In the dazzling new thriller from the master of dark suspense, the hand of fate reaches out to touch an ordinary man with greatness. So long as he is ready. So long as he is, above all, afraid.
Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. As a violent storm rages outside the hospital, Rudy Tock spends long hours walking the corridors between the expectant fathers' waiting room and his dying father's bedside. It's a strange vigil made all the stranger when, at the very height of the storm's fury, Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the first and last time since his stroke.
What he says before he dies is that there will be five dark days in the life of his grandson – five dates whose terrible events Jimmy will have to prepare himself to face. The first is to occur in his 20th year; the second in his 23rd year; the third in his 28th; the fourth in his 29th; the fifth in his 30th.
Rudy is all too ready to discount his father's last words as a dying man's delusional rambling. But then he discovers that Josef also predicted the moment of his grandson's birth to the minute, as well as his exact height, weight, and the fact that Jimmy would be born with syndactyly – the unexplained anomaly of fused digits on his left foot. Suddenly, the old man's predictions take on a chilling significance.
What terrifying events await Jimmy on these five dark days? What nightmares will he face? What challenges must he survive? As the novel unfolds, picking up Jimmy's story at each of these crisis points, the path he must follow will defy every expectation. And with each crisis he faces, he will move closer to a fate he could never have imagined. For who Jimmy Tock is and what he must accomplish on the five days his world turns is a mystery as dangerous as it is wondrous – a struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.
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Life Expectancy confirms that one of the pleasures of reading Dean Koontz is that he is never especially likely to do the same thing twice in a row. Here he gives us a suspense novel with a supernatural element--Jimmy's dying grandfather prophesies at his birth that he will have five really bad days in his twenties and we watch these with real concern that he may not survive them. Even on the day of Jimmy's birth things go badly--a mad clown loses his wife in childbirth and massacres hospital staff; a bizarre feud between clowns and aerialists is a significant part of what follows. One of the strengths of Koontz's writing is that he works out in finely-blocked detail precisely how his average characters get themselves out of desperate situations by ingenuity and pluck, and without suddenly becoming super-powerful; even at his most wildly inventive, he remembers to be plausible. And this is one of his best books for a while simply because he has fewer axes to grind--this is pure story-telling of the smoothest kind. --Roz Kaveney.Review:
Praise for Dean Koontz:
‘Dean Koontz straddles the genres, and pretty successfully, too … this is a read-at-a-sitting novel – with a terrific final twist’ The Observer on Odd Thomas
'Dean Koontz is not just a master of our darkest dreams, but also a literary juggler' The Times
‘Psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying’ The New York Times
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007196954
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110007196954