A catastrophic, unexplainable plane crash leaves three hundred and thirty dead -- no survivors. Among the victims are the wife and two daughters of Joe Carpenter, a Los Angeles Post crime reporter.
A year after the crash, still gripped by an almost paralyzing grief, Joe encounters a woman named Rose, who claims to have survived the crash. She holds out the possibility of a secret that will bring Joe peace of mind. But before he can ask any questions, she slips away.
Driven now by rage (have the authorities withheld information?) and a hope almost as unbearable as his grief (if there is one survivor, are there others?), Joe sets out to find the mysterious woman. His search immediately leads him into the path of a powerful and shadowy organization hell-bent on stopping Rose before she can reveal what she knows about the crash.
Sole Survivor unfolds at a heart-stopping pace, as a desperate chase and a shattering emotional odyssey lead Joe to a truth that will force him to reassess everything he thought he knew about life and death -- a truth that, given the chance, will rock the world and redefine the destiny of humanity.
Koontz's last thriller, Intensity, delivered shocks like a stripped hot wire. Here, the insulation-the preaching about societal rot and spiritual redemption-is back on, thicker than ever. And that's too bad, because this tale is emblematic of how, in 15 years of bestsellers, Koontz has bridged the commercial gap between the occultism of Stephen King and the scientism of Michael Crichton. Like Crichton's Airframe (also from Knopf; Forecasts, Nov. 11), this novel focuses on the aftermath of an airline disaster, a crash that has apparently killed all on board and has ravaged the soul of L.A. crime reporter Joe Carpenter. A year after the crash, Joe, who lost his wife and two daughters, is a walking dead man. A visit to their graves wrenches his life around when he spots a black woman taking photos of the site and sees her set upon by thugs. Incredible events follow. Joe witnesses relatives of the crash victims commit senseless suicide, learns that the woman, a genetic scientist, was on the plane but miraculously survived, finds out that she is the quarry of a military-industrial cabal and gains hope that one of his daughters also may have survived. The secret behind the mayhem, which is delivered at breakneck speed, concerns a "scientific" breakthrough into "mystical" truth that Koontz presents like an absentminded professor. But if his science his bad, his soapboxing is worse-a merciless rant against moral turpitude-and his prose is ripe to the point of decay. Has Koontz ever met an adjective or adverb, metaphor or simile, that he hasn't liked? His sympathetic characters drown in the overwriting; his uplifting sentiments wither under the finger-wagging. Driven by author name, marketing and theme, this will sell big, but the sole survivor won't be the reader. 600,000 first printing; major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection; simultaneous Random House audio and large print edition; author tour. (Feb.) Copyright (c) 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Not as intense
Posted November 22, 2010 by P Stoppkotte , OHIOI have been reading Dean Koontz for decades and thoroughly enjoy his novels. I thought this one was not as intense as his usual offerings. I was not treated to any nail-biting, heart-pounding, "I can't read fast enough" chase scenes in this novel (not like the killer chase scene in "Dark Rivers of the Heart"-WOW!!!!). However, I did appreciate the spiritual aspect of this story.
2 . My first book by Dean Koontz
Posted December 15, 2009 by Dave , Wadsworth, ILThis, One Door Away From Heaven, and The Darkest Evening of the Year are my favorite Dean Koontz books. I picked up a paperback copy of this one in a waiting area and was hooked. I've read at least thirty of his books since and would give each at least four stars, if not five.
April 02, 2000
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Excerpt from Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz
Later Saturday morning, driving to Santa Monica, Joe Carpenter suffered an anxiety attack. His chest tightened, and he was able to draw breath only with effort. When he lifted one hand from the wheel, his fingers quivered like those of a palsied old man.
He was overcome by a sense of falling, as from a great height, as though his Honda had driven off the freeway into an inexplicable and bottomless abyss. The pavement stretched unbroken ahead of him, and the tires sang against the blacktop, but he could not reason himself back to a perception of stability.
Indeed, the plummeting sensation grew so severe and terrifying that he took his foot off the accelerator and tapped the brake pedal.
Horns blared and skidding tires squealed as traffic adjusted to his sudden deceleration. As cars and trucks swept past the Honda, the drivers glared murderously at Joe or mouthed offensive words or made obscene gestures. This was Greater Los Angeles in an age of change, crackling with the energy of doom, yearning for the Apocalypse, where an unintended slight or an inadvertent trespass on someone else's turf might result in a thermonuclear response.
His sense of falling did not abate. His stomach turned over as if he were aboard a roller coaster, plunging along a precipitous length of track. Although he was alone in the car, he heard the screams of passengers, faint at first and then louder, not the good-humored shrieks of thrill seekers at an amusement park, but cries of genuine anguish.
As though from a distance, he listened to himself whispering, "No, no, no, no."
A brief gap in traffic allowed him to angle the Honda off the pavement. The shoulder of the freeway was narrow. He stopped as close as possible to the guardrail, over which lush oleander bushes loomed like a great cresting green tide.
He put the car in Park but didn't switch off the engine. Even though he was sheathed in cold sweat, he needed the chill blasts of air conditioning to be able to breathe. The pressure on his chest increased. Each stuttering inhalation was a struggle, and each hot exhalation burst from him with an explosive wheeze.
Although the air in the Honda was clear, Joe smelled smoke. He tasted it too: the acrid mýlange of burning oil, melting plastic, smoldering vinyl, scorched metal.
When he glanced at the dense clusters of leaves and the deep-red flowers of the oleander pressing against the windows on the passenger side, his imagination morphed them into billowing clouds of greasy smoke. The window became a rectangular porthole with rounded corners and thick dual-pane glass.
Joe might have thought he was losing his mind--if he hadn't suffered similar anxiety attacks during the past year. Although sometimes as much as two weeks passed between episodes, he often endured as many as three in one day, each lasting between ten minutes and half an hour.
He had seen a therapist. The counseling had not helped.
His doctor recommended anti-anxiety medication. He rejected the prescription. He wanted to feel the pain. It was all he had.
Closing his eyes, covering his face with his icy hands, he strove to regain control of himself, but the catastrophe continued to unfold around him. The sense of falling intensified. The smell of smoke thickened. The screams of phantom passengers grew louder.
Everything shook. The floor beneath his feet. The cabin walls. The ceiling. Horrendous rattling and twanging and banging and gong-like clanging accompanied the shaking, shaking, shaking.
"Please," he pleaded.