by Dean Koontz
Bantam, $28 (352p)
In this imaginative, mystical thriller from bestseller Koontz (77 Shadow Street), Addison Goodheart, a 26-year-old man so “exceedingly ugly” that his appearance causes “the most terrible rage” in regular people, lives alone in a hidden part of an American metropolis, but views his solitude as a gift that has enabled him to recognize “reality’s complex dimensions.” An unexpected encounter in a deserted library with Gwyneth, an 18-year-old Goth girl who’s the target of the rare-book curator’s lust, throws him for a loop. Addison bonds with Gwyneth, who suspects her nemesis, J. Ryan Telford, of murdering her father by sending him poisoned honey. The interactions of the isolated leads and the meaning of their existence overshadow the crime elements, and the language can be vague (e.g., “Who we of the hidden were, what we were, why we ever existed, explained the mystery of music issuing out of the ether”). Still, this is the most satisfying Koontz standalone in a while.