Capernwray Mid Week Aquathlon

The Dive Centre in Capernwray is open once again for diving and more importantly, safe open water swimming. It is limited to 10 swimmers per two hour session and by the time we got round to booking there were only a couple of slots left. However, yesterday me and my lovely wife went there for a swim. We were also surprised by how many divers there were, but I suppose there isn’t much chance of catching a pandemic under water. For me this was my first ‘real’ swim for 3 and a half months, if you don’t include the very short swims we’ve done in the Lune (read about them here and here). I remember back in March reading that the Uni pool was going to close temporarily, with one last swim on a Thursday morning. I didn’t go because like most people I thought everything would be back to normal within a few weeks. Anyway, Helen managed 3 laps at Capernwray and I did one extra. We were both very slow and very tired by the end. Neither of us did much for the rest of the day. We’re booked in for another swim next Saturday and hopefully we’ll have found our swimming muscles by then.

This is all a roundabout way of saying how much we enjoy Capernwray for swimming. The local T2 Events also put on mid week triathlons once a month during the summer, as well as a few other events. They also organised the Kendal triathlon that I did last year on my 50th birthday (read about it here). Last August I entered a mid-week aquathlon, which was run in tandem with the triathlon. After a full day at work and driving home from Horwich I knew that even a sprint  triathlon would be hard going which was why I had entered the aquathlon. I also really enjoy aquathlons. Additionally it would give me chance to chat with loads of friends who would also be there.

There were almost 200 entrants for the sprint triathlon with about a dozen lined up for the aquathlon. The triathlon people went off first and then we followed five minutes later. As it was a gloriously hot evening, the water was nice and warm, and the swim was only 500m, I went without a wetsuit.


You forget how much extra buoyancy there is with a wetsuit until you have to tread water without one, waiting for the race to begin. I didn’t expect to be out of the water first, although I hadn’t expected a young lad in the 10-14 age group to swim over two minutes quicker than me, at least I didn’t have to struggle out of my wetsuit in transition. All I had to do was drop my goggles and pull on my running shoes, although there were still a few people doing the sprint triathlon with wetsuits who managed to get through transition quicker than me.

The run headed out of the dive centre, onto the road for a short distance before an out and back section along the canal. I soon overtook the young lad and was very pleased with my sub 20 minute 5km run leg.

Unfortunately the race was somewhat marred by a very angry competitor who had gone the wrong way on the run and was shouting at a couple of race marshals. I don’t know how he went wrong as there was a very big arrow pointing towards the canal. I tried to placate him but he wasn’t having any of it, storming off to rant at anyone else who would listen. A complete nob!

Anyway, T2 Events always put on a good race and they are hopeful about starting a few very small mid week races again in the near future.


Book Review: The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz

The sixth book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series and the third written by David Lagercrantz. I enjoyed the original trilogy of books, but I remember thinking that the fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web (read my review here), was probably slightly better than the last original one. However, the fifth book, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (read my review here), wasn’t as good and would therefore be the last one that I would purchase. As luck would have it, the sixth book, The Girl Who Lived Twice, was available as an Amazon special for only 99p. I’m glad that I did download it because it is one of the best in the series.


In the latest installment, Lisbeth Salander is almost a supporting character to Mikael Blomkvist, who searches for answers as to why a dead homeless man from Nepal has a copy of his Millenium magazing on his person, and why was he in Norway. The book also looks at Russian Troll factories, a very current threat, especially in light of Trump’s 2016 election win and the Brexit vote in the UK. The book is quite grim and gruesome in places, especially towards the end, although for once it isn’t Lisbeth who suffers.

Overall it was a very good book which I gave 4 out 5 on Goodreads. However, I am still in two minds about whether these last three books should have been written considering the animosity between Stieg Larsson’s long term partner and his close family.

Currently I’m reading the final book in the Jane Hawk series by Dean Koontz and Night Show by Richard Laymon.

