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

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.

Dr. Stanley

A rather extraordinary book, sci fi and mystery and psychological thriller and love story all in one. A paranoid vision of an America with an omnipresent government, and the beginnings of the battle against it. I loved this book though one of the major characters was more than a little distasteful. But, then again, I like psychological thrillers though this book would not be everyone's taste for it mixes genres, which is what several of my books have been accused of doing. The editor of my first book, Troubled Children/Troubled Parents, objected that the first half of the book was child guidance information and the next half was stories, to which I replied, "I'll add some lines as a bridge between them." Which I did and Publishers Weekly called the book "outstanding." But publishers don't like books which fit between genres rather than falling into a definite marketing category.

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.


This book is made of fail.I tried three separate times to finish reading Dark Rivers, but unfortunately, it simply couldn't hold my interest. At first, it seemed to have all the ear-marks of a fun, fast-paced, suspensful read. A man with a dark secret; a mysterious woman on the run from a secret, amoral government agency; a sociopathic serial killer cum secret government agent hot on their trail--all in all, this book could have been good. Hell, with its incorporation of high technology and conspiracy theorist undertones, it could have even been great.Dark Rivers, however, failed to meet even my lowest expectations. Between Koontz' stunted and oft-awkward prose combined with (or perhaps stemming from) poor word choice, and his long-winded, drawn-out descriptions of events, reading this book became a chore after the first fifty or so pages. Not only did it feel at times like he was simply writing to fill up space, drawing out each event or description as much as possible rather than reworking the material to create a longer, more intensive plotline, his insistence on dragging out the final revelation regarding the protagonist's "dark secret" was quite frankly irritating. I found it especially irritating because Koontz employed liberal use of pseudo-stylistic flashbacks in order to relate this terrible secret to the reader, yet he eventually revealed said secret within the normal course of the narrative, making the final, protracted flashback sequences somewhat superfluous and unnecessary.I could go on, but I think those few points are sufficient to explain my loathing of this book.So, in conclusion, Dark Rivers isn't worth the paper it's printed on, or the time it takes to read it. I would recommend it only to avid Koontz fans who will read anything he churns out, regardless of whether it's actually good, and also to aspiring authors who wish to learn what NOT to do, because this book stands as a prime example of why "churners" do a disservice to the art of writing.


For there being a good four different plot lines going on in this book, it got off to a realllllly slow start. The first half of this book just dragged, and with so much to be introduced and set up, it shouldn't have. Then, after the book hit its stride around the halfway mark, everything went absolutely insane and all of the plot lines began to converge. It was rather disconcerting to have the plot hit me in the face after something like twenty pages describing the flood Spencer got stuck in, and almost an entire chapter dedicated to talking about property forfeiture and seizure laws.Out of all of the story lines, I ended up enjoying Spencer's the most. Not the insta-love with Valerie bit, but his dark and tragic past that you're fed snippets of at a time. The story just kept repeating, over and over, slowly adding to the running narrative one piece at a time. It had a very fairy tale-like feel to it, which is probably why I ended up connecting the most with that segment of the story.I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the psychological part of the book. After the first five characters who had dark and tragic pasts were introduced, I was determined to hate Spencer, and blame him as the King of All Dark and Tragic Pasts in the book. But the guy and his dog grew on me. In the end, I didn't even really mind the insta-love. It was that interesting of a dark and tragic past.The friend who recommended the book to me had told me Roy Miro was her favorite villain of all time, so I was expecting great things from him. While he wasn't a horribly written villain (he wasn't evil for stereotypical reasons - he actually thought he was doing the world a favor), I found myself enjoying Spencer's father much more as an antagonist. Now that man knows how to be evil!Roy and Eve's epilogue plans amused me with their ridiculousness, though, so I can't say that Roy never kept my attention.(view spoiler)[Eve's Plan for World Domination:1. Sleep with father who doesn't know he is her father2. Convince father to "role-play" him raping his daughter, tape entire thing3. Blackmail father for lots of money, and a job where she can gather more blackmail info4. Blackmail politician into marry her5. Blackmail anyone running against her new husband, so he gets elected President6. Have President and VP killed in an "accident"7. Play the "grieving Presidential widow"8. Run for President herself, and get elected9. Marry Roy, after proper grieving period10. Profit (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


Dark Rivers of the Heart is a monumental test of human endurance. It gets so boring by the halfway point that any sane reader would drink liquid cyanide before bringing themselves to finish this book. At first it seems interesting. Agency and high tech stuff, what could go wrong? Everything. I wouldn't be surprised if the editor face rolled the keyboard somewhere near page 562. The combination of this book’s terrible quality and it being a required reading, with deadlines, creates a nightmare for the English student. It causes one to reconsider their faith in God, as how could He have let this tragedy happen to you? Throughout the book, the protagonist talks to his dog as a way to clear his thoughts. It is obvious that he considers the pet to be his intellectual superior. The same seems to apply to the author. He had enough creative ideas for perhaps 75 pages, but decided that he wanted to make a 600 page book, and so resorted to filling the remaining 525 pages with both human and canine diarrhea. The characters are one-dimensional robots that have no reason to act the way they do, although some invisible deity forces their actions in order to make a story. It simply doesn't make sense to go up against a powerful and evil organisation just because you want to help a random girl you talked to one night at a bar. You might say that since it’s a techno thriller, the reader should be more lenient towards subhuman characters. That could be so, if the technology was any good. Unfortunately, the technology presented in the book is deserving of aleph-two facepalms. Nobody’s impressed with 5 KB of memory, Koontz, so please stop bragging about it in the book. Although such things seem minor at the beginning of the book, when Koontz invests most of his 75 pages of creative material, they become the sole focus of the book when the book progresses and the author runs out of plot. The junk food I ate while procrastinating reading this book filled dark rivers in my heart. I expect Koontz to pay for my heart surgery 60 years down the road.


