Cover image for False memory
Title:
False memory
Author:
Koontz, Dean R. (Dean Ray), 1945-
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
627 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.7 33.0 64628.
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9780553106664
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Just when you thought he couldn't top himself, Dean Koontz has done it again with a novel that will chill you to the bone and demonstrate why he has earned the distinction "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone). A Dean Koontz novel is not just an unforgettable read--it is a life-changing experience. As anyone who has ever read one of his novels knows, he creates atmospheric settings, believable characters, and all-too-plausible situations through which he explores the terror that we all suspect lurks just out of sight in our ordinary lives. In this unforgettable novel he weaves a tale of madness, suspense, love, and terror from a startling and true-life psychological condition so close to home it will stun even his most seasoned readers: autophobia--fear of oneself. Martie Rhodes is a young wife, a successful video game designer, and a compassionate woman who takes her agoraphobic friend, Susan, to therapy sessions. Susan is so afraid of leaving her apartment that even these trips to the doctor's office become ordeals for both women--but with each trip a deeper emotional bond forms between them. Then one morning Martie experiences a sudden and inexplicable fear of her own, a fleeting but disquieting terror of...her own shadow. The episode is over so quickly it leaves her shaken but amused. The amusement is short-lived. For as she is about to check her makeup, she realizes that she is terrified to look in the mirror and confront the reflection of her own face. As the episodes of this traumatic condition-- autophobia--build, the lives of Martie and her husband, Dustin, change drastically. Desperate to discover the reasons for his wife's sudden and seemingly inevitable descent into mental chaos, Dusty takes Martie to the renowned therapist who has been treating Susan, and tries to reconstructhe events of recent months in a frantic search for clues. As he comes closer to the shocking truth, Dusty finds himself afflicted with a condition even more bizarre and fearsome than Martie's. No fan of Dean Koontz or of classic psychological suspense will want to miss this extraordinary novel of the human mind's capacity to torment-- and destroy--itself. InFalse Memory, Dean Koontz has created a novel that will stay in your memory long after the final page is turned-- a story not only of gripping fear but also of the power of love and friendship. Once more Koontz reveals why he has, asPeopleput it, the "power to scare the daylights out of us." Then one morning Martie experiences a sudden fear of her own, a brief but disquieting terror of...her shadow. The episode is over so quickly, it leaves her shaken but amused. Then, as she is about to check her makeup, she realizes she is terrified to look in the mirror and confront her own face. As the episodes of this traumatic condition--autophobia--build, the lives of Martie and her husband, Dustin, change drastically. Frantic to discover the trigger for her descent into hell, Dustin begins to look into the background of a respected therapist. As he comes closer to the truth about this strange and troubled "healer," Dustin finds himself afflicted with a condition even more bizarre and terrifying than Martie's. No fan of psychological suspense will want to miss this extraordinary novel of the human mind's capacity to torment--and destroy. Dean Koontz once more reveals why he has, asPeopleput it, the "power to scare the daylights out of us."


Author Notes

Dean Koontz was born on July 9, 1945 in Everett, Pennsylvania. He received a degree in education from Shippensburg State College in 1967. A former high school English teacher as well as a teacher-counselor with the Appalachian Poverty Program, he began writing as a child to escape an ugly home life caused by his alcoholic father. A prolific writer at a young age, he had sold a dozen novels by the age of 25. Early in his career, he wrote under numerous pen names including David Axton, Brian Coffey, K. R. Dwyer, Leigh Nichols, Richard Paige, and Owen West. He is best known for the books written under his own name, many of which are bestsellers, including Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, The Husband, Odd Hours, 77 Shadow Street, Innocence, The City, Saint Odd, and The Silent Corner.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Some days, you just shoulda stayed in bed. Martie Rhodes has a day like that when, up to her regular chore of taking her severely agoraphobic friend, Susan, to the psychotherapist, she is periodically seized by panic. It's not like Susan's panic over being out in the open, but instead it is the feeling that every everyday object that could be a weapon--knives, forks, tools, wine bottles, etc.--will be, and that she will use them to assault her husband. Meanwhile, said spouse, house-painting contractor Dusty (sic), is having his own overly interesting morning, risking his neck on a client's tile roof as he tries to save his half-brother Skeet's neck; the lad is high again, on God knows what all, and has decided to ascend to the angels via a head-down, 40-foot descent to the hard asphalt driveway. Both Martie and Dusty succeed in their errands of mercy, but later, Martie goes round the bend at home while waiting for Dusty, and Dusty, after settling Skeet in detox and observing him fall suddenly into a tres weird faux coma and then wake from it as suddenly, starts feeling paranoid himself, especially after he gets home and discovers most of the household utensils in the trash can and Martie chopping the yard tools to smithereens. Is all this just coincidence? In a Dean Koontz novel, no way! Evil therapy, referred to pointedly but obliquely by the book's title, is the ultimate culprit in a tale that is remarkably engaging, despite having so many pages and so little plot. --Ray Olson


