimensions has always mystified me.
My wife, who is the linchpin of my life, claims that I have a presence much bigger than my physique. She says that people measure me by the impression I make on them.
I find this notion ludicrous. It is bullshit born of love.
If sometimes I make an outsized impression on people, it's as likely as not because I fell on them. Or stepped on their feet.
In Arizona, there is a place where a dropped ball appears to roll uphill in defiance of gravity. In truth, this effect is a trick of perspective in which elements of a highly unusual landscape conspire to deceive the eye.
I suspect I am a similar freak of nature. Perhaps light reflects oddly from me or bends around me in a singular fashion, so I appear to be more of a hulk than I am.
On the night I was born in Snow County Hospital, in the community of Snow Village, Colorado, my grandfather told a nurse that I would be twenty inches long and weigh eight pounds ten ounces.
The nurse was startled by this prediction not because eight pounds ten is a huge newborn--many are larger--and not because my grandfather was a pastry chef who suddenly began acting as though he were a crystal-ball gazer. Four days previously he had suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak; yet from his bed in the intensive care unit, he began making prognostications in a clear voice, without slur or hesitation.
He also told her that I would be born at 10:46 p.m. and that I would suffer from syndactyly.
That is a word difficult to pronounce before a stroke, let alone after one.
Syndactyly--as the observing nurse explained to my father--is a congenital defect in which two or more fingers or toes are joined. In serious cases, the bones of adjacent digits are fused to such an extent that two fingers share a single nail.
Multiple surgeries are required to correct such a condition and to ensure that the afflicted child will grow into an adult capable of giving the F-you finger to anyone who sufficiently annoys him.
In my case, the trouble was toes. Two were fused on the left foot, three on the right.
My mother, Madelaine--whom my father affectionately calls Maddy or sometimes the Mad One--insists that they considered forgoing the surgery and, instead, christening me Flipper.