Koko by Peter Straub
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I may put this on my horror bookshelf, but in point of fact, it's a straight thriller in the mid-eighties extra page-count kind of way that lets us delve deep into the tortured psyches of a band of men, Vietnam vets, who get embroiled in the machinations of a serial killer -- or indeed, one of their own.
Straub has a great grasp on characterizations and the meandering plot has a lot in common with all of the epic horror novels of the '80s that always came in big thick books. That being said, you must either love these guys or the book might be a slog.
In my case, I had a great time revisiting the horrors of the past, the drunken PTSD of the present, the thrill of the hunt, and plenty of twists and turns to always keep me guessing. From setting up kill boxes to plain ole investigation to taking trips down memory lane to pry some of those cold dead clues from your own experiences, it always kept me interested.
If I were to compare this to modern thriller-type novels, I'd first point out that the newer kinds would have cut this novel in half. But to me, I think it's doing the tale a disservice. I MISS epic long horrors and thrillers that lead us gently into caring for our cast before serving them up on a bloody platter.
That being said, I feel kinda bad that I never went on to read any of Straub's other works other than the collaboration he did with Stephen King. BUT, I can definitely see why the two of them were able to pull off the collaboration. There is a great deal of respect and there are a lot of similarities between the two.
For anyone on the fence about this, I do want to say it's a really good novel, but it is rather dependent on whether you click with the characters. I got lucky, and I had a great time, but mileage might vary.
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