Library Journal Review

Koontz's latest novel should please his longtime fans but probably not newcomers. Martie Rhodes takes her best friend, Susan, to therapy sessions twice a week. Susan suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of crowds, which leaves her afraid to leave her apartment. Getting Susan to therapy is hard enough, but on this particular day it gets even harder. Earlier that morning, Martie looked at herself in the mirror and found she was terrified of her reflection. She has developed autophobia, a fear of self. With the vilest villain Koontz has created, the truth behind their phobias will be more horrible than Susan or Martie can imagine. False Memory could have been trimmed by 200 pages and not lost any impact. Still, the characters are rich, and the main story is compelling. Though it is not great Koontz, good Koontz is still better than most and should be added to general fiction collection. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/99.]--Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

On that Tuesday in January, when her life changed forever, Martine Rhodes woke with a headache, developed a sour stomach after washing down two aspirin with grapefruit juice, guaranteed herself an epic bad-hair day by mistakenly using Dustin's shampoo instead of her own, broke a fingernail, burnt her toast, discovered ants swarming through the cabinet under the kitchen sink, eradicated the pests by firing a spray can of insecticide as ferociously as Sigourney Weaver wielded a flamethrower in one of those old extraterrestrial-bug movies, cleaned up the resultant carnage with paper towels, hummed Bach's Requiem as she solemnly consigned the tiny bodies to the trash can, and took a telephone call from her mother, Sabrina, who still prayed for the collapse of Martie's marriage three years after the wedding. Throughout, she remained upbeat--even enthusiastic--about the day ahead, because from her late father, Robert "Smilin' Bob" Woodhouse, she had inherited an optimistic nature, formidable coping skills, and a deep love of life in addition to blue eyes, ink-black hair, and ugly toes. Thanks, Daddy. After convincing her ever hopeful mother that the Rhodes marriage remained happy, Martie slipped into a leather jacket and took her golden retriever, Valet, on his morning walk. Step by step, her headache faded. Along the whetstone of clear eastern sky, the sun sharpened scalpels of light. Out of the west, however, a cool onshore breeze pushed malignant masses of dark clouds. The dog regarded the heavens with concern, sniffed the air warily, and pricked his pendant ears at the hiss-clatter of palm fronds stirred by the wind. Clearly, Valet knew a storm was coming. He was a gentle, playful dog. Loud noises frightened him, however, as though he had been a soldier in a former life and was haunted by memories of battlefields blasted by cannon fire. Fortunately for him, rotten weather in southern California was seldom accompanied by thunder. Usually, rain fell unannounced, hissing on the streets, whispering through the foliage, and these were sounds that even Valet found soothing. Most mornings, Martie walked the dog for an hour, along the narrow tree-lined streets of Corona Del Mar, but she had a special obligation every Tuesday and Thursday that limited their excursion to fifteen minutes on those days. Valet seemed to have a calendar in his furry head, because on their Tuesday and Thursday expeditions, he never dawdled, finishing his toilet close to home. This morning, only one block from their house, on the grassy sward between the sidewalk and the curb, the pooch looked around shyly, discreetly lifted his right leg, and as usual made water as though embarrassed by the lack of privacy. Less than a block farther, he was preparing to conclude the second half of his morning business when a passing garbage truck backfired, startling him. He huddled behind a queen palm, peering cautiously around one side of the tree bole and then around the other, convinced that the terrifying vehicle would reappear. "No problem," Martie assured him. "The big bad truck is gone. Everything's fine. This is now a safe-to-poop zone." Valet was unconvinced. He remained wary. Martie