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Publisher's Summary

Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. As a violent storm rages outside the hospital, Rudy Tock spends long hours walking the corridors between the expectant fathers' waiting room and his dying father's bedside. It's a strange vigil made all the stranger when, at the very height of the storm's fury, Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the first and last time since his stroke.

What he says before he dies is that there will be five dark days in the life of his grandson, five dates whose terrible events Jimmy will have to prepare himself to face. The first is to occur in his 20th year; the second in his 23rd year; the third in his 28th; the fourth in his 29th; the fifth in his 30th.

Rudy is all too ready to discount his father's last words as a dying man's delusional rambling. But then he discovers that Josef also predicted the time of his grandson's birth to the minute, as well as his exact height and weight, and the fact that Jimmy would be born with syndactyly, the unexplained anomaly of fused digits, on his left foot. Suddenly the old man's predictions take on a chilling significance.

What terrifying events await Jimmy on these five dark days? What nightmares will he face? What challenges must he survive? As the novel unfolds, picking up Jimmy's story at each of these crisis points, the path he must follow will defy every expectation. And with each crisis he faces, he will move closer to a fate he could never have imagined. For who Jimmy Tock is and what he must accomplish on the five days when his world turns is a mystery as dangerous as it is wondrous, a struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive, only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.

©2004 Dean Koontz (P)2004 Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Emotionally powerful and thought-provoking." (Booklist) "Of all best-selling authors, Koontz may be the most underestimated by the literary establishment....A master storyteller and a daring writer....Koontz is a true original and this novel, one of his most unusual yet, will leave readers aglow." (Publishers Weekly) "Mr. Koontz is a skillful storyteller....His new Life Expectancy offers a clear illustration of what he does right." (The New York Times)

What members say

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  • Overall

New life for Koontz

After listening to Frankenstein and finding the writing way too narcissistic, I was very pleasantly surprised to listen to this book. I can only assume one of these books was either not written by Koontz, or this author is a man of multiply diverse styles. This book was a complete joy! It was one of those books that made me feel like I had a new friend and that the book was written for me... that is to say, i wanted to listen to it at every available moment and was sorry when it was over. It was filled with intelligent humor, witty and always captivating. Mr. Koontz, if you are out there, can you please explain to me how you can write in such an enveloping manner in one book, and lose it (IMHO) in the other. This book had none of the overt need to impress the reader with the author's grasp of the dictionary...this book was not filled with irrelevant detail like the other. For a mystery novel, this does all I expect the genre to provide. Bravo.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not my favorite Koontz, but still engaging...

I normally rate audiobooks based on whether or not I can fall asleep to them. I found the characters and plot of this book good enough to keep me up til morning on two different nights. Not only was the story suspensful, it had a finely honed humorous edge to it. The twists of the second half of the story were very unexpected, which was a delight to me since I normally predict them. I'm glad to see that Koontz is still in top form.

46 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Horrific Fun Under the Big Top!

This book... This book... I'm almost speechless... Let me try again. This book absolutely catches you off guard. You expect serial killers and the like from Dean Koontz but the master has surely outdone himself with this witty, ridiculously funny, fantastically humorous horror story of the killer clown and the prophetic dying stroke victims! How can one put down a humorous horror/thriller? I LOVED it as I laughed into my nightmares!

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amanda
  • Bono, AR, USA
  • 07-30-09


I read this book in hardback and thought it was a very good book, very entertaining while still being suspenseful. When I LISTENED to the book on Audible, I WAS HOOKED. This became my favorite Dean Koontz novel ever. The narrator was excellent and added so much more to the book itself. I plan on listening to more books read by John Bedford Lloyd. If you are unsure whether you want to spend a credit on this book or not, I suggest you go for it. You won't be sorry.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Eerie fun

You might as well perch yourself on the edge of your seat before you sit down to listen to this great creepy story - - you're going to wind up there anyway. I grabbed this story out of desperation for something to listen to on a plane ride and found myself sitting in the airport for another hour until I could pull myself away to hurry to get to my hotel to try and finish. Good fun.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not your typical Koontz.

This book had me hooked from the first minute. It's characters, plot twists, and situations are totally unbelievable...and that what makes it great! Koontz displayed a level of humor I have never seen from him before and had me laughing out loud several times. You have to read this one!!

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anthony
  • Hutto, TX, United States
  • 12-27-04

MUCH BETTER! MR. Koontz is back

This book was so much better than the Taking. Mr. Koontz is back. I haven't been able to stop listening. The reader is great and the plot engaging. Great fictional read (listen).

24 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Koonz's Best

Of all the books I have read by Dean Koonz, this is the best of the best. While some of his books I have not enjoyed as much, this book left you thirsty for more. The story of Jimmy Toc and Laurie Toc, and the Toc clan, and the mirthless existence of Punchinello Bezo, all combine to make a novel rich with detail and satisfying in scope.
But even that doesn't adequately convey what is so great about this book. The theme of the book is uplifting and inspiring, while at the same time, entertaining. Koonz doesn't lecture, he just tells a story, and you wind up lecturing yourself. I thought Odd Thomas was great, and The Taking Better, but this is just outstanding. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

If you like killer clowns...

This book is a kick--an adrenalin rush of a thriller that manages to be surprisingly comic and genuinely heartwarming at the same time. The characters are wonderful! Honestly, who doesn't love killer clowns? Or psychotic aerialists? And the descriptions of food make you think it's time to dust off the cookbooks, roll up your sleeves, and start something simmering on the stovetop.

However, I'm only giving the book 4 stars--and probably would have given it 3.5, if possible--because it seemed as if the author had difficulty maintaining the fast-paced, gripping action that draws you in at the beginning of the book. The rather explosive start of the book set my expectations high. Halfway through, although I was still intrigued, I felt let down by the plot. The plot had many surprising turns, but had lost some of the initial edginess that I really enjoyed. I wanted to be scared more.

Nevertheless, the story is thoroughly enjoyable and the characters are memorable. In fact, I am so tickled by them I laugh when I think of them. Koontz is a brilliant writer with a wicked sense of humor. The narrator of the book, John Bedford Lloyd, is quite gifted and a pleasure to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not Koontz's best -- overly windy

I'm a Koontz fan and have been reading his material for 20 years. I usually love anything he writes -- my last listen, Odd Thomas, was great. This time Koontz gets obsessed with some not-so-witty dialogue in the first of the 5 substories. In addition, the reader, although energetic, was not my favorite. His reading during Jimmy's grandfather's predictions in the beginning was almost enough to turn me off to the whole book. I almost wish it had after dragging my way through this one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful