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After the Last Race (1974): It’s Back to the Barn for You

Dean Koontz, After the Last Race (Fawcett Crest, 1974)

[originally posted 17Sep2001]

The steely mastermind of the heist looks through binoculars on the book's cover.

I have owned a copy of this book for over a quarter-century now, and in all that time, I have never believed the cover art character’s resemblance to Michael Caine was in any way coincidental.
photo credit: koontz.iwarp.com

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. ***

 

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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