Thursday, March 8, 2012

What the Night Knows.

Title/Author: What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz.

Narrated by: Steven Weber.

Genre: Supernatural/Horror.

Publisher: Brilliance Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character:  Minnie.

Favorite quote: "I want my candy." ~Alton Turner Blackwood.
"The bird had come to offer him the night." ~Journal of A. Blackwood.

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.

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. Here is ghost story like no other you have read. In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. Of all his acclaimed novels, none exceeds What the Night Knows in power, in chilling suspense, and in sheer mesmerizing storytelling.

My Thoughts:  This book started out very promising.  Detective John Calvino visits Billy, a young teen-age murderer in a pysch unit, but Billy isn't what he seems.  I thought it would be interesting to learn about Billy's struggle and perhaps ultimately his redemption.  However, Billy's part is very short. Oh well.  John suspects that these murders have to do with the slaughter of his own family twenty years ago and fights to secure the safety of his wife and children.  The supernatual and scary occurences happen rather quickly and as a Horror fan, I really appreciated the gorey elements in the book. The villain, Alton Blackwood is a pretty awesome bad guy.  Crazy and demented with appetites that are not for the weak of heart. 

My biggest problems with this story is the overkill of narrative, the language that Koontz sometimes indulges in and familiarity of the story.  I don't need to know every thought that John and each member of his family has.  A few will do and then I would like to get back into the story.  Also Koontz does have a gift with  descriptive, lovely writing but sometimes his play on words goes a bit unnecessarily over the top.  Also, there were certain elements of the story that I have seen before in Koontz books including the hero dog and other familiar players.  What the Night Knows also reminds me of the movie Fallen starring Denzel Washington. 
One thing I did like though, besides the wonderful gore and creepy bad guy that I mentioned above is how the family came together to fight the evil and ultimately for each other's lives.  I don't feel that the book concentrated that much on character development, but I do like the way that Koontz weaves John's backstory.  There are also chapters taken from Blackwood's journal which are truly horrific and provide insight into Alton as well.  These added an interesting background into the mind of the killer.  Another person that isn't very likeable, but I feel is a great character is the former Priest Father Abelard. He has a very small part but his revelations are frightening. He actually reminds me of someone I could find in a Stephen King book. (Sorry to compare.)

Steven Weber is one of the best performers of an audio book I've encountered (my first prize however, still goes to Luke Daniels) but Weber is definitely a contender.  He captures the characters well.  He is scary and eerie when he portrays the villain and strong and stoic when portraying John.  His inflections and differentiations are subtle however so you are not jarred from voice to voice.

Overall, the scary parts were good and the premise is a good concept.  I did like this book, but I think I may have liked it more if I hadn't read several of his other books.



Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

this happened to me..i read all of his books, and then suddenly they didn't work, yes i liked them, but they didn't excite me as much and the plot got bogged down by unnecessary stuff. Great review.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Amazing review! I tend to judge Koontz books with his other books. Compared to My Heart Belongs To You, What The Night Knows was great. Did you read the short novella that featured Alton Blackwood? I read in on my kindle when it came out (before the book was released) and it was about a young boy who meets Blackwood. I agree that Koontz pulls the magical dog/super smart kid often, but I'll admit its one of the things I like about him. I was really surprised with the character of the priest- usually Koontz has heroes and baddies, but the priest was a super complex.character. I'm really excited for the next Odd book- David

Unknown said...

I haven't read any 'new' Koontz in a long time. His old stuff is great, especially where he lets his dark side go wild with books like The Bad Place, Twilight Eyes, Phantoms, and Mr Murder. When he gets too literary and philosophical, softening the horror for something else, I tend to lose interest.

Nice review.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Oops, typing on a smart phone with dumb fingers. But my favorite narrator is David Aaron Baker who does the Odd books. I have It on audio, narrated by Steven Webber so I can't wait to listen to it! And a new Odd manga is coming out soon! said...
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