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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Sole Survivor

By Dean Koontz
Alfred A. Knopf, 321 pp, 1997

Joe Carpenter has had a very, very bad year.

Exactly one year ago, on the very day, his wife and two young daughters were killed in a terrifying plane crash, in which over 200 other people lost their lives. The Boeing plane slammed in a Colorado meadow, engines at full speed, and was effectively obliterated on contact. The FAA ruled it accidental, but never found a cause.

Needless to say, Joe hasnít dealt with this very well. He quit his job as a crime reporter, hangs out at the beach, visits his wife and daughterís grave, and sees no reason to go on living.

Until he meets a lady named Rose at his wifeís gravesite. She claims to be the sole survivor of the crash. She has much to tell Joe, the truth about the crash, but she is run off by three gun-wielding thugs trying to kill her.

Suddenly, Joe wants to live. He feels he can find out the truth. He must contact Rose, no matter what, and find out what really happened to that plane. His quest begins.

Joe does find out the truth, and in the process uncovers a monstrous government program and conspiracy. It is like something from the X-Files, but more plausible, and hence more frightening.

Once again, Koontz has weaved an exciting, suspenseful thriller/mystery yarn. However, surprisingly, there are flaws.

Joe flies to Colorado Springs to speak to the official who headed the initial FAA investigation into the crash. Barbara tells him a terrifying tale, of brutal threats and hired killers, which forced her to drop her inquiry. She has kept quiet for fear of her sonís life, and her own, but unburdens herself to Joe, only after she is confident that the mysterious people who threatened her will not find out.

After Joe returns, he realizes he has been followed. Barbara is in terrible danger. He must phone her. But he doesnít. In fact, we never hear about Barbara again. Was she killed? Was her son killed? Donít know.

There are more loose ends at the end. The book has a nice finale, but doesnít truly end. It just stops. We donít know what happens to the poor boy, or Doctors Blom and Ramlock. There are simply too many unresolved storylines.

Hopefully, this means that Koontz will write a sequel, though heís written few of those. Otherwise, I donít see how such a great writer could have overlooked such mistakes.

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