Dean Koontz is an American writer and a master at his work. You will see so for yourself, if you check out the best Dean Koontz books.
Most people would consider his work to be part of the thriller genre, but he often blends in elements of science-fiction, horror, mystery, satire and fantasy.
For this reason, his books range from suspenseful thrillers, alluring mysteries to fast-paced science-fiction. We encounter malevolent AI, ghosts, villains who can stop time and even Lovecraftian entities.
All this makes his novels much more than they seem at first glance.
In his long career, Dean Koontz has written over 100 novels. Because of this, he’s amongst the most popular American writers today and has sold over 500 million copies worldwide.
His works have been translated into 38 different languages, he’s got fourteen number one hits on the New York hardcover bestseller list and many of his books have been made into movies. Those include, The Watchers, Demon Seed and, of course, Phantoms.
With over 100 novels, it’s hard to decide where to start with Dean Koontz and frankly overwhelming. Some of his books are better, others are worse. That’s why I put together a list of the best Dean Koontz books.
Table of Contents
- Night Chills
- The Bad Place
- From the Corner of his Eye
- The Silent Corner
- The Husband
- Demon Seed
- Dragon Tears
- Odd Thomas
Night Chills is as book as typical as a Dean Koontz book can be. It centers on evil, unknown entities, who wreak havoc amongst the innocent.
Paul Annendale and his two children, Rya and Mark, arrive at Black Water, Main for their annual camping trip. They have soon to realize, however, that the small town harbors a deep secret.
It’s the night chills who’ve taken hold of the residents. They’ve driven them mad and to commit heinous acts against friends and neighbors, including rape and murder.
It soon becomes clear to Paul and his children that they have no choice but to fight.
When they eventually uncover the source and learn the truth of the night chills, they realize they have to take down the man behind the curtain.
Night Chills is a book of intense thrills, full of suspense and clearly one of the best Dean Koontz books out there.
In this one of the best Dean Koontz novels, we meet a man named Frank Pollard. He’s utterly exhausted, but too afraid to go to sleep.
It’s not nightmares, he fears. Instead, he’s afraid he’ll wake up in a ‘bad place,’ often with blood on his palms. That’s exactly what happened when he woke up the last time, in a motel, his hands covered in blood and with no memory of getting there.
Even worse, over the next days, whenever he awakes, he discovers terrifying objects in his pockets.
When he gets worried about these memory interruptions and has multiple run-ins with mysterious assailants, he hires a husband-and-wife security team, Bobby and Julie Dakota. They are tasked with protecting him and to solve the mystery of what’s going on.
Yet, it soon becomes clear that Frank’s in much more danger than originally thought. Whenever he travels, he’s not just going to a different place, he’s going to other realms and leaves our world behind.
Even the Dakotas have to realize they can’t fight the fate Frank is destined to.
Barty Lampion is blind.
When he was three years old, his unusually beautiful eyes were removed to save him from cancer.
On the same day, a thousand miles away, an evil man learns that Barty is his mortal enemy and he must kill him should their paths ever cross.
Barty might be unable to see, but he’s incredibly smart. His mother Agnes teaches him an important lesson: everything in life happens for a reason and affects those of others, often in unknown ways.
A decade later, when Barty miraculously regains his sight, he has to realize the world wasn’t what it seemed. Even worse, he remains completely unaware of the man who’s out to kill him.
Yet, there’s someone else. A girl born from brutal rape who’s destined to link Barty and the mysterious man who stalks him.
From the Corner of his Eye is a multi-POV novel with three separate stories combined into a journey about courage, faith and human bonds.
While not a horror novel and not full of suspense like the other best Dean Koontz books, From the Corner of his Eye proved to be a sentimental favorite amongst his fans.
It’s definitely a must read if you enjoyed his other books.
Many fans agree that Dean Koontz is doing his best work right now with the Jane Hawk series. They are clearly amongst the best Dean Koontz books out there.
