Picks and Pans Review: By the Light of the Moon

updated 01/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Dean Koontz

Koontz's quirky little adventure begins when traveling artist Dylan O'Conner and struggling comedian Jilly Jackson, both guests at an Arizona motel, are attacked by a mad scientist who injects them with a syringe of mystery fluid. This ersatz Dr. Frankenstein promises his unwitting victims profound psychotropic effects and also mentions that they will now be hunted to the death by shadowy forces trying to destroy his research, so they'd better start running. Run they do, but after an obligatory round of getting under each other's skins, Dylan and Jilly begin to manifest super-powers, seeing visions of future events and endangered people whom they feel compelled to save.

Koontz's prose is florid as ever: "She envied his evident certainty, but instead of being able to use that envy to stoke a little fire of healthy anger that might chase off the chill of inadequacy, she settled deeper into a cold bath of humility," he writes, lingering a little too long at the all-you-can-eat buffet of metaphor. But surefire plotting and a roster of characters built out of painful tragedies make the pages move. Underneath the comic-book elements, Koontz has a touching faith in the human spirit. (Bantam, $25.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Full Moon

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