Mr Murder by Dean Koontz
Martin Stillwater is a happily married author of some note. His life is moving along sweetly. He loves his wife, Paige, and is devoted to their two young daughters, Charlotte and Emily. But perhaps all good things must come to an end, and Martin feels that that time has come when he begins to experience overpowering feelings of dread, just like when your credit card bill is due and the postman arrives at your letterbox. The thriller writer starts to believe that something terrible is headed his way, and he may not be far wrong.
Across the country from sunny California, a killer is finishing off his bloody business. He is a strange being. He doesn’t know his real name, can’t remember his past and exists only to kill at the command of his handlers. But the killer has been experiencing rebellious sensations for some time. To celebrate his officially sanctioned kills, he has begun to have sex with prostitutes before murdering them. Taking a life using extreme violence gives him some much needed release from the growing frustration that is building inside him. Yet, this time, the killer goes one step further. He gives in to an irresistible urge that pulls him relentlessly from Kansas to California, all the way into the life of Martin Stillwater.
When these two lives collide, sparks fly. The emotionally stable author and family man finds himself up against an apparently unstoppable killing machine. Unfortunately, Martin’s wife and children are in grave danger of being caught up in the firing line, and he struggles desperately to protect them.
The killer is also being pursued by two shady employees of a criminal network hellbent on global domination. This is a recurring theme in many of Koontz’ novels. Drew Oslett and Karl Clocker are after their pet hit-man. They check police reports and follow the destruction all the way to the Stillwater residence. But the terrified family have since fled in their attempts to survive the depraved and sociopathic attentions of the creature known to Oslett and Clocker as Alfie.
Alfie is a clone. He is the first in a line, hence the name, taken from Alpha (Koontz is not slow, see what he did there? Ahem). He has been manufactured complete with tremendous powers of regeneration and can survive anything short of a head shot, or intense fire, or being frozen, or being chopped up into little pieces, or a really bad headache, or a nuclear strike (this could go on for a while so OK, he is fairly vulnerable but just not as vulnerable as ordinary humans). Alphie is only three years old and is programmed with all relevant information necessary to carry out his missions of death. Although physically fully grown, the clone is not emotionally developed and it is this that begins to cause serious problems for both him and wider society. Alphie has gone rogue. With this in mind, Rebel Voice wishes to inquire if perhaps Donald Trump might also be clone? If so, then the designers really chose a poor biological model to copy.
The shady group that designed and created him – Alphie, not Trump – is determined to shape a New World Order by using custom-made killing units to remove those who they deem an obstruction to their plans. The clones were supposed to have been grown using bone marrow from a scientist involved in the conspiracy. But somehow Martin’s marrow has been accidentally used and this leads to Alphie strongly resembling the confused author. Martin has discovered that he has a crazy doppelganger who wants to claim his family as his own. As you can probably guess, Mr Stillwater is not a very happy camper, being hunted as he is by a malfunctioning, homicidal maniac (is there any other kind?) with preternatural powers. Marty is pretty pissed off.
But who is the most dangerous? Is it the programmed killer or the people who made him? Will the network catch Alphie in time and if so will they allow the Stillwater family to live knowing all that they do? Well, you’ll have to pick up the book to find out as Rebel Voice has no intention of spoiling this for you.
Mr Murder is a decent read. There are strong characters, the plot is engaging, the settings are vivid and the pace is frantic. There are some frustrating slips in the story-line but not enough to destroy the overall enjoyment. Mr Murder is one that should keep you gripped until the bitter end.
Sult scale rating: 7 out of 10. Good story, well told. Yet more shady networks involved in dastardly shenanigans, so perhaps Dean Koontz knows something and is trying to tell us indirectly. Anyone too much into Koontz books would surely have become a hardcore prepper by now, waiting for the day when the ass falls out of society. On the bright side for those not living in the US, Armageddon is likely to begin in the good ole US of A. Condolences to all our North American cousins and please keep the noise down as you struggle to defeat the zombies and vampires and androids and clones and demons and shit.