A Random Selection of Books

An odd selection of books to review, with no discernible thread linking them, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Only reading one genre would get very boring. First up is;

Cult Classics for the Modern Cult edited by Michelle Browne

Ten short stories all of which are possibly the type that might have been turned into a B-Movie classic. Not all of the stories work, but as each one is fairly short you’re soon onto the next. There are aliens, zombies, modern day sirens and everything in between. The book is almost worth buying for the first story alone. A rollercoaster ride to save the planet from an alien invasion. Another truly great story involved OAPs destroying zombies in a quaint English village. Overall I gave the collection 4 stars.

Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin

I will be honest, there were two reasons that I read this book. One, it was free, and two, I lived in Oxford for over 15 years. Any detective book set in Oxford is going to be compared to the Inspector Morse books by Colin Dexter. I used to work in the Kings Arms in the centre of Oxford, a pub that was frequented by Colin most weeks, and Morse also frequented. One of the books also featured the manager of the Kings Arms going for a run along the canal and finding a dead body. That could only be me. I also remember the time that the TV show was being filmed in the pub, and all of the extras had to walk around in their socks because the wooden floors were too loud. Anyway, back to the other canal murder and there is a lot going on in this book. The main inspector is being investigated for corruption, her boss only wants to look good on TV, there are drug smugglers using narrowboats and the big crime lord wants revenge. I gave this book 5 stars, which was probably a little generous, although the measure of a series is whether you would read the next book. I might, although Faith Martin is fairly prolific and I think there are almost 30 books in this series.

Betrayal (The 1000 Revolution) by Pippa DaCosta

Another free download to entice me to purchase the whole series, which is currently at 6 books, with more to follow. Betrayal is pure sci-fi, with inter-planetary smugglers, a Star Fleet equivalent, nefarious and double crossing locals and an evil corporation which makes robots that look like humans. It’s very fast paced and you’re never sure where the story is going next, or who is the good guy (or girl) and who isn’t. There isn’t anything original in this book, but it was enjoyable enough, although it is unlikely that I will download the next book in the series. I gave it 3 stars, which is fair.

Dreaming of Death by Jewels Arthur

A very short story where the main protagonist returns home, falls asleep and has three vivid dreams. First she is being attacked by aliens, then she is in a forest being attacked by trees and finally she is attacked by zombies. In all three dreams she is saved by or herself saves three unknown people. When she wakes up the next morning, the three mystery people in her dream are moving into the house across the street. All very strange and I gave the book 2 stars, which again I think is fair.

Thin Air: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver

This was a book that my lovely wife picked up from the local Free Little Library on the next street. The back cover states that it was chosen for Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 book club. I’m sorry but it must have been a slow month for new books. The book is set in the 1930’s in the Himalayas with a group of climbers attempting to climb a never before climbed peak. Previous attempts have all ended in disaster. I have two problems with this book. First, it takes too long to get going, although the final 30 pages are good, and secondly, I kept thinking about the Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman, a brilliant mountaineering spoof (read my review here). The characters are interesting enough, although you do end up wanting the older brother to get his comeuppance sooner rather than later. Another book which I gave 3 stars, which once again I think is fair.

Running Kendal to Lancaster

Over the last couple of months me and my amazing wife have ran the non navigable sections of the Lancaster Canal, i.e. the part from Tewitfield up to Kendal (read about it here, here and here). Yesterday my plan was to put it all together and run from Kendal to Lancaster along the canal. It would have to be a team effort though, so Helen agreed to drop me off in Kendal and then meet me a various prearranged points to supply me with water and snacks, and to give me a lift home if I was too tired or had managed to injure myself. Each section would be approximately 6-8 miles. (I had my phone with me in case of emergencies, but for some reason I didn’t stop to take a single photo, so any photos in this blog were taken on previous runs.)

