Book critic threatens writer in `Thriller'

June 8, 2009 8:30:43 AM PDT
In this latest thriller from Dean Koontz (a master at spinning darktales), Cullen "Cubby" Greenwich becomes the target of Shearman Waxx, the most influential book critic in the country, after the publication of his latest novel.

"He gutted me," complains Cullen, who has written five best sellers.

His wife, Penny Boom, an acclaimed writer and illustrator of children's books, tells Cullen to let it go. His publisher, film agent and audio publisher tell him to get over it. His literary agent assures him that a Waxx review, even a negative one, is a "great thing" because "coverage sells."

But Cullen can't shake it off.

It's not that he wants to be confrontational, he tells himself, he just wants to see what Waxx looks like. (But you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat.)

Cullen manages to find Waxx at a local restaurant. He decides to leave without speaking to the critic, but there's a minor mishap in the men's bathroom involving Waxx, Cullen and Cullen's 6-year-old son, Milo. Waxx utters one word: "Doom."

Waxx isn't just a man of words, he's also a man of action. Hence, the Taser, which he uses on Cullen after finding his way into the Greenwich home. He also has explosives. Cullen, Penny, Milo and the family pet, a non-collie named Lassie, make their getaway just before their house is blasted to smithereens.

Although Waxx seems formidable - and able to track his victims with ease - Cullen has some weapons of his own: Penny is the daughter of a demolitions expert. Milo, aka Spooky, is beyond brilliant. And Cullen, himself, can rise to the occasion.

But is that enough to keep Waxx from torturing and murdering them?

Koontz knows how to dial up the terror, one gruesome detail after another, and in "Relentless," he adds a sprinkling of sci-fi (did someone say saltshaker?) - and, yes, humor. While some may find this a bit off-putting, Koontz's many fans won't be disappointed.

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