Before the story begins, Koontz gives a little history of mind control and subliminal
advertising. This is, one assumes, to give greater credence to the tale he spins and,
to a degree, it succeeds. At the very least, I started the book willing to believe
that the technology in it was real or possible.
Paul and Annie Annendale had vacationed in Black River every summer with their two
children, hoping to instill in them love and respect for nature. They'd met and
befriended Sam Edison, the owner of the general store, years ago and developed the
habit of spending a night with him before heading into the woods to camp. After Annie's
death, their daughter Rya convinced Paul that they should continue the tradition and
soon Paul had met and fallen in love with Sam's daughter Jenny, who moved home after
her marriage fell apart. This summer would be no different - or so they thought.
Arriving at the tail-end of a town-wide flu epidemic, they begin to enjoy their vacation
in the small mill town.
What they don't know is that their timing couldn't be better - or worse. Ogden Salsbury,
a scientist at a private company owned by millionaire H Leonard Dawson, has been working
on government research into subliminal advertising and has made a huge discovery. Taking
it to Dawson, who brings in General Klinger, he convinces both men that they can have
unimaginable power. Dawson is a religious fanatic who would like to bring the world to
Jesus, Klinger is a military man who wants power for power's sake and Salsbury is
a twisted man who wants to control a world that has mistreated and disrespected him for
his whole life. After two years, Salsbury is testing the program in Black River. The two
groups of people come together in this small town and the fight for control of the minds
of the citizens of Black River is on.
A quick read, and kind of average. The graphic sex scenes are a little over the top,
maybe only because they are almost all sexually perverted (rape, rape of a woman in
front of her husband and son, beating and raping a woman with a gun...). The idea
might have been to make the reader horrifed by Salsbury, but somehow I ended up
horrified by Koontz. The ending is too simplistic, considering the scope of the mind
control. The best part of the book, if you're interested in subliminal messages in
the real world, might be the References listed in the back, citing about 20 books
and magazine articles
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