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


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.


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.

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.

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/...


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!!


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"]>


I read the German edition "Dunkle Flüsse des Herzens"Es waren schon immer die Künstler und Kreativen, die vor den sich anbahnenden Entwicklungen in ihren Werken warnten. Und sie waren es auch, die unter jeder Form von Diktatur am meisten zu leiden hatten, wurden sie doch als politisch Gefangene gleichgestellt mit Verbrechern.Ich habe vor kurzem den Roman "Dunkle Flüsse des Herzens" (Dark Rivers of the Heart) von Dean Koontz beendet, und zwar die Ausgabe von 1994. Und was ich darin gefunden habe, verpackt in einer spannenden Kriminalgeschichte mit mehreren Handlungssträngen, waren Dinge, die heute topaktuell sind:- Lobbyismus- verdeckt arbeitende Behörden- Politikerwillkür- Abbau von Demokratie und Grundgesetzen- Zwangsenteignung- Satelliten- und TelefonüberwachungImmer wieder erstaunt es mich, wie schnell Künstler die drohenden Veränderungen in der Gesellschaft wahrnehmen und das viele Jahre bevor sie Realität werden. Entwicklungen, die uns eher das Fürchten lehren sollten als die fiktiven Verbrechen in einem Roman! Großartig geschrieben!Übrigens wurde der Roman 2011 nochmal neu aufgelegt. Allerdings kann ich nicht sagen, ob in gekürzter oder veränderter Form.

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.


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.


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).


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.

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.

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.


I have not read a Dean Koontz book for years and I loved it! The story is slowly revealed bringing past present and future into play all to the end of the book with a climatic ending, and unlike many books of this nature, it is not all together predictable in what will happen. The characters are all very interesting and intriguing. I enjoyed many of the tid bits of information that were related to true events added to the story and the info at the end of the book really added to the ending, making me think even more about what our society is coming to and how this has all pretty much been in motion and predicted for centuries. Though I love conclusive endings answering all my questions I enjoyed the open ending of the main characters, good and bad, still going on in their lives, it seemed a very realistic ending, rather than the good guy always winning. Well done!

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