In two decades, Dean R. Koontz has penned more than 50 novels under a variety of pseudonyms, eight of them in one particularly productive year. Now, however, after two annual back-to-back best sellers, "Strangers" and "Watchers," he appears to be settling for a little less prolificity. But old habits die hard, which may be why his newest tale reads like two nearly distinct yarns.
In the first and more engrossing section of "Lightning," a little orphan named Laura bounces from institution to foster home, being saved from an assortment of perils, including two separate molesters by a mysterious "guardian angel." Koontz is particularly skilled at setting up believable characters and situations.
This proficiency comes in handy because he needs all the credibility he can muster for the second half of the story, when Laura, now a wealthy pop novelist-wife-mother, discovers that her protector is a time traveler.
He has been misusing the invention that creates a "lightning road" through time to smooth out Laura's bumpy path to happiness. I say "misuse," because he comes from an era of infamy, ruled by a ruthless dictator, and the lightning road was paved with bad intentions--world domination, for example.