A single dad and his 11-year old daughter go hopping from one dimension to the next with the help of a gizmo invented by Ed the bum that’s also being sought by a psychopathic federal agent. Cue Benny Hill title music as the good guys try to stay one step ahead of the government in a scifi/fantasy novel that mostly takes place in kitchens, bedrooms and hallways.
The idea here is solid, and for part of the novel it holds well. The main characters first hop into a parallel dimension where everyone is a bit fascist and there are mass executions in public parks. Another dimension features killer insect-shaped robots, but that’s about it, and the characters mostly hang around their small seaside town with no news or interest in the outside world. Koontz soon resorts to his familiar running away from a serial killer mode, as the dad and the daughter are chased by Falkirk the evil government agent. Sadly that plotline is nowhere near as interesting as exploring the different dimensions.
There’s also a moral dilemma, as the dad and the daughter go looking for Michelle the mom, who walked away years ago in this dimension but is presumably alive and present in the others. As luck would have it, there’s a Michelle in another dimension who lost his husband and daughter, and of course they are reunited. I’m hoping one of Koontz’s parallel dimensions has psychotherapists because they’re going to need them.
Koontz has been a Californian millionaire for a good while now, probably living in something of a parallel dimension of his own, and it shows. The locations are mostly detached homes, with the usual rooms, always suspiciously clean, as if everyone has hired Mexican help doing the chores while the white middle-class goes about their business of repairing Art Deco radios or whatever niche project they have going.
There’s a fun little aside in the end as Koontz mentions a parallel universe where WW2 never happened and the Art Deco period continued much longer because Bauhaus never happened. That would’ve been a cool place to visit, but instead we get a stock psychopath and a lot of running and waiting for the gizmo to come online and so on. A failed opportunity.