QUICKSILVER By Dean Koontz
Thomas & Mercer, s/b, £4.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Dean Koontz is somewhat of a legendary author in the literary world – with many bestsellers under his belt, he’s sold over five hundred million books, so is (in the words of Ron Burgundy) kind of a big deal. His latest is an interesting read – it tells the tale of the eponymous Quinn Quicksilver. Found by three men in a basket on a desert highway in Arizona aged three days, he was raised in an orphanage. He lived an unremarkable life until everything changed, and he did no longer. Finding himself compelled by forces unknown, he drives to an abandoned roadside diner, where he finds a valuable gold coin. He sells it and finds himself compelled to start withdrawing some of the funds over the coming days, but not to spend, but instead to hoard. Confronted by men in black suits, identifying themselves as agents of the Internal Security Agency, he escapes and soon finds the hoarded money very useful as he goes on the run.
It turns out that Quinn isn’t unique – the ISA agents had encountered others like him before and wanted nothing more than to lock him away so they could question him and no doubt experiment upon him. His odd compulsions (or “psychic magnetism”, as he calls it) make him drive to a ranch, where he encounters someone like him, Bridget. She’s been captured by two more ISA agents, and her grandfather is locked in the boot of their car. Guided by his psychic magnetism, Quinn manages to kill both agents and then frees Bridget and her grandfather, Sparky. They then go on a fairly long and complicated quest, constantly chased by the ISA, find others like themselves and learn that they are Guardians, battling an ancient evil race, the Screamers.
As with every Dean Koontz book, it’s a definite page-turner, but the dialogue feels a little contrived at times, which is very unusual for Koontz, based on my experiences of his past work. It almost feels like all the characters are in on a big joke that the readers aren’t – they all seem to riff off each other, but perhaps that is intentional by the author to show their “uniqueness”. While that may be a little distracting at first, it soon fades into the background as the reader finds themselves drawn into Quinn’s world. Peppered with action, adventure and some slightly dubious names (Sparky Rainking and Panthea Ching, to name but two, as well as the borderline biblical names of the three men that found Quinn – Hakeem Kaspar, Caesar Melchizadek and Bailie Belshazzer), it’s a very compelling read. Personally, it’s not my favourite of his works, but it’s definitely not one just for the collectors – it’s an easy read and one that you’ll enjoy.