We parked up at the Kendal sports centre, which was looking very sad having not been open for three months. Nelly, our silly pointer, couldn’t understand why I was going off running without her or Helen. She is 9 and a half and the full run would have been too far for her. I waved goodbyes and a few minutes past 9am I set off along the footpath out of Kendal where the canal used to be. This first part is very strange. In places the route is through fields with no sign of an old canal, and then in other places there is an old bridge and a grassy dip. There is also a small section along the road where the main dual carriageway to Kendal was built, but after this point the  canal looks more like a canal, albeit empty. I walked up and over the old tunnel, the only ‘hill’ on the route.


Me and Helen had arranged that she would park up and walk towards me with Nelly and then run back to the car, giving me a nice mental boost each time. Helen spotted me and pointed our silly pointer in my direction, who ran full pelt towards me, happy to have ‘found’ me. We then gently ran the last mile and a bit to Crooklands, the first meeting point. The first section had been 7.5 miles and had taken an hour and ten minutes. Probably too fast. I filled up with water and had a snack before waving  goodbye again. The next meeting point was at Tewitfield locks.


This is the nicest section of the Lancaster canal, picturesque, quiet and with a little rain the path was nice and soft to run on. I’ve mentioned before about plans to re-open this section of the canal, although the M6 goes right over it. The idea is to move the last lock to the other side of the motorway, allowing boats passage under. I crossed over the motorway and immediately a silly pointer spotted me and nearly bowled me over in her excitement. Me and Helen then ran the last mile back to the meeting point. 14 miles done. The weather had warmed up a little, so I drank a whole load more water and scoffed a banana before setting off again, not feeling too bad at this point. Next meeting point was just south of Carnforth.

From here the canal started to get a bit busier with more dog walkers and runners. I need to mention about the number of abandoned full poo bags that I’d seen. If you’re on a secluded grassy section of the canal it is much better the leave the poo, as it will decompose naturally in 6-8 weeks, instead of putting it into a bag and leaving the bag. A poo bag will take many years  to decompose. I’ve once walked four or five miles carrying a full poo bag until I found a bin. Rant over.

This section was also a bit shorter and it wasn’t long before the familiar hound was chasing towards me. So far it had taken me just over three hours, including stops, and had run just over 19 miles. By now my legs were feeling tired, but stopping wasn’t an option. I filled up once again with water and set off. Next stop home.

This last section seemed to go on forever as the canal winds it’s way around the landscape to avoid locks or tunnels. Nice views of the sea before heading back inland. I vowed that when I reached the aqueduct I would walk across it, drinking and eating, before the final push home. It was nice to see a whole family out running together as we seemed to leapfrog each other a couple of times.

I looked at my watch a few times to see what the distance would be, although I told myself that when I reached the steps off the canal I would stop my watch and walk the last few hundred metres home, no matter if I hadn’t quite managed a full marathon. I didn’t need to worry as my run was 42.35km or 26.3miles, just a smidgen over a marathon in a time of four hours and four minutes, with ten minutes stopping time.


A couple of Strava friends saw my run and are planning on doing the same route themselves sometime in the future. For me, I might look at running from Preston back to Lancaster, again along the canal, although this would be approximately 31 miles. It also made me realise how awesome Ross Malpass’ run last year was, when he did the full 57 miles from Kendal to Preston in just under ten hours.

Back home and both Helen and Nelly were pleased to see me.  The rest of the day was mostly spent lying on the sofa reading, while Helen did amazing things in the garden. Another great day and a big thank you to Helen as I couldn’t have done it without her.



Make no mistake, Blubberhouses is a very strange name. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Bluberhus meaning house on the bubbling stream. It’s not a very big village. According to the 2011 census there were only 100 inhabitants. Anyway, that’s enough info from Wikipedia. Blubberhouses was the start and finish point for one of the best runs that me, my lovely wife Helen and our silly little pointer had ever done.


