Dean Koontz, After the Last Race (Fawcett Crest, 1974)
[originally posted 17Sep2001]
Well, if you’re going to write genre novels, you might as well cover every genre. This is Koontz’ first, and really only, attempt at a straight hardboiled-style thriller. A loose-knit gang of would-be thieves have a plan to hold up a racetrack on a day when there will be at least two million dollars on the premises. Simple, easy to understand, with some nice plot twists and excellent characterization. Koontz takes a jaundiced look at the excesses of the seventies and the excesses of thriller writers like Spillane all in one gulp.
This is one of the longest novels Koontz wrote before becoming a superstar, and one gets the feeling he was testing his expansiveness legs, as it were. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as well here as it does in much longer books (e.g. Whispers or The House of Thunder); the first fifty pages, especially, are slow as molasses. Once it picks up, though, it picks up fast.
This may well be the hardest Dean Koontz novel on the planet to find. It’s worth searching out, but the prices will probably scare you more than most of his later novels. ***