Synopses & Reviews
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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Koontz's third astonishing novel in 13 months....[A]n exuberant, prickly, ambivalent parody....[T]he story's fundamental ridiculousness doesn't prevent it from being emotionally powerful and thought-provoking." Booklist (Starred Review)
"What a pleasure it is to report that in Life Expectancy, Koontz takes risks. The book is not simply great fun; it dares to address a serious question: In an age of color-coded terror alerts, how are we supposed to live normal lives?" Los Angeles Times
"[T]he suspense is minimal despite all the guns and dread....Readers will need all the suspense possible to keep them wading through the comedy lines. Koontz is a topflight suspense writer, but this error only the fans will love." Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. Koontz is a skillful storyteller....Life Expectancy offers a clear illustration of what he does right....[T]his is a book with 'Prepare to be enchanted' as an echoing motif." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
About the Author
When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly
fiction competition. He has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages; worldwide sales are over 300 million copies.
Ten of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list (The Husband, One Door Away From Heaven, From The Corner Of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, The Bad Place, Intensity, and Sole Survivor). Thirteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback.
Several of his books have been adapted into feature films and TV miniseries, including the highly rated “Intensity” on the Fox Network. The Husband is currently in development as a major motion picture by Focus Features/Random House Films.
The New York Times has called his writing "psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying." The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is "lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O'Connor or Walker Percy ... scary, worthwhile reading." The London Times called him "a literary juggler," and Publishers Weekly recently stated in a starred review that Koontz "gives readers bright hope in a dark world. He is a true original."
Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After he had been a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn't refuse: "I'll support you for five years," she said, "and if you can't make it as a writer in that time, you'll never make it." By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband's writing career. Dean and Gerda Koontz live in southern California with their golden retriever, Trixie, who herself has written two successful books—Life Is Good and Christmas Is Good.
From the Paperback edition.