We parked up at the smaller reservoir car park, which was already nearly full as we nabbed the last spot, and headed west along the old road parallel to the horrendously busy A59. Taking it easy, walking the up hills and gently running the flat and down hill sections was the plan. We also opted to go anti-clockwise as there would be a few short cuts back to the car if needed.

Up on the old road we both looked around as we could hear horses, but couldn’t see any. Possibly ghost horses. More likely Nelly’s paws were echoing off the stone wall sounding remarkably like hooves. We soon reached the A59 and took a few moments for a gap in the traffic. This next section was the only part of the route where I was worried about staying on the footpath, however, it turned out to be fairly clear which way to go.

Due to the young grouse on the moor Nelly was on a short lead, although a  baby grouse still managed to jump into her mouth. A gentle tap on the snozzle and she released it unharmed. Nelly will be telling her friends about that for a long time. Almost as exciting as that time she found a pheasant trapped under a car outside our house. We do have to be careful around birds as she does have a tendency to lose her little brain.


With only four miles done we reached the high point of our run at the top of Round Hill. This was also where we first saw other people, 3 runners and a couple of mountain bikers. We followed the bicycle tracks down and then up to Lippersley Pike at just under half way round but all down hill from here. Again, more people, almost busy on the fell. A quick selfie with the beautiful Mrs B before setting off again. (Oh, and you might notice that I’ve had a trim.)


A little further and we came across a small house, with security cameras at the gate. We stopped to take a photo of the Menwith Hill giant ‘golf balls’. Unfortunately they are not very clear on the photo, but the track  was great for running.


There was a short section on the road towards the larger reservoir car park, with loads of cars passing us, so we opted for the slightly longer route which would take us to the Swinsty Reservoir, via a few sheep fields. Hitting the reservoir path we were immediately inundated with other people, and as we neared the higher Fewston Reservoir the number of people increased exponentially. The car park here was insane. Completely full. The last couple of miles were along the wiggly reservoir path which was very well maintained and very popular.

11.5 miles at a gentle pace, but we were all tired and thirsty. Both me and Helen had been carrying two water bladders, of which one of them was for Nelly, although she did supplement her water by drinking from muddy puddles and the odd stream.

Once home me and Nelly curled up on the sofa while my even more brilliant wife went to Aldi, bought a chicken and the cooked a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings. One of the best days out ever.


Fountains Abbey Parkrun

It’s Saturday 13th June 2020 at 3pm and it has been a very busy day so far. Up early to take Nelly, our silly pointer, for a 40 minute walk to the park, stopping off at the local free little library to drop off three books and pick one up. Gentle 25 mile bike ride with the beautiful Mrs B, who made sourdough blueberry pancakes upon our return and I’ve just baked a banana loaf. We’ve been keeping busy on Saturdays and if I’m honest, I’ve not missed parkruns half as much as I thought I would.

However, seeing as Saturday used to be parkrun day, I decided to blog about one of the best parkruns that we’ve ever done. Set in the the National Trust property of Fountains Abbey near Ripon, the run does almost two complete laps of the famous ruins. It was so good that we went back a second time a few months later.

Both times we made a weekend of it, staying at the Woodhouse Farm campsite. Very friendly, plenty of space, lots of grass for kids to run around in, perfect for families, although it was too busy for us to order food on our first night so we found a funny little pub a few miles away. Food wasn’t too bad and they let Nelly in. The second time, we stayed in a basic camping pod as it was in the middle of October and the  last weekend of the year that the campsite was open. Both times we went for a long walk in the afternoon with Nelly catching a rabbit one time and me and Helen having a play on a rope swing in a secluded wood. You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stopped playing.

Anyway, this blog was supposed to be about Fountains Abbey parkrun. The first time we were there I volunteered to run with Nelly, so I lined up at the back. The start is very narrow and there was no way the two of us could overtake many people for at least most of the first lap. The second time Helen lined up at the back with Nelly while I pushed my way to the front. I remember running behind a man with his very young son for most of the run, only overtaking them in the last km. Looking at the results and at the time he was in the JM10 age group. That young lad will be an amazing runner when he’s older. For me, the difference between starting at the front and the back was over two minutes.

