Dean Koontz is one of the world’s most prolific authors, and unlike many of the other prolific writers, he does not make use of other authors to continue his manuscripts. It is somewhat understandable, therefore, that one might discover something of a formula to his tales.
When reading Dean Koontz, one can normally expect a fast-paced, thrilling adventure, generally with the main character (and occasionally the main character’s potential love interest) having to run for their life from some dangerous monster/cult/person with an almost uncanny way of tracking them down wherever they go. Generally there is a golden retriever, or canine of another sort, involved. He also has the trademark cast of quirky, sometimes downright oddball, characters.
Ashley Bell contains many of these standard Koontz-tropes. It has the bold female lead, Bibi Blair, who won’t let anything get her down and who will take on any challenge life has to offer her – including a rare and fatal rare brain tumour. It has a golden retriever, Olaf, although in this case, he has been dead for 6 years. It has a dangerous cult leader in the form of a Neo-Nazi, Hitler-wannabe and murderer. And, yes, there is the love interest – in this case, Paxton, who is doing his military duty out in the field. To save herself, Bibi must find, and rescue, a girl by the name of Ashley Bell. But who is Ashley Bell?
Bibi undergoes a whirlwind, madcap journey, filled with strange coincidences and violent murders. She is hunted at every corner, and there seems nowhere will provide refuge. As tensions increase and events – and acquaintances – conspire around her, a harrowing truth will be revealed – something extraordinary and forgotten.
Ashley Bell is longer than the standard Koontz tale, more of a tome than a quick weekend read. The prose is eloquent and flowery – perhaps reflecting Bibi Blair’s career as an author. It has about it something of the familiar, and a little of the fresh and new.
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
by Dean Koontz
Published by Harper Collins NZ
NB: The paperback of Ashley Bell is due out in June 2016.