In the late summer of a long ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he 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.This is definitely one of the better Koontz books. Granted, I haven't read all of them yet but I have a fair amount and What the Night Knows belongs to the group that will definitely satisfy the old fans and has a good chance of attracting new ones as well. It's a straight ghost story with demonic possession and even a little bit of exorcism involved. Which is exactly how I like it, even though nothing scares me more than ghosts.
Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, recreating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family—his wife and three children—will be targets in the fourth crime, 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.
I got into the story right away. The action develops quickly without really much introductory descriptions (which is otherwise quite common for the larger of Koontz's novels). The gruesome murders are the intro so you now you're in for quite a thrill ride. Unfortunately, it all somehow comes to a stop in the middle of the book and we get to learn details about the main character that maybe we should have learned in the beginning. But then again, it's probably a smart strategy because by the time I got to the middle, I was too much into the whole story to quit and to be honest, the slowdown in action wasn't annoying enough to warrant giving up on the whole novel.
Besides, even with all that said, Mr. Koontz still writes extremely well and it's a pleasure to read yet again some important existential questions hidden between the pages of this horror story. What makes people susceptible to evil? Is there evil that sometimes cannot be fought merely with guns, prisons and justice? Or, what is more evil, the supernatural that lurks in the night or the human that may be just around the corner? This is signature Koontz and I've come to expect it, and I wasn't disappointed when I read What the Night Knows. Don't be put off by the slower parts either because they pick up as well and the third part of the book is just smooth sailing. The only thing you need to be aware of is that may need to sleep with your lights on for a night or two.
FTC: I received an ARC of What The Night Knows from a GoodReads First Reads giveaway.
The hardcover copy of What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz will be released on December 28, 2010 by Bantam Dell.