I am a fan of Dean Koontz and this book Life Expectancy is a good example of why. Many authors who write thrillers rarely give the story a sense of humor. This may be because they either believe that humor is inappropriate for this sort of story or because they have no sense of humor themselves. In this book, Mr. Koontz finds a very good balance between humor and horror.
The story involves a grandfather’s five dire predictions about his grandson who is born at the same moment that the grandfather dies. Jimmy Tock goes into the family business of running a bakery. He lives in the same house as his parents and eccentric grandmother. The family’s attitude towards life is that a well made meal will keep trouble away, however they don’t necessarily find it to be true as each date of the grandfather’s predictions comes to pass. There is a chilling secret that Jimmy finds out about from his parents about the day he was born. This secret is the main ingredient of the story and Jimmy’s reactions are the icing on this cake.
I love the eccentricity of Jimmy’s grandmother, Rowena, who entertains anyone who will listen to her skewered versions of events in her life. Jimmy’s parents seem almost normal compared to Rowena, even though his mother likes to paint pictures of people’s pets in her spare time. Koontz brings these people to life in such a way that you have to shake your head at their sheer naivitee. In one scene involving Jimmy being chased in a snow-covered woods by a homicidal maniac, Jimmy thinks that a bullet which flew by his head was a bee. “How,” he asks himself could a bee survive in the snow?” This is the sort of thing that any other writer of thrillers would not think of putting in a story. Koontz takes a scene that would normally be only about the bullet and adds tiny elements of humor into his writing.
I give this five stars out of five because I think that anyone who starts to read this book will have a hard time putting it down. There should be more thrillers with a dash of humor published. As I said earlier, I’ve yet to find any other author who can successfully blend these two elements together