Dean Koontz is a master of suspense novels, where the protagonists of the stories must face the epitome of evil in the form of a normal human being. Corruptive, cruel, and mentally unstable, these villains do the most terrible of things, making the reader wonder how anyone could possibly be so cold as to torture innocents or meticulously stalk the heroes, killing everyone near and dear to them. From the Corner of His Eye is a novel built upon the inevitable connection between a man who killed his wife and the child named Bartholomew, who is fated to destroy him. In an intricate storyline that involves the lives of the people who take care of Bartholomew and provide warmth and love to an otherwise dark plot, fears are faced and the villain’s twisted thoughts are explored thoroughly.
The characters from the novel seem to portray Koontz’ own life in a way, because each important character can relate to an event or a person that the author knew. He had a traumatic childhood with a violent father and a sickly mother, neither of whom wanted Dean to read or write at all, considering it a waste of time (Sobol). From the outbursts and the womanizing of his father to the way in which Koontz’ mother would have to protect him, From the Corner of His Eye expresses a side of the author that can be seen from other novels of his- though not nearly as apparent.
Junior Cain is the villain of the novel, a relatively normal man with relatively normal tastes until the reader discovers what he is truly like. Cold and calculated, Junior Cain brings shock to the story with the mindset that he strives to keep: To move forward and never look back, which would have been good in other instances were Junior not using this state of mind to kill without regret no matter how close those people were to him.
In many ways, Junior Cain relates to the father of the author, Ray Koontz, in both mannerisms and the way in which he seemed to have no cares about those close to him. Koontz was a borderline schizophrenic with a tendency toward violence (Alexander), and after coming back from the bars his wife would often be the subject of his violent attention. In many ways, Ray Koontz personifies several of the antagonists within Dean Koontz’s novels, but From the Corner of his Eye showcases a villain who is simply human, and like Ray, focused only on looking forward.
There were other ways in which Junior related to Ray Koontz. For instance, Junior enjoyed the company of women. One might even call him a womanizer, if it weren’t for the fact that he believed that every female who saw him were instantly attracted. Koontz was no different. He would go to bars solely for drinks and women, which is what Junior tends to do quite often in search of a buxom young female to make his day complete.
After only eight nights of being discharged from the hospital from which he had been taken to previously when he became sick in front of the police, he figured he’d pay a visit to the nurse who had ‘enticed him’. Dean Koontz wrote a perfect example of Junior’s way of thinking:
“Junior could only imagine how flattered Victoria would be to receive the attentions of a twenty-three-year-old stud, flattered and grateful.” But the next page sang a different tune, as he knocks on the door of Victoria’s house and is greeted in a way he doesn’t exactly expect.
“‘What do you want?’ she asked.
Her voice was flat and a little hard. Another man might have mistaken her tone for disapproval, for impatience, even for quiet anger.
Junior knew she must be teasing him. Her sense of play was delicious. Such deviltry in her scintillate blue eyes, such sauciness (Koontz 214).”
Unfortunately, he would be mistaken, as the nurse never came onto him and had not wanted him there to begin with. He reacts in a rage, much like how Ray Koontz would react after drinking too much whisky and deciding that his wife was worthy of being beaten.
Koontz’s characters often have a desire to be violent and aggressive when anything doesn’t go their way. It was this fear, this violence that left Dean, then a small child, hiding in his room and waiting for the screaming and the crashing sounds to end:
When his father calmed down, Dean went to bed. Before he did, he followed a strict routine that he kept every night, whether or not his father had been acting violently. First, he checked the window to make sure it could be opened; he did this by sliding the window up and down twice never once, never three times, but twice. Then he untucked his bedsheets and slid his chair under his desk. Finally, going into his closet, which was actually a passageway to his parent’s bedroom, he stacked several paperback books and balanced a jar of pennies on top of the stack so that, if the books were knocked over, the pennies would spill onto the floor and wake him up (Alexander).
Afraid that his father would kill him, Dean had to make sure he could get away if it ever happened. Though it never did (at least not at that moment in time), Koontz never really recovered as evident by the majority of main characters who end up being children with a disease or problem that renders them weaker than the norm.
Bartholomew was a child prodigy, son of Agnes Lampion, who had recently lost her husband Joey on the car trip to the hospital when it was time for ‘Barty’ to be delivered. Barty was quick to laugh and smile and make others happy in the way he acted, bringing joy and peace to the household that had been torn apart with Joey’s death. Exceptionally smart, Bartholomew learned how to talk, walk, and think several weeks earlier than other infants. He grasped the concept of an odd sort of belief, in which there are multiple worlds rather than just one, with thousands of Bartys, Agnes’, and everyone else, all holding a different life from the one they were currently living. He had brilliant, dazzling blue eyes until the doctors discovered that he had eye cancer. The only way to save him had been to remove his eyes and render him blind to the world. That didn’t phase him, nor did it phase him when he discovered that a bad person was fated to discover him, otherwise known as Junior, who believed that the child would bring about his downfall.
The whole plot line of Barty relates so much to Dean as a child. At that time, living that life, where he had to fear one parent and worry for the other, the only way to escape his world was to seek others through books. The concept of multiple planes of existence are not necessarily rare. Ken Korczak, an online article columnist wrote that “In fact, the idea that other invisible worlds exist in proximity to our own are nearly as old as human beings. “Other worlds” is one of the oldest and most frequently used ideas in speculative literature and legend (Paragraph 2).” Koontz explored the multiple plane belief within the novel, which brings the story back to its origins when the author was a child.
His main characters, those that were children, were often ill in some way. Bartholomew was blinded, which in turn can relate to how Koontz was reacting to the hardships of taking care of a sick mother much in the way that Agnes and her brothers nurtured Barty. Facing hardship for the first time since having Bartholomew, the close-knit family blamed the world, for which Koontz was often quick to express the same mindset in other novels.
Another factor that played a role in the relation of the characters to Koontz himself were the two brothers in the novel, Edom and Jacob. They were unique, one fearing natural disasters and keeping tabs on the latest numbers of people killed from them, and the other fearing man-made creations, such as war, plague, and the twisted and terrible minds that left hundreds dead. They were like this because their father, Agnes’ father, beat them, screamed at them, and would not let them do anything he didn’t already know about. He’d leave them trapped in their own home, to which they were not allowed to leave unless given permission to.
Along with Junior, the father of Agnes and her brothers personified all of the terrible things that Ray Koontz would also do. The fact that the father drank and screamed and hurt the whole family, left little to the imagination as to who the inspiration for this terrible person was.
It was only because Agnes had not been shattered with her father’s cruelty that everyone remained sane within the household until the old man died. She was that one bit of hope, the one protector of her siblings and a direct personification of Koontz’s mother, who would send him to his room whenever his father came home and who worked hard for the whole family when there was little money left after Ray would spent it all on alcohol.
The fact is that the book, though it delves into the imagination with parallel worlds and miracles galore, is in hindsight a link to seeing beyond the story and to the author himself, who suffered greatly throughout his childhood, but used that inspiration and those memories to make a novel not only worth reading, but worth pondering over.
Alexander, Paul. “Dean Koontz”. Rolling Stone, 06/25/98 Issue 789, p46
Koontz, Dean. From the Corner of His Eye. New York: Bantam Books, 2000.
Korczak, Ken. “Multiple Universes: The evidence is good.” 16/05/2006 2 Dec 2008 .
Adam, Sobol. “Dean Ray Koontz – 1945.” Koontz_Dean_Ray_pa. 2 Dec 2008 .
Gillespie, Nick, Snell, Lisa, Reason, “Contemplating evil . Nov96, Vol. 28, Issue