Picks and Pans Review: The Face

updated 06/02/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/02/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Dean Koontz

Ethan Truman has a great job working as chief of security for actor Channing Manheim, a.k.a. "the Face," who for the past 12 years has been the biggest box office draw in the world. Unfortunately Truman has to contend with a typically colorful Koontz villain, Corky Laputa, a madman and committed anarchist who is planning an assault on the Face's mansion. Truman rejoins his former partner, detective Hazard Yancy, to protect the Face and his 10-year-old son Fric from the imaginative and murderous Laputa. The crime-fighters don't lack courage, which is good, especially when an otherworldly force starts appearing and delivering cryptic messages.

As the plot marches steadily to a rewarding climax, Koontz keeps his roster of interesting characters well stocked. And he has a knack for making the bizarre and uncanny seem as commonplace as a sunrise. As one of his characters says, "I can only tell you what happened, Mr. Truman, not a damn thing about why." Don't think too hard and you'll enjoy the ride. (Bantam, $26.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Still the Dean of suspense

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