Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz


SuspenseLife Expectancy by Dean Koontz Life Expectancy
Dean Ray Koontz; Bantam Books 2004

The night Jimmy Tock was born, his grandfather died. Before his death, the old man woke up long enough to predict the time of Jimmy’s birth, his weight, and five terrible days in Jimmy’s future. The man died the same minute Jimmy was born. In the delivery room Maddy Tock was having a difficult delivery.

So was another woman – the wife of a clown from a traveling circus. She died. Her husband blamed the doctor, killed the doctor, killed a nurse, took his baby boy, and tried to find the other nurse he was able to get out of the hospital. Fortunately Maddy came back to consciousness and Jimmy was safe with the other nurse hidden in a closet. But his birth date is not one of the five days his grandfather predicted.

As the first of those days approaches, the Tock family prepares. But no one, especially a family of bakers and artists, can prepare for what is coming in Jimmy’s surprising life. Each subsequent day adds another twist and surprise for Jimmy, then his wife and children as well.

Life Expectancy caught me by surprise. I enjoy Dean Koontz’ work when it doesn’t tip too far over into horror. For some reason I thought it was one of those. Instead I found a humorous, twisty-turny, edge of the seat suspense with enough elements of horror to uphold Koontz’ style and tone of the book.

Jimmy Tock narrates Life Expectancy in first person except when his wife takes over at the end. His family is unusual – for example their normal day starts around 5 PM and ends around 9 AM – baker’s hours. They live in a small resort town in the Rockies. Grandma tells macabre stories that add to the comedic tone and keep this suspense light rather than the dark tale it could be.

Life Expectancy is well paced and keeps the reader pulled in. Each of the five days reveals another twist to try to change Jimmy’s life. But this baker has a strong character – and tells a great story.

Notice: Non-graphic violence, Strong language

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