After being rather disappointed by Odd Hours last fall, I decided to take a break from reading Dean Koontz. When he's good he's great, but when he's bad he's....really bad. I'm not saying Odd Hours was terrible -- it just wasn't as good as the books that preceded it in the Odd Thomas series. A week or so ago I decided enough time had passed and I would probably enjoy reading a "classic" Koontz book -- one of his oldies that gets almost unanimous acclaim from critics and casual book-readers alike. 1988's Lightning is one of those, and I was not let down.
The book's leading character is Laura Shane, a talented and successful author who has had quite a troubled and challenged life. However, at certain times she is visited by a man who acts as her guardian, sometimes protecting from the harshest of life's blows. Her life soon dissolves into paranoia when it's revealed her guardian is a time traveler from a horrible time and place, and others from that place that want to kill Laura are coming, too. She must go on the run and protect her life at all costs.
Sorry I'm being vague, but I don't want to give anything away. This is a novel that only works if you don't know what's coming next.
I was highly impressed by this book. Laura was one of the best female lead characters I've ever come across in a Dean Koontz novel, and Stefan (Laura's guardian) is endlessly intriguing. Adding to the memorable cast of characters that round out the story are Laura's son Chris and her best friend since childhood, comedian Thelma. One slight complaint is a lot of the dialogue doesn't seem quite realistic -- especially Chris's. He is a nine-year-old boy and talks like he's in his thirties. Alas, that comes with the territory when reading a Koontz thriller so I was expecting it and it didn't bother me too much.
If you're looking for a short and fun read, look no further. Lightning combines trademark Koontz elements -- sci-fi, romance, suspense, family values, love -- but it doesn't feel like old hat or reheated nonsense. Written in the late '80s when Koontz was at the top of his game, Lightning feels like a vital work in 2015 and shouldn't be overlooked.