Dean Koontz's unique talent for writing terrifying thrillers with a heart and soul is nowhere more evident than in this latest suspense masterpiece that pits one man against the ultimate deadline. If there were speed limits for the sheer pulse-racing excitement allowed in one novel, Velocity would break them all. Get ready for the ride of your life....
Bill Wile is an easygoing, hardworking guy who leads a quiet, ordinary life. But that is about to change. One evening, after his usual eight-hour bartending shift, he finds a typewritten note under the windshield wiper of his car. If you don't take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.
It seems like a sick joke, and Bill's friend on the police force, Lanny Olson, thinks so too. His advice to Bill is to go home and forget about it. Besides, what could they do even if they took the note seriously? No crime has actually been committed. But less than twenty-four hours later, a young blond schoolteacher is found murdered, and it's Bill's fault: he didn't convince the police
to get involved. Now he's got another note, another deadline, another ultimatum...and two new lives hanging in the balance.
Suddenly Bill's average, seemingly innocuous life takes on the dimensions and speed of an accelerating nightmare. Because the notes are coming faster, the deadlines growing tighter, and the killer becoming bolder and crueler with every communication-until Bill is isolated with the terrifying knowledge that he alone has the power of life and death over a psychopath's innocent victims. Until the struggle between good and evil is intensely personal. Until the most chilling words of all are: The choice is yours.
Part of the "Page Turners for Travelers" Collection
A diabolic killer plays a harrowing game of cat and mouse with a reclusive bartender in Koontz's latest gripping suspense thriller. Billy Wiles, a 30-something bartender and former writer, is content with his solitary Napa County existence listening to "beer-based psychoanalysis" from tavern regulars; visiting his hospitalized, comatose fiancee, Barbara; and carving wood sculptures. But the simple life gets mighty complicated when he finds a note with a deadly, time-sensitive ultimatum: he must choose between the death of a young schoolteacher or an elderly humanitarian in six hours. Reluctant local sheriff Lanny Olsen dismisses it as a joke until a comely teacher is found strangled and another threatening note appears--offering even less time for Billy to decide the fate of two more people. Who would have guessed that one of those people would be Olsen? After his friend's murder, Billy finds that the cunning killer has gained access to every aspect of his life as the ultimatums grow increasingly more personal. Suppressing horrific childhood memories, Billy scrambles to bury grisly incriminating evidence the murderer has deviously planted. More gruesome deaths and shaky suspicions trap Billy right in the demented killer's lair for just the beginning of Koontz's serpentine showdown. Graphic, fast-paced action, well-developed characters and relentless, nail-biting scenes show Koontz at the top of his game. (May 24)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 23, 2006
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Excerpt from Velocity by Dean Koontz
The Choice is Yours
With draft beer and a smile, Ned Pearsall raised a toast to his deceased neighbor, Henry Friddle, whose death greatly pleased him.
Henry had been killed by a garden gnome. He had fallen off the roof of his two-story house, onto that cheerful-looking figure. The gnome was made of concrete. Henry wasn't.
A broken neck, a cracked skull: Henry perished on impact.
This death-by-gnome had occurred four years previously. Ned Pearsall still toasted Henry's passing at least once a week.
Now, from a stool near the curve of the polished mahogany bar, an out-of-towner, the only other customer, expressed curiosity at the enduring nature of Ned's animosity.
"How bad a neighbor could the poor guy have been that you're still so juiced about him?"
Ordinarily, Ned might have ignored the question. He had even less use for tourists than he did for pretzels.
The tavern offered free bowls of pretzels because they were cheap. Ned preferred to sustain his thirst with well-salted peanuts. To keep Ned tipping, Billy Wiles, tending bar, occasionally gave him a bag of Planters.
Most of the time Ned had to pay for his nuts. This rankled him either because he could not grasp the economic realities of tavern operation or because he enjoyed being rankled, probably the latter.
Although he had a head reminiscent of a squash ball and the heavy rounded shoulders of a sumo wrestler, Ned was an athletic man only if you thought barroom jabber and grudge-holding qualified as sports. In those events, he was an Olympian.
Regarding the late Henry Friddle, Ned could be as talkative with outsiders as with lifelong residents of Vineyard Hills. When, as now, the only other customer was a stranger, Ned found silence even less congenial than conversation with a "foreign devil."
Billy himself had never been much of a talker, never one of those barkeeps who considered the bar a stage. He was a listener.
To the out-of-towner, Ned declared, "Henry Friddle was a pig."
The stranger had hair as black as coal dust with traces of ash at the temples, gray eyes bright with dry amusement, and a softly resonant voice. "That's a strong word--pig."
"You know what the pervert was doing on his roof? He was trying to piss on my dining-room windows."
Wiping the bar, Billy Wiles didn't even glance at the tourist. He'd heard this story so often that he knew all the reactions to it.
"Friddle, the pig, figured the altitude would give his stream more distance," Ned explained.
The stranger said, "What was he--an aeronautical engineer?"
"He was a college professor. He taught contemporary literature."
"Maybe reading that stuff drove him to suicide," the tourist said, which made him more interesting than Billy had first thought.
"No, no," Ned said impatiently. "The fall was accidental."
"Was he drunk?"
"Why would you think he was drunk?" Ned wondered.
The stranger shrugged. "He climbed on a roof to urinate on your windows."
"He was a sick man," Ned explained, plinking one finger against his empty glass to indicate the desire for another round.
Drawing Budweiser from the tap, Billy said, "Henry Friddle was consumed by vengeance."
After silent communion with his brew, the tourist asked Ned Pearsall, "Vengeance? So you urinated on Friddle's windows first?"
"It wasn't the same thing at all," Ned warned in a rough tone that advised the outsider to avoid being judgmental.
"Ned didn't do it from his roof," Billy said.
"That's right. I walked up to his house, like a man, stood on his lawn, and aimed at his dining-room windows."
"Henry and his wife were having dinner at the time," Billy said.
Before the tourist might express revulsion at the timing of this assault, Ned said, "They were eating quail, for God's sake."
"You showered their windows because they were eating quail?"