Mr. Murder

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Dean Koontz has become one of the publishing world’s most successful authors with his brand of horror fiction. MR. MURDER is his twenty-second novel and one of his most terrifying and satisfying reading experiences. Mystery writer Martin Stillwater, his wife, Paige, and their two daughters, Emily and Charlotte, live in Southern California. Stillwater’s latest mystery seems bound to be a bestseller, and even PEOPLE magazine does a feature article on him and his life. Into this seemingly perfect existence is introduced a monster in human form, who happens to look exactly like Martin Stillwater. This creature is a cold-blooded killer, who lays waste to many individuals on his way across the country toward California. The killer does not really understand why he needs to head for California, but something inside him pushes him ever onward. Even though Stillwater seemingly has no clue that a monster is en route to his area, he begins to have feelings of uneasiness and strategically places guns within the family home. As a consummate popular novelist, Koontz is at his best when setting up the ever-building tension within which good and evil must ultimately do battle.

The killer—or, as he later becomes identified, “the Other”—confronts Stillwater in his home and wants to know why the mystery writer has stolen his life. This “Other” believes that he should be the husband, the father, the man with the perfect life. In due course the reader learns that the killer was created by a mysterious organization known as the Network. It is also revealed that the monster’s mind has been molded by images that he has seen in motion pictures. The Stillwaters are able to escape the killer and the chase commences. Innocent people who get in the way are murdered, but the authorities seem reluctant to believe what is really happening. Koontz never lets the pace lag, and the tension constantly builds until a fitting conclusion jumps off the page.