The Face by Dean Koontz

I’ve been reading Dean Koontz’s books since I was in 7th grade and came across one in the school library at St. Michael’s Catholic School, and devoured it in three hours. I was hooked from then on, though his books are definitely hit-or-miss. His style has evolved  over the years, from the straightforward horror of serial murderers,  scientifically modified creatures escaped from laboratories, and crazed voodoo killers, to more metaphysical meanderings over the years. He has written about life after death, surviving plane crashes, reincarnations………with his unique style of description. He knows how to create characters that stay with you.

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The Face is my own personal favorite, because it seamlessly melds the metaphysical with the supernatural with the harsh reality of modern-day Los Angeles. The main character, Ethan Truman, is a retired police officer who now is head of security for a world-famous actor. His childhood best friend Duncan Wheeler has recently died – or has he? – and it is this “death” and some very creepy and strange letters addressed to his movie-star employer from an unknown stalker, that propel him into this mystery.

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There is, of course, the serial stalker/killer Corky Laputa who provides the intense antagonist viewpoint, and the child character, Aelfric, who provides Ethan with someone to protect and is at the heart of one of the book’s most throat-grabbing mysteries. It’s a seriously good read, but also made me think about quite a lot of stuff.

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The metaphysical meanderings on life, death, good, evil, Heaven and Hell, are what I particularly enjoyed, because these are questions we all ask ourselves. Does good always win over evil? Is there life after death? What truly awaits us after we die? Are we so certain we’ll end up in Heaven or Hell, or whatever constitutes our personal visions of these places?

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In one scene, Ethan meets up with his former police partner, Hazard Yancy, and one of my favorite characters. Yancy is still on the LAPD, a detective with a huge appetite and heart of gold. Ethan buys him lunch at a local Armenian restaurant, and Yancy essentially orders the entire menu. Ethan has just had an intense scare involving a potential suspect in the stalking case, and he is questioning his entire grip on his sanity, and reality. His order of Moroccan salmon and couscous goes uneaten, though it sounded quite delicious.


Two waitresses were required to bring all the food to the table. Hazard grinned and nodded as each dish was placed before him: “Nice. Nice. That’s nice. Real nice. Oh, very nice.” The memory of being shot in the gut spoiled Ethan’s appetite. As he picked at his Moroccan salmon and couscous, he delayed bringing up the issue of Rolf Reynerd.

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So this was my latest recipe – salmon with a Moroccan-style sauce called chermoula and lemony couscous studded with fresh vegetables – inspired both by this wonderful book and a great desire for some clean eating after the excesses of Thanksgiving Day.

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For the salmon and chermoula sauce:
4 salmon fillets, deboned and deskinned
6 cloves of garlic, divided
2 tablespoons cumin
Pinch of saffron threads, soaked in a bit of white wine or chicken stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 green onions, sliced
Bunch of fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried red chili flakes

For the couscous:
1 cup couscous
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half

In a small food chopper, add the garlic cloves, cumin, green onions, saffron, mint, cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, some salt, and chili flakes. Pulse until well mixed.

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Brush the top of the salmon fillets with the chermoula sauce and let sit for up to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

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Heat a stovetop grill pan to medium high, and grill the salmon fillets about 3-4 minutes per side. Let cool while you make the couscous.

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Boil the chicken stock with the remaining tablespoons of lemon juice, and pour it over the couscous.  Add the peas and tomatoes, stir briefly, cover with plastic wrap and let the liquid absorb, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

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Serve the salmon atop a bed of couscous, and garnish with the remaining chermoula sauce. Apply to your face.

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20 thoughts on “The Face by Dean Koontz

  1. Dean Koontz has always been a favorite of mine as well. The Face is a fantastic book and this was a great review. Like you, I started reading him in middle school/junior high and can’t get enough of him. Have you read his “Frankenstein” series?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, I love his take on “Frankenstein,” which is one of my favorite books. I’ve always liked Koontz for the most part, though he’s had a few that were way too bizarre and out-there. “The Face” was near and dear to my heart as it was given to me around the time of my grandmother’s death and with the whole storyline centering around death and redemption and heaven and hell, it struck a chord and remains a favorite.


    1. Thank you so much for the compliment! Yes, you would be fine using a cast iron skillet. My grill pan is actually a ridged cast iron pan because I just like those grill stripes on salmon or steak. So you wouldn’t get the stripes, but the method of cooking would be just the same. If you have salmon with the skin on, you can cook the skin side longer and it gets crispy and so delicious! Let me know how it turns out for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, you’ve outdone yourself with this recipe. I just bought salmon (great sale) but I am committed to the recipe I’m making or I’d veer off the path, so to speak, and make this. I am pinning for later.

    Love Dean Koontz, by the way…I was alone in the house late, reading one of this stories – doing one of those “I’ll just get tot he end of this chapter” things when I heard the most godawful demonic shrieking going on outside. Then a lout bang, then the screams faded off in the distance. I actually was terrified. It didn’t even sound human. Then wondered if I possibly could have heard such a thing. The next morning I got up and looked for tracks and a beaten down trail in the wet grass led down to the lake.

    The neighbors had heard it, too. They told me what it was…

    Umm, it was two feral cats mating. It sure didn’t sound like much fun for them, haha!

    I blame Dean Koontz for priming me for that terror!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a hilarious story! You had me laughing so hard. Those darn cats, I tell you. I’m glad you enjoyed my recipe post as well. The sauce is what really brought everything together, in my opinion. And it was so simple. I do highly recommend adding the saffron, even if it is a little expensive. It just gives it that unique taste. Thank you, both for the laughs and for the compliments.


      1. 🙂 Oh I was a little bit envious when I saw your bowl of saffron!! I actually love using saffron and yes, it’s expensive compared to a lot of things but it just adds such a great flavor & color and nothing can ever replace it. I know some people say turmeric, but it’s all but tasteless in a recipe! I would call saffron a spice that has great value for the price – and it usually only takes a pinch or two.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful review, Vanessa! I need to read more Koontz–I just haven’t. This one sounds pretty good and the recipe looks delicious too. I love salmon! ❤🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jen! This book really is my favorite DK book, but he is definitely, as I said, hit-or-miss. The salmon came out sooooooo good. I was quite proud of myself, though I’m still not a big couscous fan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have issues with couscous too! I think it’s the texture or something. I do better with quinoa really, but even that’s taken me some time. I’m going to see if I have the book added now and Will save the recipe! Will try both. ❤😁

        Liked by 1 person

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