The Early Thrillers of Dean Koontz

Essays on the Evolution of a Writer, 1966–1997


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About the Book

Born into poverty with an abusive home life, Dean Koontz found a respite in books. As he began a writing career in the late 1960s, Koontz began injecting the dark experiences of his own life into his literature, and autobiography became a central thematic element of his thrillers, science fiction and horror stories. Even Koontz’s earliest pieces, like Star Quest and Demon Seed, are tapestries of raw, varied and energetic storylines equally as worthy of examination as his later popular novels.
This compilation of essays examines the fiction of Dean Koontz, from his earliest literary efforts in the 1960s and ’70s to his emergence as a bestselling author of suspense. Written by some of the top experts in popular culture studies, these essays will appeal to the many fans of Dean Koontz’s work, as well as to general readers of popular thrillers. It is the first study to approach the evolution of major themes and intricacies in Koontz’s early career as a bestselling author.

About the Author(s)

Award winner Gary Hoppenstand is a professor in the department of English at Michigan State University. He has published numerous books and more than sixty scholarly articles on topics ranging from popular culture studies to literary studies to media studies. He lives in Holt, Michigan.

Garyn G. Roberts is a multiple award-winning author, university and college faculty member and administrator. He is the author of a number of articles and books on diverse American culture topics. He lives in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Gary Hoppenstand and Garyn G. Roberts
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 217
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3452-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4640-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Dean R. Koontz: An Introduction
Gary Hoppenstand and Garyn G. Roberts 1
The Creative Force in the Life and Stories of Dean Koontz
Katherine Ramsland 7
Journeying Down Strange Highways: The Short Fiction of Dean Koontz
Gary Hoppenstand 24
Transformational Inversions: Dean R. Koontz’s Rhetorical Poetics of the Marginalized
Carl B. Holmberg 34
Not in the Public Interest: Science and Scientists in the “Dark Suspense” Novels of Dean Koontz
Rhonda L. Harris Taylor 57
None Is Pure from Sin: The Catholicism of Dean Koontz
Frank A. Salamone 83
Bad Trips: The 1960s and Dean Koontz’s Serial Killer Novels
Etta C. Abrahams 95
The Ubiquitous Evil: Child Abuse in Dean Koontz’s Thrillers
Patricia W. Julius 109
Edges of Perception in Dean Koontz’s Mask
Donald Secreast 130
Of Golden Retrievers and Hideous Monsters: Dean R. Koontz’s Watchers
Garyn G. Roberts 145
Gothic Evolutions: Back to The Island of Dr. Moreau in Dean Ray Koontz’s Midnight
Bennett Lovett-Graff 175
Suspense and the Spiritual: Tensions of Fate and Faith in Sole Survivor
Katherine Ramsland 194
About the Contributors 207
Index 209