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Dean Koontz needs no introduction, but his newest novel does — at least, a small one. The author is set to release the thriller Elsewhere on Oct. 20; it follows a father and daughter who come into possession of a very mysterious object, which the local eccentric who passed it on to them called "the key to everything." The key comes with a warning that it must never be used, but of course that doesn't exactly happen.

EW is exclusively revealing the cover above, and below you can read the first excerpt, of the novel's creepy prologue.


Without need of a door and unconcerned about the security-system alarm that has been set, the library patron arrives at three o’clock in the morning, as quiet as any of the many ghosts who reside here—from those in the plays of Shakespeare to those in the stories of Russell Kirk. The aisles between the cliffs of books are deserted. Darkness enfolds the great room and all its alcoves. The staff is home sleeping, and the custodian finished his daily chores an hour earlier. The air smells of pine-scented cleanser and wood polish and aging paper.

Although no watchman patrols this maze of valuable knowledge, the patron does not feel safe. Most would assume a library to be a haven in a world of tumult, but the patron knows better. He has seen numerous gruesome horrors and has much experience of terror. He no longer trusts any place to be an absolute refuge from danger.

For one like him, who knows not just a single history but many, libraries are not infrequently places of death. Librarians and other champions of the written word have been shot and stabbed and burned alive and hauled off to concentration camps to be tortured or used as slave labor. Libraries are not safe places, for their shelves are filled with books, but also with ideas regarding freedom, justice, truth, faith, and much more, ideas that some find intolerable. Book burners of all political persuasions know where to find the fuel when they feel the hour has come for action. The post-midnight patron knows this town, Suavidad Beach, in all its manifestations, but he can’t be sure that this one offers what he needs. On arrival, fresh from another library, he switches on a flashlight. Hooding the beam with one hand, so that it won’t carry to the high-set windows, he makes his way to the computer alcove and sits at a workstation.

Soon he’s on the internet, then to Facebook, where he finds the page he wants. There are amusing posts by Jeffrey Coltrane and by his eleven-year-old daughter, Amity, but none by his wife, Michelle. Indeed, there are as well photos of Jeffrey and Amity, although none of the girl’s mother, as if perhaps she died long ago. This prospect excites the patron.

As the enormous library wall clock ticks softly with each passing minute, the patron searches the public records of Suavidad Beach, seeking a report of the woman’s demise. He doesn’t find it. What he does find, in the electronic files of the Suavidad Beach Municipal Court, is a petition filed by Jeffrey Coltrane to dissolve his marriage to Michelle. Jeffrey has neither seen nor heard from her in more than seven years, but he does not seek to have Michelle declared dead, only to be released from his marriage to her. He is not the kind of man who can stop hoping. His statement to the court is eloquent, profoundly sad, yet threaded through with a wistful optimism.

Jeffrey’s hope is surely naive. The patron has much knowledge of murder and has often been present at scenes of savage slaughter. In this case, Michelle is no doubt dead. Her death is both a tragedy and a cause for celebration.

The patron switches off the computer. He sits in darkness for a while, thinking about death and life and the risks of trying to foil fate.

At 4:10 a.m., he leaves the library as he came, with no need of doors and without setting off the alarm.

This is the eleventh day of April.

Excerpted from Elsewhere, by Dean Koontz, with permission from the publisher, Thomas & Mercer. Copyright © 2020 by The Koontz Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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