Strange Highways

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Dean Koontz has established himself as one of the most prolific and respected authors of suspense and horror novels. He has written numerous bestsellers, including PHANTOMS (1983), WATCHERS (1987), THE BAD PLACE (1990), COLD FIRE (1991), MR. MURDER (1993), and DARK RIVERS OF THE HEART (1994). In STRANGE HIGHWAYS, Koontz has brought together some of the short stories he has written over the years. The earliest story, “Kittens,” was first published in 1966. Of the fourteen stories included in the collection, only the short novel, “Strange Highways,” has never been published before. The majority of the other works have been revised for STRANGE HIGHWAYS.

In the title story, a brother is given the chance to correct a mistake he made many years ago. His older brother had been a hero to him, but he is shocked to discover that this fine and respected brother of his is also a cold-blooded murderer of young women. Fate gives him a second chance to bring his brother to justice. The quest is not without its pitfalls, but he stays the course for the public good and the good of his own soul. In “Down in the Darkness,” an American veteran of the Vietnam War gets a chance to exact revenge on an enemy soldier who had tortured him during the war. There is also a lighthearted story, “Bruno,” in which the Walt Disney Corporation makes handguns. While some of the stories of STRANGE HIGHWAYS must be considered slight, on the whole Koontz has put together an imaginative and varied collection that should add to the author’s already growing reputation.