No spoilers, this is a recommendation.
You should read Velocity by Dean Koontz because it’s an interesting concept combining the over-the-top theatrics of an antagonist with the fairly realistic main character to counterbalance. Follow Billy Wiles, a rather unassuming bartender who receives a rather strange message on his car window:
“If you dont this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher somewhere in Napa County.
If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work.
You have six hours to decide.
The choice is yours.”
Don’t worry that’s not a spoiler, it’s on the back cover of the book sleeve.
There is a rather consistent fascination with life and death thematically. As more is revealed about the note maker and Billy himself, a new layer of how life is viewed and what occurs comes into view. However, one can argue that this is pretty typical for a book in the thriller genre. A certain character could even predict the future using the corpses of the roadkill she saw.
A quote that sums it up perfectly, “while life could be avoided death could not.” Death is inevitable is a rather common theme, but that doesn’t mean the thought doesn’t have merit.
Billy is by every sense of the word typical. He’s slightly above average intelligence, but extremely aware of his abilities. The man is constantly an anxious mess throughout the story and you can’t really blame him.
However, the most prominent theme deals with action and decision-making. From the note one can see that both options are net negatives, there isn’t a get out of this situation. There is the idea that inaction is a choice as well and that’s something everyone can relate to. It is hammered home that Billy Wiles isn’t anything special. He says it to himself, Koontz says it us, and based on what Billy shows off he is. Yet as the story escalates and Billy begins to deal with crazier events, he becomes a man of action. The average-looking barkeep without any military background or 7000 IQ is forced to make decisions all by himself to stop the notes. Near the end of the book, Billy becomes a new man in both resolve and even his friends begin to notice it and call him Bill instead. Perhaps, Koontz is trying to say that the choice of inaction holds us back from being who we truly are and want to be. Or at least that’s how I want to interpret it at least.
Outside of the themes, the novel itself is a very easy read and moves forward at a rather constant pace once the action picks up. The book is rather morbid (as if you couldn’t tell by the rest of this post), but nothing is overtly gory. For the most part, you’ll be following Billy going around town trying to figure out what to do next to stop the notes.
There is no doubt that Dean Koontz is one of the more popular thriller authors around and its no surprise he knows what he’s doing in terms of pacing and pulling various different aspects of his protagonist into one coherent theme. Check out his website linked here to learn more about him and browse his enormous collection of books.
However, the book is far from perfect. The beginning is pretty slow to start and the end seems far too abrupt. Considering the title it seems like its exactly as advertised, but the ending wraps up so well in places, leaving the reader feeling like certain aspects of the story were hyped up to be bigger issues than how the ending seemed to finish them off in a paragraph or two, but I can see how some people would be fine with that (which is perfectly valid).
Certain plot points hint towards something larger, but once the full reveal occurs, the story just keeps chugging along. With a small amount of rewriting it felt like almost a third of the book could have been cut.
TL:DR; Velocity isn’t the best thriller I have ever read, but given the quick read, cool premise, and likable protagonist there is enough to warrant a glance through. Those who love thrillers may burn out too quick before the story really gets going, but there is definitely a solid book underneath worth the time to read it.
Thanks for reading!