As always the volunteers and other runners were all very friendly. Well, all except for one woman who barged in front of Helen as she crossed the finish line. I could possibly understand this if you were almost at the front, and my wife is an amazing runner, finishing 2nd woman overall at one parkrun and winning her age group many times, but on this day Helen was running with Nelly and as I mentioned, started at the back, so neither of us understood why this woman needed to push in front in such a rude manner. I have to say though, that is the only occasion in nearly 100 parkruns that we have witnessed such buffoonery.

Fountains Abbey parkrun is definitely the most picturesque parkrun that we’ve done, and we would recommend you should go there at least once in you’re in the area.

Three 5-Star Book Reviews

I’m trying to catch up with reviewing all of the books that I’ve read over the last couple of months, hence why I’ve been condensing them some what, as well as reviewing more than one book at a time. All three books that I review here are worthy of 5 stars.


First up is American Gods by Neil Gaiman, an epic, sprawling book. Where to begin? The first settlers in what was to become America brought their own Gods with them, but gradually people stopped believing in them, or started to believe in new Gods. The God of TV for example. There is a war coming between the old Gods and the new Gods. The main character, Shadow, recently released from prison, is offered a job by a man called Wednesday, who could be a God, most likely Thor.

The version that I read was the author’s preferred text, with an additional 10,000 words, and a short story, The Monarch of the Glen, tacked on at the end. I first came across the idea about Gods becoming normal people because no one worships them anymore in a Terry Pratchett book Small Gods. Neil and Terry were very good friends and collaborated on the equally brilliant Good Omens, so while they might have shared an idea, they took that idea in completely different directions. I noticed that American Gods has been made into a TV series. If it is half as good as Good Omens then I will definitely watch it. I suppose it all depends on whether Neil was involved in the script. A long read, but worth it.

Next up is Scythe by Neal Shusterman. I remember reading books by James Herbert and being told that I was too young, and then many years later being told I was too old to be reading Harry Potter. Don’t listen to other people; read what you want to read. I say this because some of the best books that I’ve read in the last few years have been classed as ‘young adult’. I loved the Mortal Engines trilogy, as well as The Hunger Games. Scythe is also a ‘young adult’ book. Set far into the future where death has been cured and people in theory would live forever. To stop over population, there are a group of people known as Scythes, who, for want of a better word, cull people, and when someone is killed by a Scythe they are not revived. The book follows an elderly Scythe who takes on two young apprentices, with only one of them able to graduate to a full Scythe. The book follows their story, how they interact with their families and we also meet a group of Scythes who specialise in large scale killings, becoming famous, almost rock stars.

This is the first book in a trilogy, but I have read mixed reviews about the other two books, with people saying that they go off in a different direction. I’ve not bought them yet, but this first book was too good not to give the other two a try.

Last but not least we have Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver. Dark, very dark. I like a good dark horror novel or thriller, but this was a couple of shades darker than a black hole. In short, mass suicides. A large group of strangers meet up at Tower Bridge in London and hang themselves. Why? There appears to be nothing linking any of the group. More suicides occur. A policeman not involved in the case becomes involved. I’m finding it difficult to write a review without giving too much away, although not everything is neatly tied up by the end of the book.

Definitely not a book for everyone, and even though the material is very grim I found myself riveted. Definitely another 5-star book. I will look out for more gems from Mr Carver in the future.

Running Along the Lancaster Canal – Part III

In the last month, me and my lovely wife along with our silly pointer have driven out to various points along the Lancaster Canal for a run. First off we started from Tewitfield (read about it here) and then the following week we started from Holme (read about it here). Today we started from near the village of Stainton, as close as we could park to where we had reached the previous outing, and once again headed north.

