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Like the Stephen Baldwin TV Movie, Only with Words!

By Tereasa | Books | June 3, 2010 |

By Tereasa | Books | June 3, 2010 |

When I was in high school I absorbed stories by Koontz, King, Cornwell, and Crichton. Granted, I probably should have paid more attention to the “suggested” reading list - but I’ve always enjoyed quick paced novels that don’t leave much aftertaste in my head. I have cherished favorites that I’m weary of rereading fearing that they won’t hold up to what I remember - Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, From Potter’s Field by Patricia Cornwell and the classic Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. One of my all time favorite classic Dean Koontz stories is Mr. Murder.

Marty Stillwater is a mystery thriller writer just beginning to gain mainstream attention for his dark novels. “I need… I need… I need…” is magnetized on Marty’s cassette recorder during a seven minute trance state. When Marty realizes what transpired, he is overcome with a sense of dread - like something is barreling down on him, coming to endanger him, his wife and their two daughters.

And boy, is something ever. His evil twin - OK, not twin but clone. The Other, as Marty calls him, or Alfie, which his handlers address him by. Alfie is a government created super human assassin who has no memory of anything before or after his current assignment. For some unknown reason Alfie is suddenly drawn to Marty - a very magnetic pull - and Alfie is the one who needs. He decides he needs to be someone. To have a name, a life, just like all the characters in the movies he adores. Alfie splits his free time between whores (who he sex and kills) and movies. Many of Alfie’s truths of life come from Jimmy Steward, Jack Nicholson, and other actors.

The plot moves along quickly as Alfie tries to take over Mary’s life by kidnapping his family. And Alfie believes that they are Alfie’s family - to a scary creepy degree. When that doesn’t succeed Alfie talks himself into believing that aliens have taken over his wife and daughters. While Alfie attempts to kill everyone who he believes has turned on him, Marty and family do everything they can to stay ahead and stay alive.

The story is told mostly from Marty’s side, Alfie’s side, and one of Alfie’s handler’s sides. Occasionally an additional view is thrown in, like Marty’s daughters or the other handler. Mostly moving between Marty’s and Alfie’s perspectives enriches the creepy factor. Koontz is a great story teller and I didn’t catch any obvious plot holes or typos. There is humor in this Koontz story, although not as much as I remember.

So, after over ten years did this book hold up? Yes and no. It’s a great story, I found it to be a great read again - but I didn’t find it as funny as I recalled, although I did find new humor in the detailed almost bragging descriptions of fancy gadgets like computers and sat-phones. Mr. Murder is still one of my favorite Koontz stories, along with Odd Thomas, but I doubt it will hold up to another reread in a decade or so.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Tereasa’s reviews, please check out her blog, Occasionally Photographic Ramblings.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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