Before becoming a writer, Daniel Hecht spent twenty years as a guitarist, a musical career that included albums on Windham Hill Records, concerts at Carnegie Hall, and international performance tours. He now lives in Vermont.
In this debut novel, a monster is haunting Highwood, the large old family home of Paul Skoglund's aunt, Vivien Hoffman. The monster has nearly destroyed the house and its contents, flinging large appliances and furniture about, breaking walls and windows. Or perhaps the vandalism has been done by teenagers, some of whom have since disappeared or died mysteriously. Paul, unemployed and handicapped by Tourette's syndrome, accepts the challenge of restoring the home for his wealthy but unlovable aunt. Aided by his lover, Lia, and a sweetly melancholic cop, Paul begins the repair process while searching for the cause of the destruction. Just as Paul's father helped him learn to handle his compulsive behavior, Paul hopes to help his own son. But Paul's father committed suicide‘or did he? A marvelous mix of modern Gothic horror and romance, with a generous helping of bioscience, this is a guaranteed page-turner for Koontz fans with a moderate tolerance for detached body parts. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/97.]‘Elsa Pendleton, Boeing Information Svcs., Ridgecrest, Cal.
A hero with unusual strengths and weaknesses gives this debut thriller a large dose of energy and excitement. Paul Skoglund has learned to live with and basically control his Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder, thanks to early training from his caring father and daily doses of haloperidol: "Motor tics manageable, coprolalia (the swearing associated with Tourette's) very rare, verbal outbursts mostly limited to snatches of song or movie lines, and usually more irritating than offensive to others." But the drug has also burned away the once sharp edge of his creativity, and Paul has been having a hard time earning a living. So when his eccentric Aunt Vivien offers him a job restoring her old house in Lewisboro, N.Y., Paul is glad to accept, even though it will take him away from his eight-year-old son, Mark, who suffers from neurological troubles of his own. But the old house on the Hudson is no ordinary dwelling. It has been ravaged by vandals, and this destruction is apparently linked to several local teenagers who have vanished in recent months. While state police investigator Morgan Ford looks into the disappearances, Paul and his fearless lover, Lia, find evidence that the vandalism has a more sinister source. Hecht gets the most out of one of literature's most venerable conceits: as Paul delves into the mystery of the old house, he also burrows deeper into the mystery of his own mind. A late injection of X-Files supernatural weirdness is a bit jarring, but it doesn't weaken Paul's credibility or our sympathy for his concerns about his son. After a 15-year-career as a guitarist (truncated due to a hand injury), Hecht has brought welcome artistry and elegance to his new field. (Jan.)