Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist"(Rolling Stone ) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human. Now he delivers the page-turner of the season, an unforgettable journey to the heart of darkness and to the pinnacle of grace, at once chilling and wickedly funny, a brilliantly observed chronicle of good and evil in our time, of illusion and everlasting truth.
He's Hollywood's most dazzling star, whose flawless countenance inspires the worship of millions and fires the hatred of one twisted soul. His perfectly ordered existence is under siege as a series of terrifying, enigmatic "messages" breaches the exquisitely calibrated security systems of his legendary Bel Air estate.
The boxes arrive mysteriously, one by one, at Channing Manheim's fortified compound. The threat implicit in their bizarre, disturbing contents seems to escalate with each new delivery. Manheim's security chief, ex-cop Ethan Truman, is used to looking beneath the surface of things. But until he entered the orbit of a Hollywood icon, he had no idea just how slippery reality could be. Now this good man is all that stands in the way of an
insidious killer--and forces that eclipse the most fevered fantasies of a city where dreams and nightmares are the stuff of daily life. As a seemingly endless and ominous rain falls over southern California, Ethan will test the limits of perception and endurance in a world where the truth is as thin as celluloid and answers can be found only in the illusory intersection of shadow and light.
Enter a world of marvelous invention, enchantment, and implacable intent, populated by murderous actors and the walking dead, hit men and heroes, long-buried dreams and never-dying hope.
Here a magnificent mansion is presided over by a Scottish force of nature known as Mrs. McBee, before whom all men tremble. A mad French chef concocts feasts for the mighty and the malicious. Ming du Lac, spiritual adviser to the stars, has a direct line to the dead. An aptly named cop called Hazard will become Ethan's ally, an anarchist will sow discord and despair, and a young boy named Fric, imprisoned by celebrity and loneliness, will hear a voice telling him of the approach of something unimaginably evil. Traversing this extraordinary landscape, Ethan will face the secrets of his own tragic past and the unmistakable premonition of his impending violent death as he races against time to solve the macabre riddles of a modern-day beast.
A riveting tour de force of suspense, mystery, and miraculous revelation, The Face is that rare novel that entertains, provokes, and uplifts at the same time. It will make you laugh. It will give you chills. It will fill you with hope.
From the Hardcover edition.
The final pages of Koontz's newest are uplifting enough to make Cain repent and Pilate weep. And there's much else in this novel to savor-and savor it readers must, because some of the book is slow going (it's also much too long). There's scarcely an author alive who, judging by his books, loves the English language more than Koontz; there's certainly no bestselling author of popular fiction who makes more use of figures of speech and whose sentences offer more musicality. That can be Koontz's weakness as well as strength, however. Koontz is also one of the great suspense authors, and when he's fashioned a particularly robust plot to carry his creative prose, as in last year's By the Light of the Moon, he's an Olympian. But when he stretches a thin story line beyond resilience, the language can overcome the narrative like kudzu vines. That happens here, despite the tale's grandeur and strong lines. The eponymous Face is the world's biggest movie star; he doesn't appear in the novel, but his smart, geeky 10-year-old son, Fric, takes center stage, as does Ethan Truman, cop-turned-security chief of the Face's elaborate estate and Fric's main human protector when one Corky Laputa, who's dedicated his life to anarchy, decides to sow further disorder by kidnapping this progeny of the world's idol. Fric's secondary protector was also human, a mobster, until he recently died and became Fric's (somewhat inept) guardian angel. Most of the narrative concerns Corky's abominations and Ethan and Fric's dawning awareness, via numerous uncanny events, of the unfolding horror. Koontz's characters are memorable and his unique mix of suspense and humor absorbing; but his overwriting-e.g., a chapter of about 2,000 words to describe Corky's coverup of a murder, when a sentence or two would have sufficed-make this worthy novel less than a dream. Still, great kudos to Koontz for creating, within the strictures of popular fiction, another notable novel of ideas and of moral imperatives.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 27, 2004
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Excerpt from The Face by Dean Koontz
After the apple had been cut in half, the halves had been sewn together with coarse black thread.
Ten bold stitches were uniformly spaced. Each knot had been tied with a surgeon's precision.
The variety of apple, a red delicious, might have significance. Considering that these messages had been delivered in the form of objects and images, never in words, every detail might refine the sender's meaning, as adjectives and punctuation refined prose.
More likely, however, this apple had been selected because it wasn't ripe. Softer flesh would have crumbled even if the needle had been used with care and if each stitch had been gently cinched.
Awaiting further examination, the apple stood on the desk in Ethan Truman's study. The black box in which the apple had been packed also stood on the desk, bristling with shredded black tissue paper. The box had already yielded what clues it contained: none.
Here in the west wing of the mansion, Ethan's ground-floor apartment was comprised of this study, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Tall French windows provided a clear view of nothing real.
The previous occupant would have called the study a living room and would have furnished the space accordingly. Ethan did too little living to devote an entire room to it.
With a digital camera, he had photographed the black box before opening it. He had also taken shots of the red delicious from three angles.
He assumed that the apple had been sliced open in order to allow for the insertion of an object into the core. He was reluctant to snip the stitches and to take a look at what might lie within.
Years as a homicide detective had hardened him in some respects. In other ways, too much experience of extreme violence had made him vulnerable.
He was only thirty-seven, but his police career was over. His instincts remained sharp, however, and his darkest expectations were undiminished.
A sough of wind insisted at the French panes. A soft tapping of blown rain.
The languid storm gave him excuse enough to leave the apple waiting and to step to the nearest window.
Frames, jambs, rails, muntins--every feature of every window in the great house had been crafted in bronze. Exposure to the elements promoted a handsome mottled-green patina on exterior surfaces. Inside, diligent maintenance kept the bronze a dark ruby-brown.
The glass in each pane was beveled at every edge. Even in the humblest of service rooms--the scullery, the ground-floor laundry--beveling had been specified.
Although the residence had been built for a film mogul during the last years of the Great Depression, no evidence of a construction budget could be seen anywhere from the entrance foyer to the farthest corner of the last back hall.
When steel sagged, when clothes grew moth-eaten on haberdashery racks, when cars rusted on showroom floors for want of customers, the film industry nevertheless flourished. In bad times as in good, the only two absolute necessities were food and illusions.
From the tall study windows, the view appeared to be a painting of the kind employed in motion-picture matte shots: an exquisitely rendered dimensional scene that, through the deceiving eye of the camera, could serve convincingly as a landscape on an alien planet or as a place on this world perfected as reality never allowed.
Greener than Eden's fields, acres of lawn rolled away from the house, without one weed or blade of blight. The majestic crowns of immense California live oaks and the drooping boughs of melancholy deodar cedars, each a classic specimen, were silvered and diamonded by the December drizzle.
Through skeins of rain as fine as angel hair, Ethan could see, in the distance, the final curve of the driveway. The gray-green quartzite cobblestones, polished to a sterling standard by the rain, led to the ornamental bronze gate in the estate wall.