Image from Amazon.com
I was trapped waiting for my truck last week, after a routine smog check/oil change that lead to four visits to the shop and $1200 in repairs (so far). But on that first visit, to fill my time, I walked to K-Mart and found a new Dean Koontz paperback book to read.
I love Dean Koontz (and Stephen King, Robin Cook and John Saul), despite the derision he gets from "true" literary fans. I don't care if real readers don't like him, I do. The Other Half and I do have a joke about any new Koontz book though, "Wait, don't tell me. It's about a golden retriever, a man and a woman who fall in love under strained circumstances in a Jeep Cherokee in Orange County, and everything wraps up a little too quickly."
The Darkest Evening of the Year, the book I picked up, fits that joke exactly, except Koontz seems to have switched car preferences to Fords (this time an Expedition). But I can forgive him, especially as it pertains to the dog(s), since he lost his beloved golden recently. And despite the repetition in themes, I've always enjoyed his books. One of the interesting Koontz themes, is the tendency to have a seemingly supernatural force that is eventually explained to be natural.
In this book, the other-worldly happenings aren't explained away, in fact they are sort of shrugged off. It didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book, but it did lead me to sort of shrug it off when I was finished. I was interested all the way through, got to the end, and put it down. Done. Not interested any more.
The title has nothing to do with the story. The characters were interchangeable with those from any other Koontz books. The dogs were lovingly described, and I cared what was going on, while it was going on. But a lot of books leave me wanting more, leave me sorry that the book was finished. This one was just over and done.
It wasn't the worst book I've read by this author or any other. In fact, it was better than many, and a worthwhile way to pass the time. But I wouldn't go out of my way to catch this one. Read it during your next flight, or the next time you (like me) have car trouble. But seek out a different one if you're looking for a meaty story. I hope Mr. Koontz finds a suitable replacement in his heart for Trixie, his dog, and moves on to other material. And I'm sure I'll be back to read it, whatever it is.
Review: OK for fans, pass for others.