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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 25 November 2001
Originally published under the pseudonym K R Dwyer, this is Koontz's reworked version of one of his early works.
Chase, a straight psychological suspense novel, tells the story of Vietnam veteran Ben Chase a reluctant war hero who would rather drown his memories with alcohol than be in the spotlight. But when he witnesses a murder and saves an intended victim, he finds himself in the spotlight once more but this time the murderer is after him too.
This short novel is a quick, gripping read with an intriguing protagonist but when I read is I couldn't help feeling that there was something missing. Compared to many other novels this is a great read but it's not as good as Koontz more recent work. Nevertheless, this is worth a read if only to see how Koontz's style has developed.
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VINE VOICEon 1 December 2006
212 pages (includes 2 page 1995 author's note forward). Originally penned under the name of K. R. DWYER in 1972, revised in 1995.

It is the early 70's and Ben Chase has survived Vietnam. However, the horrors of war still haunt him. He has nightmares about the enemy, some female, which he had no choice but to kill during the war.

His life back home consists of eating little and drinking a lot. He can't sleep - instead he read books and watches old movies on TV until a restless sleep eventually comes.

Things get worse when he is honoured by his hometown for bravery during the war. Chase can't understand why this should happen. Why should someone who had killed woman be honoured? He reluctantly accepts the honour along with a brand new sports car.

While driving the sports car for the first time things get even worse. He is sitting in a local secluded area frequented by lovers in their cars. He sees a shadowy figure slowly moving towards a car. His soldier senses kick in, he follows the figure but he is too late. The figure strikes, murdering a teenage boy in a car but Chase does enough to save his girlfriend from a similar fate.

Once again Chase is a hero. But Chase is now a victim. That murderer, known as "The Judge", has decided that Chase should be investigated to see if he is worthy of living or dying. After investigation, The Judge decides that Chase is not worth and should be his next victim. It's a race against time - Chase has to find the identity of The Judge before he becomes a victim of his murderous intentions.

The first half of this book really had me gripped. Chase is a brilliant character. You really feel empathy for him and hope that he manages to get out of his downward spiral of self-loathing. The introduction of The Judge ups the pace and the suspense of the book.

The only criticism I have of the book is the introduction of the "love interest" character Glenda. Glenda, like Chase, is a typical Koontz character - a good but scarred person. Chase and Glenda instantly become soul mates. Chase has his Vietnam problems and Glenda is a survivor of sexual abuse from her father. The speed in which their relationship develops is a bit hard to believe. And Glenda is nowhere near as well a developed character as Chase. However, this is a minor quibble but is one of the reasons preventing the book from getting a perfect 10/10 rating.

Considering it's the earliest in print Koontz book it makes remarkably good reading. Sure, Glenda could have been better developed and perhaps the The Judge could have been explored further. However, there is something to be said for just over 200 pages of page-turning excitement. This is a book that could easily be read in one sitting.

As with the 1973 follow-up "Shattered", Koontz sets the book perfectly in early 70's America. You get a feel for the Vietnam years from the point of view of a surviving soldier and the ignorance of Middle America. It's most definitely a book of that time but it hasn't aged badly and actually enhances the story.

As with "Shattered", this is not a complex novel. 212 pages are all you get but the story does grip and Chase is one of the more interesting characters of that era in Koontz's writing.

8/10
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on 21 May 2006
Dean Koontz is a prolific writer of thriller novels having written over 50 novels in the past 35 years under various names. Up until "Chase", I had never read any of his work, so I thought I'd start with his earliest stuff with the intention of reading all of his Headline published releases. "Chase" was originally released under the K W Dwyer name, written in the early 70s, but not released until the mid 80s.

Ben Chase is a war hero that is haunted by his horrifying experience in Vietnam. The guilt that he feels affects his everyday life and he has become reliant upon alcohol to simply get by. His existence is a cheerless routine that will lead to an inevitably sad and lonely end. Yet after witnessing a murder and saving the life of a would-be victim, Ben becomes the serial killers next intended kill. Or is he just imagining this plot due to his unstable condition? What follows is a thriller in the most literal sense and one which involves action, clues, sex and suspense.

