Dean Koontz published his first novel at the age of 23. He was so prolific that he used more than ten pseudonyms, writing as many as eight books a year, in different genres. Early on his books were science fiction, but soon he went into supernatural and horror fiction. Today Koontz is the 5th highest paid writer in the world, tied with Grisham, making over $25 million a year from writing.
I read a number of Koontz books some twenty years ago. He is a master story-teller and suspense builder. All his books start out with a bang on the first page, something bad starts happening to the protagonist right away, and it just gets worse, page after page. Koontz does not give the reader a break. The villains are relentless, brutal, creepy, eerie or scary. The protagonists are always regular guys, living in suburban Orange County, California, and weird stuff happens to them.
The warning I have about Koontz books: Beware of picking one up, because you can’t put it down.
However, I broke my Koontz habit a long time ago after maybe a dozen of his books, none of which I can remember now. There is never any redeeming literary value or philosophical message. Koontz writes to entertain, captivate and – to make money. He does that very well.
After reading any Koontz book, I found myself putting down the book, convinced that I had a good time, I was entertained, but I learned absolutely nothing. There really was no reason for reading the book other than pure, mindless entertainment.
Which brings me to Time Thieves. Copyright 1972 tells me it’s one of Koontz’ early books. It’s no longer in print and you probably won’t be able to find it anywhere but in used bookstores. The title caught my eye. The cover is completely silly, has nothing to do with the story, at least from what I can tell, but reminds me of vintage science fiction of the 1960 and 1970 decades.
The protagonist is Pete Mullion, a photographer and design man by profession who is working on fixing up his cabin in the woods in his spare time. One time he disappears for twelve days and doesn’t remember anything about what happened to him during the “black out.” The story tells about how he and his wife try to figure out what happened to him. As he struggles to put things together, he figures out that he is being followed and watched. As the story winds on, there are robotic humanoids that try to catch him, and alien minds who attack him telepathically.
Remember what I said above: Common, normal guys experience really weird stuff in Koontz books, and there is more and more action in every paragraph as you turn the pages. That’s going on in Time Thieves.
I must admit, I had a hard time reading this, despite Koontz’ skill of drawing the reader in. I kept going because it was very obvious I was reading the oldest, earliest Koontz book I had ever got my hands on, long before his breakout book Whispers, and I wanted to see how he wrote early on.
Fortunately is was not too long.