Large Print Edition
By Dean Koontz
Random House Large Print, 2009; 448 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 25, 2010
Dean Koontz, who frequently offers us novels that incorporate the supernatural - the possibility of a nature that people do not yet understand - has created a post-modernistic magical symphony in Breathless.
More than half a dozen finely drawn and interesting characters people the tale, like a collection of different finely tuned instruments in an orchestra. Each person is presented separately, intriguingly, and then in the final part of the novel most are merged together in a moving and lively crescendo.
There is the seemingly peaceful furniture maker Grady Adams and his dog Merlin. Grady has a hidden past. There is Camillia Rivers, a dedicated veterinarian with a tragic past of her own. She recues two dozen dogs that are in a state of shock because of dehydration, malnutrition, maltreatment and disease at a puppy mill. After being saved and at her kennel, the dogs suddenly stand, as if they are listening to a distant message, one that humans cannot hear. Then, after moments of stupor, they become healthy, as if they were never mistreated.
There are the two strange animals, if we dare call them that. They come to Grady Adam's house and made it their home. The two seem to change before his eyes and do things that no animal can do.
There is also Henry Rouvoy, who embezzled millions of dollars, who kills his twin brother and his wife so that he can assume his brother's identity. Although dead, the couple seems to continue to inhabit their home, as in Edgar Allan Poe's Tell Tale Heart.
Dr. Lamar Woolsey also appears. He is a brilliant mathematician who can count cards, who wins big at casinos and hands his winnings to needy folk. Liddon Wallace, a lawyer, is also present. Wallace wants Rudy Neems to kill his wife by burning her. Wallace agrees that Neems can rape her repeatedly before the murder. Tom Bigger is also introduced. He robs people with an empty gun because he does not want to hurt anyone; that is, anyone but himself. His face is hideously disfigured because of beatings. He is searching for something or someone.
There are more characters in this magical symphony, each adding his and her own notes, including the sweet tones of Josef Yurashalmi and his desire to do gemilut chesed and the discordant sounds of Paul Jardine, the villain from Homeland Security.
Readers will enjoy hearing how these characters encounter and interact with one another.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.