Dark Rivers of the Heart

ISBN: 0739341448
ISBN 13: 9780739341445
By: Dean Koontz Anthony Heald

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About this book

A man and a woman meet by chance in a bar. Suddenly they are fleeing the long arm of a clandestine and increasingly powerful renegade government agency -- the woman hunted for the information she possesses, the man mistaken as her comrade in a burgeoning resistance movement.The architect of the chase is a man of uncommon madness and cruelty -- ruthless, possibly psychotic, and equipped with a vast technological arsenal. He is the brazen face of an insidiously fascistic future. And he is virtually unstoppable. But he has never before come up against the likes of his current quarry. Both of them are survivors of singularly horrific pasts. Both have long been emboldened by their experiences to fight with reckless courage for their own freedom. Now they are plunged into a struggle for the freedom of their country, and for the sanctity of their own lives.Dark Rivers of the Heart is an electrifying thriller that steers us along the razor edge of a familiar, terrifying reality.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Reader's Thoughts

Matt Barker

Another great book by Dean Koontz. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. The books are great, the humor is welcome, and they usually keep me reading until late into the night.Publisher's SummarySpencer Grant had no idea what drew him to the bar with the red door. He thought he would just sit down, have a slow beer or two, and talk to a stranger. He couldn't know that it would lead to a narrow escape from a bungalow targeted by a SWAT team. Or that it would leave him a wanted man.Now he is on the run from mysterious and ruthless men. He is in love with a woman he knows next to nothing about. And he is hiding from a past he can't fully remember. On his trail is a shadowy security agency that answers to no one, including the U.S. government, and a man who considers himself a compassionate Angel of Death. But worst of all, Spencer Grant is on a collision course with inner demons he thought he'd buried years ago - inner demons that could destroy him if his enemies don't first.


Like in his other books, this one also has weird characters in the persons of Roy and Eve - 2 people, lovers actually, who have a common mission of bringing perfection to the world by killing those they think are imperfect. The book describes a society where there are a lot of secret, sinister (even evil) workings by very powerful people in government. It's appalling to think about it and it's probably exagerated, but it can be true for all we know. Just as it is acknowledged that evil is very much present, what I like about Dean Koontz's books (at least for the ones I've read so far), is that the good always triumphs at the end - and he weaves a story that even though it's kind of formulaic, I still looked forward to seeing it through.

Jane Stewart

3 ½ stars. Excellent action and suspense with smart things being done. But the ending was bad - took away the fun.POLITICAL ISSUES:Instead of a tidy, wrapped up, happy ending, things are unstable and open. The U.S. is not a good place to be. The bad guys (government) have NOT been stopped. They are compared to fascist Germany. The author wants readers angry at U.S. government abuses, hopefully to help bring about change. It sounds good to me. I’d love to see those changes. So, this book does have educational value. The main political issue is asset forfeiture laws. The U.S. govt can “suspect” someone of illegal activity, then seize their home, cars, all bank accounts and investments. They don’t have to prove anything in a court of law or in front of a jury. All they need is a sympathetic judge to sign an order - similar to getting a search warrant. This was meant to hurt drug dealers, but it’s being overused and applied in non-drug cases. I’m offended that asset forfeiture laws cannot be used against any congressman - how nice to exempt themselves.In a 1994 interview at the end of the audiobook Dean Koontz states we’re living on the brink of a new dark age. To preserve democracy three things need to be done. 1. We must revoke all asset forfeiture laws in their entirety. 2. The congress must cease exempting it’s members from laws passed to govern the rest of us. 3. Congress must stop enacting laws that criminalize beliefs that are politically incorrect or unusual but that harm no one. These are what George Orwell termed “thought crimes.” OPINION ON THE STORY:It was a good suspense story. A couple of people are on the run from a secret government organization. The organization has access to every possible computer database and can hijack satellites to spy. Some parts were slow and could have been shortened. But most of the story was very entertaining with a lot of good events and action. But the untidy, open ending let me down. It did not satisfy my escapist entertainment needs.The narrator Anthony Heald was above average.STORY BRIEF:A former cop and military guy Spencer is living off the grid with fake names and addresses. He meets cocktail waitress Valerie and feels a desire and hope that he might have a life with her. When he later goes to her apartment a SWAT team attacks. He barely escapes. A government agency is now after Spencer as well as Valerie, and he doesn’t know why. He starts searching for her, and he’s good at it.There is not much time spent on child abuse, but it’s the reason behind some Spencer issues. There are a couple of scenes where a child witnesses violence.AUTHOR’S THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT OF CHILDHOOD ABUSE AND HATING THE ABUSER:Following are excerpts from an interview with Dean Koontz at the end of the audiobook. I found it very interesting and helpful. Maybe others will too. So I’ve included it below.Interviewer: You’ve referred to your own troubled childhood under the thumb of a father who was a violent alcoholic and later diagnosed as borderline schizophrenic with tendencies to violence. How much did you draw on your experience?Koontz: I remember pretty clearly all of my childhood and have drawn on it rather extensively in a number of books. In his later life my father made two attempts to kill me. The second time was in front of a considerable number of witnesses, and he was put into a psychiatric ward. I was in charge of his life at that point. I supported him for the last fourteen years of his life. So I had daily contact almost. And it was an unusual situation to have contact with somebody you had known all of your life you had believed all of your life might kill you or your mother every night. As a child I expected that to happen. And here as an adult, the attempt had finally been made. So I drew on a lot of that.Interviewer: I know that you receive a lot of mail from people who were physically or psychologically abused as children and that they relate very strongly to your portrayal of those subjects in some of your books. Do you think it’s possible to endure a nightmarish childhood like that and ever really put it behind you?Koontz: You never really forget it, but you can certainly put it behind you. A lot of people who write to me have trouble putting it behind them. It’s messed up their whole life, up to whatever point they’re at, and I say to them that the key is to accept the fact that you will hate the person that did this to you and that’s alright. They earned your hatred. And it’s fine to hate them. The point is not to let that hate consume you. You have to put it behind you. You have to go on with your life. And you have to say this happened. It was terrible, but it’s over, and I can go on. A lot of people get caught up in thinking they have to forgive. Personally I don’t believe you have to forgive. You can understand sometimes why the person did it to you. Much of the time you can’t understand evil. It’s not understandable. So you go on. If you allow yourself to become fixated on it, if you allow it to trouble you all your life, you’ll never have a life. The person who abused you as a child has won. And that’s the last thing you want.DATA:Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook reading time: 19 hrs and 24 mins. Swearing language: s*** used once, I think. Sexual content: a few sex scenes were vaguely referred to, no details. They included self pleasuring. Setting: around 1994, mostly California, Nevada and Colorado. Book copyright: 1994. Genre: suspense thriller. Ending: good guys and most bad guys survive.OTHER BOOKS:For a list of my reviews of other Dean Koontz books, see my 5 star review of Lightninghttp://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Dustin Crazy little brown owl