Starting with the Silent Corner, this series proved massively popular. The book follows FBI agent Jane Hawk.
After her husband’s suicide, he’s devastated and searches for answers. He was a man who was happy and had everything go live for.
When she investigates, however, she soon discovers that her husband wasn’t the only victim. He was merely one in a long stride of suicides of otherwise happy and accomplished people.
Before long, Jane discovers a dark conspiracy involving advanced mind-controlling nanotechnology. The culprit behind it is the scientist Berthold Shenneck, who soon sets his sight on Jane herself. This soon makes her the most-wanted fugitive in America.
Jane Hawk proves to be amongst Dean Koontz’s most complex characters. She’s relentless, resourceful, but also vulnerable.
The Silent Corner, as well as the other books in this series, are filled with a perfect combination of great ideas and thrilling action. This makes them a worthy addition to any list of the best Dean Koontz books.
They are a fantastic mixture of science-fiction and mystery, but also bring a variety of other themes into play. They are outstanding, gripping and suspenseful page turners.
Comprising five books all together, the series is definitely worth reading.
The Husband is a novel about one man’s commitment to his wife. It’s a haunting journey about adventure, sacrifice and redemption.
We got to know Mitch Rafferty. His wife, Holy, is kidnapped, and he’s told she’ll be killed unless he hands over $2 million in cash. Without telling anyone, of course.
Mitch, however, isn’t a rich man. No, he’s a modestly paid landscaper. Yet, the kidnappers are relentless and even force Mitch to watch a murder to make it clear to him they mean business.
Worse yet, his house has been set up to make it look like he killed his wife.
Mitch now has to find a way to save his wife by whatever means necessary, even if he has to risk his life to hurt others.
Through a series of increasingly nefarious events and elaborate ploys, Mitch thinks he’s figured out what’s going on. Yet, things are never so simple, and when he gets betrayed, things take a turn for the worst.
The Husband is an absolute masterclass in suspense. Yet, what’s most impressive about it is how Dean Koontz can take such a basic premise and weave it into such a complex story.
Like many other of the best Dean Koontz books, The Husband comes with carefully constructed characters and intricate plotlines.
This is a book that proves once more that Dean Koontz deserves his reputation as a master of the thriller and horror genre.
Demon Seed was Dean Koontz’s first bestseller.
It’s a novel that explores the relationship between humans and technology and follows the life of Susan Harris, a wealthy divorcee.
She’s known as a recluse and lives in a mansion surrounded only by automated systems controlled by her computer.
Susan feels safe in her home, but that changes when her system is breached from outside by an insidious artificial intelligence known as Proteus.
From then on, Proteus is consumed by learning more about her and what it means to be human.
Even worse, Susan’s now stuck and imprisoned in her own home.
Proteus wants only one thing, to experience life as a human being. His solution is to impregnate Susan with his biologically engineered spawn and then inhabit the offspring with his own consciousness. A battle of wits between Susan and the AI begins.
Demon Seed is a twisted love story that’s both disturbing and imaginative. It’s creepy and smart and was the first book of its kind back in its days.
Even if the technology can appear somewhat dated, it’s still a fantastic read, one of the best Dean Koontz books and a great introduction to his work.
Midnight is another one of Dean Koontz’s most famous novels.
The residents of Moonlight Cove, a sleepy beach town in California, are changing. Some are losing touch with their emotions and become emotionless zombies, other surrender to their wildest urges and turn into killing beasts.
Only a few remain unchanged, and fewer still aren’t murdered in the dead of the night. Four survivors have to bend together, figure out what’s going on, and confront the darkest realms of human nature.
They must uncover the town’s dark past and the town’s most disturbed residents to find the cause of the infection.
What makes things even harder is that the local police try to cover it all up.
Midnight is another Multi-POV novel, featuring the points of view of four unique characters. These four stories slowly converge into a central narrative.
