Fear Nothing

by Dean Koontz

Published by Bantam Books

384 pages, 1998

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Delicious Prose from the Dark Master

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards


I agree with Dean Koontz: Fear Nothing is his finest work to date. Lyrical and sometimes even poetic, Fear Nothing looks as much like his early work as filet mignon looks like a hamburger. That is, neither is bad: but the good in one is more apparent than the good in the other. You decide.

As deeply steeped with the suspense and mystiscim of earlier works, Fear Nothing has a richer tone and more complete feel. From the beginning, the characters seem better fleshed out than those this author has created before. The story is gripping and belieavable, even in its unbeliveability. In short, Fear Nothing is a more mature work and Koontz' writing resonates with this maturity.

An example from early in the book. Snow is remembering a boyhood incident, when he and another 13-year-old peeked into the window of the local mortuary's crematorium:

Sometimes in a silent rapture of dread and sometimes whispering urgently to each other like a pair of deranged sportscasters doing color commentary, we watched as Frank and his assistant readied the cremator in one corner of the chamber. The room must have been warm, for the men slipped off their ties and rolled up their shirtsleeves, and tiny drops of perspiration wove beaded veils on their faces.

The story is set in a small, coastal California town as so many of Koontz' novels have been. Picture a west coast Cabot Cove without benefit of Angela Lansbury. Though, of course -- this being a Koontz novel -- this town boasts an abandoned military installation practically on the edge of town. Christopher Snow's father is dieing of cancer in a nearby hospital even as we open. Snow is an unlikely but likeable main character: a self-described "elephant man", he has a rare genetic disorder that leaves him extremely sensitive to light. Snow's world revolves around the dark and he's comfortable with its revolution. Until his father dies: "Fear nothing," are his last words and it takes Snow less than an hour to decipher the cryptic message. Moonlight Bay is rapidly running towards a very dark place, and somehow Snow himself is at the center of it. Fearing anything at all could cost him his life: and worse.

In many ways, Fear Nothing is standard Koontz fare. There are elements of mystery, horror and techno thriller and hearing this will not come as a surprise to those familiar with Koontz' work. What might come as a surprise is the tone and texture of this novel. It reads like a new and better Koontz: the writing is stronger and more true and there is a confident richness that was sometimes lacking in earlier works. It's still scary, but it's a more elegant ride. | July 15, 1998


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine. Her fourth novel, Death was the Other Woman, will be published early in 2008 by St. Martin's Minotaur.