Less than a mile into the run and we came to the Hincaster tunnel and horse path, opened in 1819. The boats would be hauled through by hand, as the plaque states, with the horses going over the top, which is what we did.


There was a neat little viewing platform that extended over the canal so that you could have a look all the way through the tunnel without climbing down onto the old canal bed.


There were also a couple of small tunnel like features for Nelly to rush through, avoiding any trolls that might lurk there.


It isn’t always easy to capture Nelly in full flight, as she runs like a crazy, but happy pointer. Not far after the tunnel we had to take a detour along a road, crossing the dual carriageway to Kendal, before rejoining the footpath. There is very little left of the canal this far north, with a few bridges standing in the middle of fields.


We continued past the beautiful village of Sedgwick and across more fields, some with very placid cows and others full of sheep. Having been chased by cows last year we are wary of them, especially as a man was killed by cows near Ingleton the other week.

Before long we had reached the outskirts of Kendal where we decided to turn around and head back, instead of running into the centre. Disaster almost struck as first Helen fell over, grazing her knee and straining her wrist, and then Nelly started to limp. They are both tough northern girls, so we pushed on at a nice gentle pace, walking past the cows before stopping to take a couple of photos at the other side of the Hincaster tunnel. As you can see the canal is very overgrown.


Back through the little tunnels and to the car, where Nelly could have a long drink. I was carrying plenty of water so during the run the three of us were OK but I had left extra in the car. Nine miles of running, slightly less than the previous time, but we were all feeling tired; it must have been all the styles we had to climb over, or the up-and-over section at the tunnel. Whatever, it was another great little run. As Helen said, she couldn’t believe that she would ever say nine miles was a ‘little’ run.

Driving back into Lancaster we were amazed at the length of the queue stretching along Caton Road for the McDonalds drive-thru. The easing of the lockdown means different things for different people. We weren’t tempted.

Once home we inspected the damage. Helen’s knee was a bit swollen and neither of us could see anything in Nelly’s paw. I’m sure that everyone will be absolutely fine by tomorrow morning.

Now that we have run the whole length of the disused section of the Lancaster Canal, what’s next? We might look at leaving a bicycle locked up at Tewitfield, driving to Kendal and then running all the way back to Tewitfield. There is a nice cafe at the Greenlands Farm Village where Helen and Nelly could rest while I cycled back to get the car. Alternatively, Helen could drop me off at Kendal and I could run all the way back to Lancaster (probably just over a marathon distance), meeting me at various points to make sure that I’m OK.

Three Sport Related Book Reviews

Three very different books about sport, and after reading a few book reviews from other bloggers I’ve decided to follow suit and give each book a score out of five.


First up is;

Dare to Do by Sarah Outen

Adventurer Sarah Outen has a big dream to circumnavigate the world under her own power. She is an experienced rower, having crossed the Atlantic already, but this adventure will test her to her limits, and beyond. First up the easy bit, cycling to London. There she meets up with a friend and they kayak to France. Back on her own again and the next leg is for her to cycle all the way to Japan. I would guess that originally the idea was for each section to run one after each other, but due to weather and boat issues, it is many months before she can depart Japan to row across the Pacific. Her first attempt is aborted when a huge cyclone wrecks her boat. Strapped inside the cabin the boat is flipped over a dozen times in the storm. Second attempt and she makes it to the chain of Islands that stretch out from Alaska. Once again it is back to kayaking, before cycling across Canada, in the winter, with her soon to be wife. Last leg is the row across the Atlantic before one final short cycle trip back home.

Amazing book and an amazing woman. Great adventure reading. 3.5/5.

Running Through the Night by David Byrne

Next is a book all about ultra running over and around mountains of Europe, and it wasn’t written by the singer from Talking Heads. David used to be a very keen cyclist but took up running, and found that he enjoyed the longer and more challenging races, hence the name of the book. There are a lot of facts and figures, training hints and tips, along with some amazing places.Some of the smaller races are extraordinary, for example running in Transylvania and the northern most tip of Norway, although Mount Blanc does also sound pretty amazing.