I ripped through this book in 2 days, mainly due to its relatively short length (240 pages), but also due to the fact I couldn't put it down. It gets straight into the action from the first paragraph and really doesn't muck around with heavy descriptions or background information. Koontz tells this story very efficiently and the reader can't help but be pulled in, never hesitating to turn the page to find out what happens next. But this is by no means a perfect novel. Koontz was only 25 when he wrote it and although the book is thoroughly gripping, the characters and the action seem somewhat amateurish at times. It's hard to be concerned for Ben when the serial killer that's after him is hopeless at what he does. Instead of the usual chilling, professional hitman from other stories, we have a bumbling, inaccurate, motiveless loser that is much less a killer than our hero. Also, gorgeous sexpot Glenda's understanding reaction to Ben's completely insane (not to mention impotent) first date antics is a little far-fetched. I can't help but get the feeling that Koontz was going through a bit of a hormonal period himself when he wrote this as there are some rather off-putting and seemingly unnecessary sexually charged thought processes throughout. But there is simply not enough time to ponder these anomalies in what is a very enjoyable, based on infinite clichés, yet somehow original and enjoyable story. I'm looking forward to reading his next books.
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on 11 April 2011
This was a brilliant book. Nice fast read. As it was my first Dean Koontz book i have read I wanted to start of with something light. Was a good thrilling read that kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. I will be sinking my teeth into alot more Dean Koontz books for sure.
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on 17 October 2013
This is an early piece of work from Dean Koontz. I'd read a few of his later books largely as he's next to Stephen King in the book stores. His writing can be hit and miss - sometimes nailing suspense and drama (The Face), sometimes feeling cliched and odd. Rarely as consistently gripping as King, although he doesn't write such long books generally.

This is 200-odd pages and I nearly put it down after struggling to identify with the main hero after his frankly bizarre intervention in a stabbing.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The climax is also odd - why would the hero confront Judge unarmed? Should we be surprised when Judge whips out the very gun we already knew he owned? This got me thinking... was the Judge actually real? Various clues point to this, no-one else interacts with the Judge (even Glenda), the fact that Judge didn't call once the police are listening... but most compelling of all is how Judge knew that he'd shacked up with Glenda. As the narrator says, Judge could not have possibly followed him. This would also explain why Judge was so inept at killing Chase. And "Killing" Judge at the end might just be a metaphor for Chase slaying some his demons (did he confuse Judge's abuse of the slain Michael with some supressed childhood memories?)

Thoughts? Comments? (Or links to where this might have been discussed?)
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As usual, Dean Koontz brings us a fabulous character who is thrust, unwillingly, into a dangerous situation. Like all his characters, Chase is realistic and believable, bringing alive the story.

Chase is by no means a straightforward character, but then in real life who is? I did like him, however, despite his flaws.

A very good story, as I've come to expect with this author.
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on 26 April 2014
This book was just what I wanted to read- short, snappy, intriguing and to the point. There was no extraneous descriptions or lengthy prose. The plot speeds along and while it may lack subtlety, its an incredibly easy read.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2010
Great vintage Koontz, tightly plotted, full of twists and well written. Ben Chase is a Vietnam vet, feted as a war hero but fighting traumatic memories with drink and social withdrawal. When he stops at the local lovers' lane he cannot but intervene when he hears screaming, and disturbs a vicious attack on two teenagers, the boy dead from multiple stab wounds, the girl curled with fear in the other seat. But the killer has carefully selected the couple, does not appreciate Chase's intervention and starts making threatening phone calls naming himself only as 'Judge'. The killer makes it clear that he knows a lots about Chase's past and is prepared to hurt him and those he cares about to punish him. The police don't believe Chase, believing him delusional after consulting with his psychiatrist, and when Chase meets the beautiful Glenda and suddenly has a lot more to lose he turns the tables and the hunted becomes the hunter. Really good, satisfying and makes you think about judgement and the lack of right we have to judge others.
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on 30 July 2012
Its fast, crazy and makes your heart throb with life.
A Short read but straight to the point, not a book to start off with.

I recommend reading Phantoms, Watchers or odd Thomas to start off with rather than his earlier work like Night chills, Shattered or The Face of Fear.

3 stars is a worthy rate..
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on 21 August 2011
If you are planing to pay full price for this you must be out of your mind. WHile the story is quite entertaining, and easy to read, it's so short that it's really only worth paying a couple of quid. I read it in about 2 hours. I did enjoy it, but the plot is pretty basic (though not necessarily predictable) - there is no complexity to it.

Worth reading, but watch what you pay.
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