was blessed with Smilin' Bob's patience, too, especially when dealing with Valet, whom she loved almost as much as she might have loved a child if she'd had one. He was sweet-tempered and beautiful: light gold, with gold-and-white feathering on his legs, soft snow-white flags on his butt, and a lush tail. Of course, when the dog was in a doing-business squat, like now, Martie never looked at him, because he was as self-conscious as a nun in a topless bar. While waiting, she softly sang Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle," which always relaxed him. As she began the second verse, a sudden chill climbed the ladder of her spine, causing her to fall silent. She was not a woman given to premonitions, but as the icy quiver ascended to the back of her neck, she was overcome by a sense of impending danger. Turning, she half expected to see an approaching assailant or a hurtling car. Instead, she was alone on this quiet residential street. Nothing rushed toward her with lethal purpose. The only moving things were those harried by the wind. Trees and shrubs shivered. A few crisp brown leaves skittered along the pavement. Garlands of tinsel and Christmas lights, from the recent holiday, rustled and rattled under the eaves of a nearby house. Still uneasy, but feeling foolish, Martie let out the breath that she'd been holding. When the exhalation whistled between her teeth, she realized that her jaws were clenched. She was probably still spooked from the dream that awakened her after midnight, the same one she'd had on a few other recent nights. The man made of dead, rotting leaves, a nightmare figure. Whirling, raging. Then her gaze dropped to her elongated shadow, which stretched across the close-cropped grass, draped the curb, and folded onto the cracked concrete pavement. Inexplicably, her uneasiness swelled into alarm. She took one step backward, then a second, and of course her shadow moved with her. Only as she retreated a third step did she realize that this very silhouette was what frightened her. Ridiculous. More absurd than her dream. Yet something in her shadow was not right: a jagged distortion, a menacing quality. Her heart knocked as hard as a fist on a door. In the severe angle of the morning sun, the houses and trees cast distorted images, too, but she saw nothing fearsome in their stretched and buckled shadows--only in her own. She recognized the absurdity of her fear, but this awareness did not diminish her anxiety. Terror courted her, and she stood hand in hand with panic. The shadow seemed to throb with the thick slow beat of its own heart. Staring at it, she was overcome with dread. Martie closed her eyes and tried to get control of herself. For a moment, she felt so light that the wind seemed strong enough to sweep her up and carry her inland with the relentlessly advancing clouds, toward the steadily shrinking band of cold blue sky. As she drew a series of deep breaths, however, weight gradually returned to her. When she dared to look again at her shadow, she no longer sensed anything unusual about it. She let out a sigh of relief. Her heart continued to pound, powered not by irrational terror anymore, but by an understandable concern as to the cause of this peculiar episode. She'd never previously experienced such a thing. Head cocked quizzically, Valet was staring at her. She had dropped his leash. Her hands were damp with sweat. She blotted her palms on her blue jeans. When she realized that the dog had finished his toilet, Martie slipped her right hand into a plastic pet-cleanup bag, using it as a glove. Being a good neighbor, she neatly collected Valet's gift, turned the bright blue bag inside out, twisted it shut, and tied a double knot in the neck. The retriever watched her sheepishly. "If you ever doubt my love, baby boy," Martie said, "remember I do this every day." Valet looked grateful. Or perhaps only relieved. Performance of this familiar, humble task restored her mental balance. The little blue bag and its warm contents anchored her to reality. The weird incident remained troubling, intriguing, but it no longer frightened her. Excerpted from False Memory by Dean Koontz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.