If, like me, you’re interesting in running further than a marathon then this book will appeal to you. If you’re not a runner, then probably give it a miss. 3.5/5 for the runners, 2.5/5 for the non runners.

Countdown to Lockdown by Mick Foley

Finally we have a book all about wrestling, specifically the hardcore legend Mick Foley coming out of retirement for one last big match. I’ve been a wrestling fan since forever, although I never seem to find the time to watch it on the television box. Mick Foley had a fairly long and distinguished career, wrestling as Mankind, Dude Love and most famously as Cactus Jack. Lockdown is a pay-per-view special organised by TNA, similar to the WWE, but a lot smaller, and Mick is due to headline inside a steel cage against his old foe Sting. Mick writes about his injuries, his family and wrestling in general, as well as the build up to this big match. Unfortunately, the book isn’t very good. His first book, Have a Nice Day, was brilliant and would appeal to non wrestling fans, it’s that interesting and would get 5 out 5 from me. Countdown to lockdown is for fans only, and big fans at that, 2/5.

Top Three Books – Dean Koontz

The other week I blogged about my top three books by Stephen King (read about it here). At the time I wasn’t sure if I had picked the best three, and in hindsight I should definitely have picked Deadzone instead of The Stand, but that’s how it goes.

Dean Koontz on the other hand was far easier, even though he is even more prolific than Mr King. There are so many books that I could have included. The Nameless series which I only finished late last year (read about it here) or Odd Thomas (one of the very few Dean Koontz books to have been made into a film, and very good it is too) are both books I could easily have included, along with half a dozen others. That’s not to say all of his books are great. His Frankenstein series didn’t really work for me. However, I think that my top three choices are likely to remain as my top three.


First up is Phantoms. My Uncle was an avid reader of horror books and he gave me a whole box of them when I was about 18. Phantoms was one of them and it was one of those rare books that genuinely unnerved me, in much the same way that The Day of the Triffids did many years earlier.

A young woman returns to her small town to find the place deserted. Everyone has disappeared, much like the Marie Celeste, with dinners half eaten and still warm. She manages to phone the sheriff from the next town over who brings most of his men, many of whom don’t survive. They search the deserted town and find a clue written on a mirror by the owner of a bookstore. The clue is the name of a book, which is all about disappearances throughout history all over the world.

A scary book with a few good twists along the way. Next up is probably the most well known of all of Mr Koontz’s books, Watchers. A lonely man is out walking in the woods and comes upon a dog, who is far more intelligent than he appears to be. The dog saves the man from some unknown terror in the woods, and then the two of them be-friend a lonely woman. The three of them save each other and work together to find out just how intelligent their furry friend is, and try to discover where he came from. The obvious answer is that he escaped from a government facility, along with his ferocious evil counter part.

Many of Dean Koontz’s books feature dogs, but this is easily the best. My lovely wife, who isn’t a fan of horror books, enjoyed Watchers as well.

Finally we have Dark Rivers of the Heart, a very dark dystopian thriller. No supernatural or sci-fi elements in the book, although there is a psychopathic government paid killer. The main character used to be a cop, but left after killing someone. He travels around and meets an interesting woman who is being chased by a secretive organisation. He tries to help her, but is out of his depth and she ends up having to help him. The book is dark, and you get the feeling that the secret government higher-ups have read George Orwell’s 1984 and have thought that it was a  ‘how to’ manual. Another very good book with a very unexpected turn towards the end.

Here ends my top three books by Dean Koontz and I’m fairly happy that my choice will not change over the next few months or years, unless of course his next book is an absolute killer.

Currently reading American Gods (the extended version) by Neil Gaiman, and Thin Air: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver.