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

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


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!!


Having read the first 150 pages, I'm officially done with this novel. I usually have good luck with Koontz, but this is one of the exceptions. Reasons why I just can't bring myself to finish it are as follows:1.) The story is so shrouded in mystery that it's hard to have a good understanding of what's happening and why. I'm sure it eventually all becomes clear, but I find it hard to get into a story when I don't even know the motivation of the main character.2.) The cheese factor. Dean Koontz is not known for writing techno thrillers. There is a reason for this. When the spy elements of the story start coming into play, I just can't take them seriously. The secret base hidden under the restaurant reminds me of Undercover Brother, not James Bond.3.) The cute factor. I get so sick of the main character's damn dog. Page after page is devoted to pointlessly describing the dog's lovable antics. I know Koontz is a great lover of dogs in real life, but this is just too much. In Watchers, the dog was central to the story, so it was important to focus on him. In this one, the dog seems to be used only for cute comedic relief, like a chirping monkey in a bad pirate movie.4.) The outdated technology. Actually, I don't mind books with antiquated technology, but Koontz isn't good at making the technological aspects of the story interesting. He simply fawns over the hardware. A dial-up modem? Wow! And a 10 gigabyte hard drive?! No way!5.) The writing style. This is the most boringly written Koontz novel that I've ever read. Utterly devoid of any real tension or excitement.

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.


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"]>

Adam Burton

Ugh. I tried, really tried to like this. A number of friends, whom I consider readers of taste, recommended Koontz. I listened to an audiobook of this. Bleah. I mean, the plot was interesting enough to keep me until the end of the story, but the writing was god-awful. The style kept changing between a stereotypical "taut thriller" no-frills Hemingwayesque voice and this bizarre, baroque, almost delirious pseudo-poetry. Maybe that was a conscious technique (I hope so for his sake), but I found it jarring and off-putting. Perhaps Koontz has others that are better, but I'm not inclined to seek them out.


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.

Kimberly Sexton

This book had a little bit of a boring beginning, but being a huge fan of Koontz writing style I endured reading through until the climax of the book hit. If you can have patience and read through the informative beginning of the book, then you won't be upset with the thrilling ending to the book.

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.


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.


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.


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.

Jo Ann

Besides a compelling plot and believable and sympathetic characters, this novel has a deeper meaning. It is a type of cautionary tale of a government gone awry, and fascists enabled by technology to control those they have promised to serve. When this was written in 1994 the Branch Davidian fiasco and the massacre at Ruby Ridge had occurred. I was starting to realize that the government was not my friend, something that Mr. Koontz knew and expressed so vividly.


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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