Page-turner of the week
Koontz's latest characters seem a lot further than one door from heaven. Twentysomething Michelina (Micky) Bellsong is battling a drinking problem and has just spent 16 months in prison, thanks to a slimy ex-boyfriend who left her holding the bag for his criminal exploits. Her Aunt Geneva is a good-hearted soul with a shaky grip on reality: She was shot in the head during a grocery store robbery 18 years earlier, leaving her unable to distinguish between her own memories and the story lines of her favorite films.
Still, their problems pale in comparison to those of the new neighbor in their Southern California trailer park: Leilani Klonk, a precocious 9-year-old with a deformed hand and leg who has a drug addict for a mother and believes her stepfather is planning to murder her before her 10th birthday.
Complicated? Yes. But never one to skimp on plot, Koontz is just getting started. He also manages to weave in bits about a mysterious 10-year-old boy fleeing the men who murdered his mother; extraterrestrial visitors; and utilitarian bioethics, a philosophy advocating euthanasia of the sick and disabled. Mixing suspense, science fiction, humor and plenty of heart, One Door Away from. Heaven is a thriller that inspires both chills and serious thought. (Bantam, $26.95)
Bottom Line: Spooky and satisfying