What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz
Detective John Calvino is a man haunted by the events of a horrific childhood that he has shared with only his devoted and loving wife, artist painter, Nicolette. When Calvino visits a 14 years old killer, Billy Lucas, in prison, he begins to suspect that there is more to Billy’s story than meets the eye. Billy’s crimes seem to mirror those of Alton Blackwood, the sadistic psychopath who slaughtered John’s family when Calvino was 14. It was John who managed to slay Blackwood that fateful night.
As John investigates the life of Lucas, he discovers yet more pointers that scream that the killing sprees are connected. Although Blackwood murdered a number of other families yet Billy killed only his own, Calvino becomes convinced that there are dark forces at work that set the scenes of both, and require the blood of more innocents before they are done. He comes to believe that his own family may soon be targeted. But by what?
This is a paranormal thriller. It was published in 2011 and has echoes of the Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay. The ruthless killer is a demon named Ruin who inhabits the bodies of those who are morally questionable and therefore susceptible. Blackwood was evil as a man and made the perfect ‘ride’ for the evil entity. Billy Lucas, however, was not. In this the plot is weak.
Ruin jumps from person to person and back again like a flea as it prepares the ground for the ritualistic slaughter to come (I suppose that’s kinda like the opinions of Donald Trump, as the world gears up for US Administration-inspired global conflict). Calvino struggles to stay ahead of the demonic entity in a desperate attempt to protect his wife and three children. In this, there are plenty of ideas to exploit in such a premise. Sadly, Koontz fails.
The writing in What The Night Knows is good as is usual with Koontz. He’s a skilled author and his success is testament to that. The settings in this effort are strong. By and large the characters are consistent, although in some respects their behavioural patterns lack credibility. The children do not react to strangeness the way children normally would. Koontz struggles to keep the plot on track and the entire story loses traction as a result. The ending is questionable and was a disappointment given the potential.
Rebel Voice has previously wrote of Koontz’ dog-worship. In this novel there is the heroic spirit of a dog to keep us entertained. Yes, that’s right, a ghost-dog. In the author intro, it states that Koontz lives with his wife, dog, and ‘spirit of their dog Trixie‘. Apart from the fact the Trixie is a bird’s name and must have been confusing for the poor dog, there is also the seemingly irrefutable fact that Deano has a problem.
Koontz looks like a really hairy bastard in his cover pic, so perhaps there is some lycanthropy going on in the Koontz household. In any event, What The Night Knows is not the worst book you will ever read, but is far from the best. Koontz continually fails majestically with some novels, all the more dramatically given his obvious talent. Some of his books are like really attractive house that impress from the outside, but when you enter you find large dog-turds spread over the furniture and dead rodents lying scattered around, with ole Deano walking around naked showing his hairy naked ass to all and sundry. Now that’s a scary thought.
Sult scale rating: 5 out of 10. Probably best to give this one a miss as you may end up deflated and tempted to call Animal Welfare to find out if Koontz has gotten all of his shots.