The Vision (1977) by Dean Koontz

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Southern California according to Koontz is a place infested with serial killers, but happily there’s a clairvoyant-at-large, Mary, using her Dead Zone skills out of the goodness of her blessed heart. Together with Max her manly husband of about six months (it feels like they’ve been married for years and years) she helps the police capture evildoers before they harm any single ladies. But she’s got some heavy history of her own and her subconscious hides the worst killer of them all.

The Vision is all business from the beginning and proceeds at a breakneck pace helped along by the fact that a large part of the novel is told through dialogue. Backstory is given drop by measured drop, because otherwise the reader would probably figure out what takes the seer a lifetime to piece together. Not that the small retinue of characters doesn’t make it far too easy from the start.

There’s nothing wrong with the plot, it’s a thriller by the numbers, with some surprisingly nasty details from the man who is pretty much a human equivalent of a golden retriever. The plot point involving bats is the one that sticks to mind, and it’s probably going to be at the top of my mind every time I as much as glance at a Koontz book. There are also supernatural attacks by glass trinkets and seagulls, because killers alone wouldn’t cut it.

The Vision is a lesser novel. The writing and the pacing are alright, but all characters, most importantly Mary herself, are thrown in front of the reader fully formed and all that’s left is to count all the clues. She may have been on a journey, but the readers aren’t invited to participate. It’s the writer’s choice and it does serve a thriller format very well, but it does detract from the horror and the mystery of it all.

*** (3/5)

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