Picks and Pans Review: Dragon Tears

updated 02/15/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/15/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Dean Koontz

Detective Harry Lyon leads an orderly life. His house is as spotless as his appearance or his meticulous police reports. Then, one sunny day, Harry's neat world explodes. He kills a man during his lunch hour.

Minutes after his bullet pierces the heart of a crazed criminal, Lyon is confronted by a hulking homeless man who, before vanishing into the crowd, warns him that he will die before the next dawn. When the warnings mysteriously persist into the night, Lyon and his partner, Connie Gulliver, pursue the homeless man.

The two cops are unaware that what they are chasing can assume any form it wishes, human or animal, and that it has already been wreaking havoc on the homeless community surrounding them. All they do know is that whenever the homeless man is seen, death and destruction follow.

Koontz (Hideaway) has crafted a solid blend of police procedural and horror novel. He keeps central characters credible as the action turns incredible, all the while raising fear in the reader. Though the dialogue can border on the hokey ("Gotta be in sync with the rhythms of destruction," Connie tells Harry), the take-a-deep-breath ending alone is worth the price of the ticket. (Putnam, $22.95)

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