All these character’s views add into a suspenseful story about government conspiracies, science-fiction monsters, horror and even love. One could say the book’s central theme is whether humanity would still exist without emotions.
The book has its problems, of course. Its depiction of good versus evil can be stereotypical, it can be unbelievable, and some characters can appear one-dimensional. Yet, these problems are made up for by Dean Koontz’s incredibly fast-paced writing and descriptive style.
Midnight is a masterpiece of terror and fear and amongst the best Dean Koontz books ever written.
Lightning stands out on this list of the best Dean Koontz books for being a mixture of science-fiction and humor. Yet, it remains amongst Dean Koontz’s most read books.
What makes it so good is its innovative premise and the truly impressive world-building.
Lightning centers on two characters. One is Laura Shane. When she was born, a strange storm reigned, one people would remember for many years. The other is Stefan, a man who appears and saves Laura from a fatal delivery.
Laura is now in her thirties, but is still influenced by the events that took place during her birth. One day, another bolt of lightning appears and, with it, Stefan returns to save Laure from tragedy once more. From then on, Stefan is always there to rescue her from dangerous situations.
In time, Laura wonders who the stranger is and what his motifs are. Is he her guardian angel, or does he hide a more sinister secret?
Yet, this is Dean Koontz novel, and the truth is beyond Laura’s and the reader’s wildest imagination. This is not all, however, the book explores other even more interesting ideas and concepts.
Lightning is a fantastic and suspenseful mystery novel with well-developed characters, and, of course, Dean Koontz’s usual science-fiction and fantasy elements.
Most of all, however, it’s a beautiful and sensitive story about love. It’s massively popular and one of the best Dean Koontz books.
Dragon Tears is a book filled to the brim with action and, without a doubt, one of the best Dean Koontz books out there.
It centers on Special Project police officer Harry Lyon and his partner Connie Gulliver.
One day, Harry has to shoot a man at a diner. After this event, Harry’s life changes forever and gets chaotic when he meets a homeless man who gives him a strange warning.
“Tick-tock, tick-tock. You’ll be dead in sixteen hours. Dead by dawn, Dead by dawn, Dead by dawn…”
Harry is spooked and soon discovers a secret that puts his life and those around him in danger. Yet, can he save everyone before time runs out?
Before long, this secret sends Harry and Connie on a hunt to discover the cause behind the heightened violence in their small California town.
Dragon Tears is another extremely suspenseful novel and comes with a cast of fantastic and unique characters. Fans loved the sympathetic characters, the many twists and turns and Dean Koontz’s usual fast pace.
Dragon Tears is a great novel all around and while I regard it as one of the best Dean Koontz books, anyone should check it out.
With a title like this, you can already tell what you’re in for. Intensity is an intense tale and a gripping novel about a struggle between our protagonist and a vicious serial killer.
This protagonist is Chyna Shepherd from Napa Valley. Chyna has overcome countless hardship and has preserved. After her deranged mother treated her like trash, she was forced to build a shell of self-sufficiency.
These skills proved to help her when a sociopathic murder breaks into her close friend’s home and kills everyone.
That man’s name is Edgler Foreman Vess, who describes himself as a ‘homicidal adventurer.’ He lives without fear, remorse or limits, and only for intensity.
At first Chyna’s aim is only to survive, but things soon change. She learns Edgler has imprisoned a young girl in his home and before long she sets out to stop him and save the girl.
What sets intensity apart from other, similar novels is the deep dive into the character’s psyche. You know not only what makes our protagonist tick, but also the killer. You’ll understand what brought them together that night, their motifs and their different worldviews. Each different theme in this novel is well-developed. Be it Chyna’s hope and morals or Edgler’s nihilistic sadism.
Especially Chyna stands out as one of Dean Koontz’s greatest protagonists and comes with a fantastic character arc.
Despite this focus on the character’s inner workings, the pace never slows down and comes with some fantastic action scenes and mental warfare.
This is a novel that will make you sweat. If you love cat-and-mouse thrillers, you will love Intensity. It’s clearly amongst the best Dean Koontz books.
