Intensity starts brightly—with two young women, Chyna Shepherd and Laura Templeton, driving from San Francisco to Laura's family's roomy country retreat. The friends talk about recurrent dreams: In hers, Laura flies with "gorgeous blue-winged birds," but Chyna's dreams are grounded in nightmare. "Sooner or later in every dream," she says, "there is a bogeyman."
The bogeyman comes sooner in Koontz's 29th thriller, which should titillate his devoted fans. Edgier Foreman Vess, a handsome, blue-eyed serial killer, comes during the night when everyone but Chyna is asleep. As kinky as they come, Vess—who collects dolls and keeps Doberman pinschers that snap to attention when he yells "Nietzsche!"—delights in his own pain. But he is positively transported by the agony of others.
Alerted by screams, Chyna discovers that Laura and her parents have been slaughtered. And Chyna, who has never committed herself to anyone or anything, decides to avenge Laura and give Vess a dose of his own medicine.
Koontz is an indifferent stylist, and his characters are about an inch deep. But the reader who likes his horror ladled out at regular intervals should find this suits his appetite. (Knopf, $25)