A Novel like Swiss Cheese: A Review of "From the Corner of His Eye"

 


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And we're off. . .

Dean Koontz has never been a consistent writer. Sometimes his prose is good. Sometimes it leaves a great deal to be desired. Sometimes I get so involved in his intricately woven plots that I forget the world I'm supposed to be living in. Sometimes I get so hung up on his repetitions (think: “sodium vapor lights"), that I am time and again prematurely expelled from his creation. But usually, writing style aside, Dean Koontz is a master of suspense, building tension to the breaking point, and then dropping the bombshell.

With this in mind, I had high hopes for “From the Corner of His Eye". At over five hundred pages, it was a tome that I was sure I could sink my teeth into. And surely, no matter the style, once I got into it, I knew I'd just be holding my breath through to the conclusion.

. . and I was.

And who are these characters you've set upon your stage?

"From the Corner of His Eye" is an ambitious work, even by Koontz standards. He brings a multitude of characters to the page, both likable and heinous, breathing life into them and then setting them on their way.

Characters in a Koontz novel are always interesting. Very rarely does he fall into the death trap of stereotypes, and “From the Corner of His Eye" doesn't disappoint in this. Bartholomew and his nemesis, Junior, though easily defined as “good" and, accordingly, “evil, " are both interesting characters, with likes, dislikes, emotions, and idiosyncrasies that set them apart.

In fact, one of the highlights of “From the Corner of His Eye" is the running commentary from Bartholomew's disaster-fearing twin uncles. From train wrecks to tornadoes, from fires to firing squads, the twins have a horror story for all occasions. There was a satisfying cohesiveness to the thread the twins brought to the story, and they even brought much-needed comic relief.

Oh what a tangled web. . .

The trouble - oh, and there is trouble - starts with the plotline. Inevitably, when an author's plotlines get complex, they are going to get tangled. I can live with that. But when ends are left loose, stories unravel accordingly, and such is the case with “From the Corner of His Eye". Characters who seem somehow potentially relevant are left to fade away from neglect. Characters that are given the mark of great importance, such as Angel, seem somehow, remarkably, absent from necessity, as if they could have been left out completely, without real damage to the storyline. That is a mark of a carelessly told story.

Carelessly told

Yes, in the end, “From the Corner of His Eye" is a carelessly told story. Koontz does just fine - wonderful, in fact - until it's time to wrap it up. Until about page 480, I was holding my breath, waiting for that breathtaking climax that just had to be coming. It just had to.

Well, my friends, it never materialized.

Koontz weaves and weaves until his story is so complex that you can't help but wonder what marvelous ending he has in store, and in this, he falls so far short that the story goes from sixty to zero in a matter of seconds.

When the hero and the villain meet - and this time it is for the first and last time - there should be fireworks. There should be earthquakes (a la the twin uncles) and meteor strikes and heaven and earth colliding.

Instead, there is nothing. . . nothing, but an ending so anticlimactic that I wanted to take the book and drop it into a hole in the earth.

"From the Corner of His Eye" is nothing but self-indulgent mumbo jumbo. Koontz took a wonderful concept (with some interesting forays into advanced theoretical physics), built it up to critical mass, and then dumped an ocean full of water on it.

There is no climax to this novel. It goes straight from building suspension to denouement.

Koontz may have wanted to indulge in a happy ending for once, and that's fine, but it seemed entirely too much effort for naught.

When I read a five hundred page novel, I'm investing a great deal of time, energy, and emotional attachment into it. I don't like to be disappointed, and “From the Corner of His Eye" was a monumental disappointment on all levels. If I knew at page 1 what I knew at page 500, I never would have given this novel the time of day.

If you're a sucker for a happy ending, then maybe that's enough to make up for the Swiss cheese-like plot holes, but beware: the ending may be happy, but it's so sappy happy that you'd better not forget your bucket.

Lisa is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry .

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