The House of Thunder by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz’ The House of Thunder is similar to his work, The Voice of the Night, in that it offers a one-character viewpoint and tailors down the descriptive detail to a tolerable degree, which is a refreshing change for many readers. First released in 1982 this book was originally published under one of Koontz’ pseudonyms, Leigh Nichols, and re-introduced in 1992 under his real name. The story’s plot is quite a tale and includes international espionage between the US and the USSR, Medical dilemmas, romance, and the presumably supernatural.

The tale begins following a car accident near the mythical town of Willawauk, Oregon, when thirty-two-year-old, Susan Thornton, a scientist with Milestone Corporation, awakes in a strange hospital room after having been in a coma for three weeks. Upon her awakening, Susan temporarily struggles with amnesia and even as this improves, she maintains a black hole in her memory and to complicate her situation further she begins being tormented by dreams of her finance’s ghastly murder. Unfortunately, for Susan, there is a clever ploy going on at the hospital that will turn her world upside – down as she starts to see the murderers (who have supposedly died since this event), during her waking hours, walking around the hospital as orderlies. At first, Susan turns to the hospital staff for assurance but they only attempt to convince her that she is suffering hallucinations from the brain injury she incurred from the accident but that does not explain her bathroom encounter with the ghost who promises to rape and kill her. Ultimately, a pawn in a mindless game of espionage Susan is manipulated by almost everyone she meets and neither she nor the reader is likely to fathom what Koontz has in store for the stories conclusion.

Overall, House of Thunder has a good plot, good characters, twists, and turns that kept the story moving along and an ending, that while seeming a little farfetched and rushed, was quite unexpected. Even given that minor criticism, I was captivated by the storyline, which did include a little romance between Susan and one of the doctors and found the pages impossible to turn fast enough. So while I might not recommend this book to someone new to Koontz’ work perhaps suggesting that they read Intensity first I would recommend it to those readers who are already Koontz fans. [tags]book review, House of Thunder, Koontz, Dean Koontz, intrique, espionage, romance, murder, suspense[/tags]

The Hunters by W.E.B.Griffin

Bestselling author W.E.B. Griffin (with more than 35 novels in print) offers us his new creation The Hunters (the third ponderous installment in his Presidential Agent series) which continues where The Hostage left off with U.S. Army Major Carlos “Charley” Castillo fumbling about South America and Europe as he troubleshoots out of control situations for the President. In this his latest episode Castillo and his crew of specialists are in Uruguay trying to figure out who ordered the murder of Jean-Paul Lorimer (an American diplomat who had also established a second identity for himself in Uruguay as Jean-Paul Bertrand, a Lebanese national and a dealer in antiquities) who was under suspicion of various international crimes and focuses on the UN “oil for food” scandal.

The story begins in the period of post 9-11, with the Office of Homeland Security firmly in place and the Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Charles W. Montvale, resenting Castillo’s presidential appointment as Chief of Organizational Analysis. Despite this, however, Castillo steam rolls ahead with this task beginning with a visit to Estancia Shangi-La in Uruguay. Castillo’s mission is to determine the true identity of Bertrand and bring him back to the US but almost immediately Castillo’s group finds themselves under fire from unknown assailants. Finding Bertrand murdered Castillo’s men return fire with deadly accuracy, killing all six unknown, masked assailants.At the end of this heated battle Castillo finds and takes into possession bank notes worth an estimated sixteen million dollars, proof that Bertrand accepted bribe money for his part in the “oil for food” scandal. Meanwhile since Castillo has duel citizenship in both Germany and America he is able to involve his extensive international family in the operation.

Interestingly, the sheer numbers of military personnel, civil servants, diplomats, journalists, and ambassadorial types make for an extensive cast of characters who when all the puzzle pieces are fitted together settle into a plausible scenario that uses each of them to bring about a resolution to his mission that proved to involve blackmail, money-laundering, and espionage.

In my opinion the characters of Charley Castillo and Jake Torine are well drawn but the various meetings and travel detail could have been abridged so that more action scenes could have been included. Additionally, while I think the book deserves three stars and that many males would find it a decent read I feel that Griffin violated one of the first rules of writing involving descriptive narrative which is that the reader should be able to visualize a scene without having it explained to him.

[tags]book review, W.E.B. Griffin, The Hunters, Military, Homeland Security, espionage, murder, suspense[/tags]