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From the Corner of His Eye


From the Corner of His Eye

Think of someone who has been exemplary in their field of endeavor. Take Tiger Woods, for instance. I can't recite all of his accomplishments, but he is acknowledged as being an incredible golfer. Now, suppose, in the course of his next tournament, Tiger steps up and to the tee and hits a hole-in-one --- not once, but 18 times in a row. This would be an unheard-of feat. His previous accomplishments, however, would not be denigrated; they would be regarded as important, incredible, and as natural progressions toward an undreamed-of event.

Anyone reading Dean Koontz's new novel is going to have to evaluate his previous work in a similar light. Koontz has been writing memorable novels since before the time that a majority of his readers was old enough to hold a pencil properly; and he has a loyal, solid base that grows with each new book he writes. Harlan Ellison predicted great things for Koontz over 30 years ago and he was absolutely right. Nothing that Koontz has ever written, however, will prepare his new or established readership for FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE.

Koontz, as befits a veteran author of his stature, boldly begins FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE with three conundrums: 1) Barty Lampion is blinded at the age of three when surgeons, in order to save him from cancer, remove his eyes. Barty regains his sight at age 13; 2) Barty's mother, Agnes, a woman of great faith, selfless charity and quiet strength, with the capacity to move the world without a fulcrum, dies on the day Barty is born --- but lives long enough to make him proud of her before she dies a second time; and 3) the man who changed Barty's and Agnes's lives forever, on the day of Barty's birth, is a stranger whose destiny is inexorably linked with theirs.

The first of these is presented and resolved relatively early in the game. The second and third take awhile. All are the subject of plausible resolution. Along the way we are introduced to Junior Cain, an individual of such monstrosity and unpredictability that he can only be too real --- a man who regards Barty as an enemy almost from the moment of his birth, without knowing who he is. We also meet Angel White, whose existence is the result of an unspeakable crime and unconditional love. The lives of these people, separated initially by thousands of miles, are linked to each other in ways that are simultaneously profound, beautiful and horrific. And it is here that Koontz demonstrates the breadth, depth, and magnitude of his talent. Although the reader's instinct is to read this magnificent tale as quickly as possible, Koontz's prose demands that it be savored slowly. This is not merely a novel of suspense; it is also a story of belief and reflection, of hard choices and the beauty that can blossom from doing what is right, rather than what is easy.

In his introduction, Koontz quotes from THE MOMENTOUS DAY, by H. R. White, to the effect that each small act of kindness reverberates across great distances and spans of time; this philosophy permeates FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE. And Koontz, while dazzling the reader with magnificent turns of phrase that will evoke simultaneous admiration and envy, alternates the mood between tenderness and suspense. Barty is in terrible danger from Junior Cain; yet the selflessness and kindness of Agnes and the White family are presented in such a gentle, nonintrusive manner that when Koontz focuses on those aspects of the narrative, they are not a distraction but are, instead, uplifting.

Koontz closes FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE with a very short Author's Note concerning how human relationships reflect Quantum mechanics. The reader does not have to understand either area to appreciate where Koontz goes. It is enough, rather, to know that underneath each apparent chaos there is some strange order. Koontz beautifully and vividly taps into this with a novel that is absolutely perfect from opening word to closing sentence.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

From the Corner of His Eye
by Dean Koontz

  • Publication Date: November 20, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553582747
  • ISBN-13: 9780553582741