I didn't really like this when I first read it. I recently tried to re-read it with the Koontzland - Dean Koontz group when it was chosen as a group read but I just couldn't get into it so I'm putting it aside.


What the hell!? 700 pages and not even a decent ending. I shouldn't have expected any less from Koontz, Mr. I couldn't write a good ending if my life depended on it! I wanted a clear answer about what happened to these characters I had grown to like on this long journey. But no the bad guys are still on top even though I'm pretty sure Roy should be dead after he was blasted by a death ray, yes, you read right, a death ray. And they changed all the characters names at the end and I got a bit confused with who was who. And because it was written in the early 90s, it's like Koontz has just discovered the internet and hacking. A bit like he's trying to show off how up to date he is with technology. I'm also disppointed with this because I thought this would be a horror but it's not. Just another thriller. Don't get me wrong the book was alright and like I said before I did genuinely like the main characters and the dog. I was just expecting more.

Lynn Manning

This book just didn't do it for me. I'm a huge Koontz fan and I was pretty disappointed with this one. There were parts I really enjoyed and felt had the intensity that most of his novels have.. but MOST of the book moved too slow for me. I also didn't feel any closer at the end. I wouldn't recommend this book of his.


Good points: The first 95% of this book was mostly what I love about the good Koontz books - pulls-you-along, heart-pounding thriller material. Kinky, quirky characters. Also, Koontz' scintillating intelligence is featured throughout, adding an element of wonder to the story. Bad points: Author dragged out the mystery of what was haunting one of the protagonists a bit too long. Got to the point where I just skipped ahead already, something I am usually too disciplined to do. Also, one of the psycho characters was over the top. I thought the gore was a bit beneath this brilliant author. And in the last couple chapters, one of the narrative threads veered into ludicrous territory. Overall: Koontz is great, what can I say? But I still think The Face is his best (that I've read, anyway - still lots to go).

Alex Gherzo

This was the third Dean Koontz book I read and it wasn't nearly as good as Watchers or Lightning. Spencer, the main character, is too much of an enigma to be very interesting (sometimes this works, like in The Bourne Identity, but not here) and he wasn't given enough character traits to make him come alive (talking to his dog isn't enough). Also, I didn't buy that he fell in love with "Valerie" overnight. Maybe if that night were depicted in the book, but we just have to take Spencer's (and Koontz') word for it. I like Valerie/Ellie much more, but she doesn't show up until halfway through the novel. There are also stretches that are just plain boring, like Spencer's 50-page ride down a makeshift river during a storm. Finally, the ending was very unsatisfying. It felt like Koontz was disguising a long anti-government rant as a novel but forgot to make the novel interesting. The only reason the book was even okay was Roy Miro, the villain. He was a terrific character, and deserving of a much better book.

Julie Reed

This is my first Dean Koontz book and I went right out and bought another one after I finished this one. I like his style. Hardly a boring moment in this book which is a lot for me to say as I get bored very easily. He writes spooky, thrilling, and creepy really well! Can't wait to read more of him.

Ally Atherton

One man walks into a bar with a red door, looking for the woman who could save his life. The same man is walking around with a scar and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Spencer Grant is trying desperately to forget his past but also to remember the one thing that is stopping him from moving on. The day he walks through the red door is the same day he finds himself being hunted by men in helicopters and on a perilous journey for his life through Las Vegas and the over stretched arms of the desert.One man, a dog and a mysterious woman are escaping, they just don't know where to or where it will all end. But somebody wants them dead.This is the first Dean Koontz book that I have read and it is one of those books that I started a couple of years ago ( I think) and never quite finished. At 728 pages it is a hell of a book-end and becomes the longest book of the year for me.I'm not really into thrillers but for this challenge I want to read a few of them as well as other genres. As far as thrillers go this is a pretty descent read and although it is a long book, it did ( more or less) keep my interest all the way. The main two characters as well as the peripheral characters are absorbingly real and the characters and plot are revealed bit by bit and not all at once. In fact the whole plot is clever and suspenseful. At times it is as gruesome as Stephen King and it also contained parts that would make those of a more prudish nature blush !Although I generally enjoyed this book I did think the ending was a little bit unrealistic in parts and also a tad disjointed but there was probably no other way to conclude the story.It is quite well known that Dean Koontz writes each page excessively slowly and only moves on once he is happy with it and such attention to detail shows in this book. Although I'm still not sold on thrillers I would like to read more from this author who has escaped my radar for so long.7.5/10


GREAT READ! This one comes highly recommended. also check out From the Corner of His Eye Large Print and Life Expectancy After this sample you will be hooked and will surely want more. This Koontz addiction is like crack.


I think the movement of the story was pretty cool. Though I do feel bad for the past that Spencer had. Just sad.The good thing is that it all gets a little better in the end.Koontz is a great writer, but after reading a few books, it gets a bit boring that he has the whole "its-almost-the-same-as-my-last-story-but-with-a-few-changes-in-character-and-situation-maybe-a-pinch-of-spirituality-for-fun-and-maybe-a-change-in-city-or-state" thing he's got going on. But otherwise, he's awesome. Like super.PS: If you haven't read it, it can get a bit traumatizing toward the part where valerie and Spencer head out to colorado, and the "acts" taken place there. You have been warned!!


I might have given this book 4 stars but for some plot devices toward the end which were more science fiction than thriller.Two dropouts trying to live "outside the grid" lives collide when an unsuccessful attempt to murder one of them is witnessed by the other. She is being mercilessly pursued by a secret amoral government agency trying to kill her. He is running for many personal persons including disenchantment with the current world order. She continues to run, he decides to seek her out of an outraged sense of injustice as they are both mercilessly pursued.Of course, both runners have amazing computer expertise to help them out of a bind. And one of the bad guys is a relentless killer who has a very peculiar sense of purpose. Needless to say, he has run amok.The theme of government unaccountability slowly eroding personal liberties is well taken especially since the book was written in 1994. Thrilling but a bit disappointing.

Stacie Morgan

I don't read a whole lot of Dean Koontz books because they often times deal with really wierd situations that give me the heebie-jeebies (and I don't like having the heebie-jeebies), so I choose his books with care. While this story did make me cringe with the demented, whacked-out sense of "compassion" held by Roy Miro, I still enjoyed the story. I really liked Spencer Grant but found it a little difficult believing his "love" and attraction for Valerie/Ellie. The "why" behind it wasn't delved into enough to make the reader identify with the intensity and believability of it. Absolutely loved Rocky! For those of you who read Koontz, you know he always has a dog in his stories somewhere and he does a great job giving them personalities. As for Koontz's style of writing, he remains one of my favorites when it comes to his use of words and the ability to accurately make the reader see, hear, smell and feel all that's going on.


Dean Koontz has done it again. I have a love/hate relationship with most of his books. He reaches out and grabs you by the throat and drags you through the white-knuckle adventure and doesn't let you go until the last page. His writing is so much more spell-binding than other people in his genre. The "hate" part is that I can't get anything done when I'm engrossed in his books. My business goes to pot, my house doesn't get cleaned. And after I escape, wrung-out and exhausted, I look around and am overwhelmed with all the stuff I DIDN'T get done while I was under his spell.This book is no exception. There are a few things that might have been left out. Maybe a few minor details, but mostly it was perfection and I was left being paranoid of the power the government has over our lives, and it wouldn't take much of a stretch for this novel to be a true story.

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