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!!

Mark R.

***1/2I used to read a lot of books by Dean Koontz when I was a kid, probably ten or twelve by the time I was in college. As I got into more authors and different kinds of books, expanding my boundaries a bit, Koontz books more often than not spent their time on the shelf and not in my hands. But recently I’ve gone back and read a couple, and re-read Hideaway and Dark Rivers of the Heart, my two favorites of his from my teenage years. Hideaway held up decently, but while reading Dark Rivers of the Heart, I found myself thinking about Mr. Murder or Dragon Tears or Lightning, and wondering what, exactly, I found so exciting about Dark Rivers that I’d place it at the top of the list with Hideaway. It’s a good book, to be sure, but I didn’t find it nearly as thrilling this time around. Could be because I’ve read a number of his novels since then, and am not exactly a stranger to Koontz’ familiar themes and scenarios. The book has a guy driving around in a Jeep/SUV with a goofy dog, on the run from a mysterious government agency. Naturally, he’s got a girl with him, and she’s also on the run.I believe the sections of the book that appealed to me most as a kid were those dealing with our hero, Spencer Grant’s, connection to his past, to his father and a dark, sick secret Grant’s kept buried in the back of his mind for fifteen years. The revelations regarding that secret are great, mostly kept for the end of the book, to be used in a dark, fairly intense finale. When the book gets into the how’s and why’s of the nameless government agency hellbent on killing Grant and his friend, Valerie (and the goofy dog, Rocky) I lose a little interest, particularly when computer programs and satellite weaponry come into play. But the darker moments of the books, the “horror scenes,” I guess, really make it, and do, I suppose, put this one ahead of many other Dean Koontz novels.I may end up going back and re-reading Mr. Murder and Dragon Tears at some point.


** spoiler alert ** I have now read several Dean Koontz books and generally find his books compelling and hard to put down. This one I found tough to get through in the middle part. I did become fascinated with some of the storylines as he usually has a few running at the same time and they all always end up colliding. The thoughts that must go through a writer's mind to conjure up some of the disturbed ideas that he writes about. I was also confused at the end. The character Roy has survived getting shot by an Uzi but is now paralyzed and being cared for by Eve--who will eventually be the President. As we learned earlier, Roy's raison d'etre was to rid the world of anyone that is not mostly perfect. He simply walked up to them and killed them. He eventually shares this with Eve and she actually embraces this! Anyway at the end, Eve should have killed him as he is now in a wheelchair but (miraculously) on the way to partial recovery. He will never be normal again and Eve will have to care for him forever. In fact, Roy actually shot and killed a couple just like that earlier in the book. Actually, Roy should want to be killed himself as he is no longer normal/perfect. I thought this was a hug inconsistency in the book. Some of the technology that was written about though was quite impressive, especially considering that the book was written in 1994. Heck, we did not even get internet access in our home until 1996. I would recommend the book but am certainly hopeful that the Koontz book I read is more in line with others I have read.

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.

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.

S.L. Dixon

Over the last two and a bit years I've read a fair number of Dean Koontz' books, two of which were amazing, Whispers and Strange Highways (the collection). I am continually looking for stories like those whenever I pick up his books. The Bad Place and Odd Thomas were both very good as well.Dark Rivers of the Heart is terrible.It's amazing that a man who wrote the above titles can write something as bad as this book was. He described everything even beyond his usual excess and for several pages the book featured a lengthy masturbation scene where he described nothing. I know he's a religious man and maybe didn't feel comfortable, but why bring it up at all?Every woman in this story, but one old lady, was described as ravishing and perfect... it was all such a bore, but it kept going.AND THEN there was a fucking dog. I'm thinking there are two kinds of Dean Koontz books, ones that a pet plays dominate role and ones that have potential to be good.The more I write the more I consider the hours I spent on this book, it's making me angry.This was also written during one of the author's scared periods (they come up, he writes about longing for the days of yore like they weren't a horror well beyond every day forward). In this one he was afraid for his religious rights, afraid of the government, afraid of humanity, but he likes his dog.Also, it seems like he took some ill-information about technological direction and capabilities (or did ZERO research) and he just made up things he could've researched.In the end, this is the bottom of any of Dean Koontz' books (of those I've read). I'm sure I'll still look for another Whispers, Strange Highways, even a The Bad Place or an Odd Thomas, but I'll do it sparingly.


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.


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.


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).

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