Dean Koontz, “The Bad Place”

“The Wizard of Oz” is paranormal storytelling, right?

“Harry Potter” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” too.

Paranormal “designates experiences that lie outside the range of normal experience or scientific exploration (Wikipedia).”

Para = besides and/or “at the side of,” in this case, normal.

And you certainly wouldn’t classify The Emerald City, Hogwarts or the Usher abode as normal.  But I can buy into all three examples of these “paranormal” fictions.

(Okay, the truth: not so much with Harry Potter. To me, the series is a good demonstration of the fact that not all great stories require good writing.)

Which brings me to Dean Koontz.  A good friend said try “The Bad Place.” I have enjoyed a bit of Koontz and I have to say “The Bad Place” starts strong.

Sure, there was some whacky stuff going on—a frightened, spooked-out Everyman (Frank Pollard) who has no idea what happens to him when he sleeps.  I really didn’t know Koontz could portray relationships so well and I was pulled into the bond between married detectives Julie and Bobby Dakota.  To add to the surprise, a sensitive portrayal of Julie’s younger brother Thomas, who has Down’s syndrome.

And then, about two-thirds of the way through “The Bad Place,” I felt like I was run off the rails. The story grew, well, too paranormal. Was it the giant spiders?  The bizarre stacks of cash? The red diamonds? The telepathic bridges?  Close to the end, the sexual mutations of the bad guy and his family just left me thinking one thing: ugh.

A bit of “Twilight Zone,” a touch of “The Outer Limits” and a dash of “The Time Tunnel” and off we go.

Maybe a tad spooky, a little weird…but hardly scary.

Wish I knew why I “buy” some paranormal and shake my head at others. I’m not sure I understand the craze. I think it has something to do with the characters staying grounded, staying human, staying real.  I wish “The Bad Place” had stayed closer to ground, not quite so “para.”


One response to “Dean Koontz, “The Bad Place”

  1. I’m not a Koontz fan–I’ve found his plots don’t add up, the resolutions falter, conclusions just don’t seem credible. There are far better suspense writers out there and I hope you discover them…

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