Saturday, May 5, 2012

What the Night Knows - Dean Koontz

While shopping at a downtown grocery store, I happen to chance upon this novel. Here is the book's back description.

In the late summer of a long-ago year, Alton Turner Blackwood brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy.

Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, re-creating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family—his wife and three children—will be targets, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer.

As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return.

Together with the book cover, I got intrigued as I wanted to read suspense / mystery plots again. To excite me with a page turning, edge of your seat story (or so I thought). I happily hopped my way to the check out with bills in hand.

B-I-G   M-I-S-T-A-K-E...

I was expecting to read a murder / suspense thriller thingie. Some kind of a copycat killer and how the hero of the story managed to outsmart the villain.

Even when it was supposedly a 'bestseller', here are a few reasons why it failed to impress me. (spoilers ahead).

The book started with John Calvino going to a mental hospital to check up on a 14 year old kid who murdered his own family, who seem to know a lot about Calvino but ended up dying mysteriously. John making friends with the big bulky ward I imagine to be John Coffey (big dude) from the Green Mile, only to be forgotten halfway through, followed by characters upon characters that seemed to have a promise but just got lost in the story.  Then, fast forward to a handful of chapters and you're introduced to Minnie's Lego wheel toy turning portal.. I mean, come on Dean Koontz, what the frak?!! ...A Lego wheel turning Portal... Can you imagine? Because I can't!

There was also this review from a reader that Dean Koontz, not having children of his own,  is clueless as to how young children behave, think and speak these days, in turn being unable to create believable children characters much less develop 'teenspeak' dialogues.

Here were a few irritating, hardly pre-pubescent linggo that he used for the children - shouting chestnuts! and pigfat! when they're amazed over something is so Hardy Boys 1950-esque.  'sarcasm doesnt become you',  'the spectacular tedium of it' (being in third grade - I couldn't even compose that phrase in third grade!). 'I'm fatigued' instead of saying 'I'm tired', 'emotionally wrung out' instead of saying 'I'm just damn tired!', 'pandemonium'- (I would have thought the word 'pandemonium' was some sort of pandora's box in third grade), 'torturer to some crazed dictator' (what???),and 'prespicacious' I didn't even bother to look it up on  And his editors missed to change this? Geez, they must've been sleeping on the job.

Since I don't want to end this review with a negative note, I'll give my penny's worth in forgiving the book for wasting my time:

- The moral lesson of the prequel novella - Darkness under the Sun (was actually better than the book). Evil has a way of nudging you and inviting you to open the door for them, it is up to you to accept the invitation or just ignore it. Even subtle hints of negative perception IS an invitation to something as minor as depression to something as serious as demonic possession.

- Knowing the difference between a  crow and a raven, and the significance of the raven in the story (and in the cover).

- The hippie creepy woman who gave me the heebie jeebies. I'll never look at a seemingly innocent stranger the same way again.

- The bizarre but elaborate killing rituals of Alton Turner Blackwood and their explanations as paying homage to an entity / demon called Ruin.

- Willard the (ghost) dog :)

- His youngest daughter having the 'I see dead people' gift.

Suffice to say, the novel is like a combination of the movie 'Fallen' and 'Poltergeist'. It does have its thrilling moments but sadly, it's nothing new, or nothing I haven't read or seen before - except for that blasted Lego Wheel turning portal. (Unbelievable).

I'm not quite familiar with the writings of Dean Koontz. Based on some (violent) customer reactions, I may have to (again) believe that Dean Koontz, like Lisa Kleypas, may have hired ghost writers.

I guess I have to start reading James Patterson's works, now that his name pops up on the best seller's list more often.


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