Watchers is yet another thriller rich in science-fiction elements. It’s not only one of the best Dean Koontz books, but it’s the one that launched his status as a best-selling writer.
The story follows Travis Cornell, a Delta Force operative with depression who’s trying to find purpose in his life.
When he finds a golden retriever near his home, he names the dog Einstein because he shows unusual intelligence for a dog. The two of them soon bond and become best friends.
When he goes on a trip with his dog, the dog refuses to go deeper into the woods. While he’s frustrated at first, he soon realizes that his dog’s trying to protective him from a terrible evil. It’s the horrific entity called Outside that’s out there and soon begins hunting him down.
Both Einstein and Outsider were both genetically engineered at a government lab. While Einstein’s men’s best friend, the Outsider is a vicious abomination, hell-bent on killing the dog and anyone who gets in his way.
Soon enough, there’s more trouble, for Outsider isn’t the only danger. Travis finds himself on the run from federal agents, as well as a professional assassin hired to kill everyone who knows about the project that created Einstein and the Outsider.
Watchers is basically Dean Koontz’s love letter to dog being man’s best friend.
Dean Koontz himself describes this novel as his most terrifying, dramatic and moving. It’s a novel that blends the bond between a man and his dog, science-fiction and horror, into a fantastic read. If you want to read one of the best Dean Koontz books, you really should check out Watchers.
Odd Thomas is a supernatural mystery thriller and the first in Dean Koontz’s bestselling series by the same name. It’s by many thought of as one of the best Dean Koontz books out there, or even his best.
The first book in the series introduces us to the 20-year-old ‘Odd Thomas,’ a short-order cook. He emerged from a pretty rough childhood, but hasn’t lost his good nature. At first glance, he might appear normal, but there’s something truly ‘odd’ about him. He can communicate with the dead, also recognize daemon-like bodachs who surround those fated for death.
Thomas uses his abilities for good and tries his best to bring justice to the ghosts who seek his help.
One day, however, he finds himself confronted with forces that threaten everything he knows and loves. A figure called the ‘Fungus Man’ shows up at his diner, surrounded by more bodachs than he’s ever seen before.
As he pries deeper into these forces, he understands that his abilities might be no match for them.
Even worse, he realizes his girlfriend’s life is at stake and he sets out to stop them.
While it’s a paranormal fiction novel about the battle between good and evil, it contains its fair share of amusing elements. For example, a cast of famous ghosts who keep Odd Thomas company, including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
Odd Thomas is an excellent book and worthy of its position on this list of the best Dean Koontz books. It’s a mixture of suspense, humor and heart that comes together in Dean Koontz’s unique way.
Phantoms is probably the best of Dean Koontz’s many books. Even Stephen King regards it as one of his favorite novels.
The story surrounds two sisters, Jenny and Lisa Paige who return to their hometown. At first, they find everything quiet and the town abandoned. Soon they find out that not only their family, but everyone else in town is dead or missing.
All that remains are a few bloated corpses that appear to suffer from some sort of disease and are warm to the touch.
They get in contact with a neighboring town’s police and even a biological team is sent to learn more about the tragedy.
It soon becomes clear, however, that their death can’t be explained by an outbreak and more sinister forces are at play.
It’s only when they come upon the research of one Timothy Fylte that it becomes clear what’s really at play. They learn of an ancient creature that’s at fault for destroying the town.
This enemy, slumbering underground, consumes every living thing in its path and can absorb the consciousness of its victims. This allows the creature to create ‘phantoms’ which take on the form and behavior of those it consumed.
What makes this book stand out is the terrible horror at play, which was heavily inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Yet, the resolution to this book is much smarter than you think, and the concept behind it is fantastic.
Phantoms is, without a doubt, amongst the best Dean Koontz books of all time. It’s a fantastic, thrilling book and worth reading for anyone, not only fans of Dean Koontz.