What Does the Night Know?

(Quick reminder – I am back in school so columns will be catch as catch can.)

After taking a break for a couple of years I tried reading another book by Dean Koontz. I used to really like his work, especially enjoying Watchers when it first came out. But I had to take a break when some weird political stuff started leaking into the stories, making them tedious and difficult to get through. Hoping that things had changed I checked a few more out of the library and dove into What the Night Knows. It was a bit of a mixed bag.

The story is not terribly complicated. The reader can get a feeling for what is going to happen in the first couple pages. A cop, who is not on official business, is at a mental institution, trying to interview a young teen who recently slaughtered his entire family. Covino, the police officer, also has questions for the murderer's attendants, leaving his contact info when he exits the asylum.

Covino is the sole survivor of the massacre of his parents and siblings; an event that is extraordinarily similar to the murders the inmate just committed. I use the word extraordinary because the man who killed Covino's family is dead, so couldn't have had anything to do with this new slaughter. To make a long story short, Covino is convinced that his wife and children are going to be killed the same way his parents and children were.

His new family is bewilderingly perfect. His wife is brilliant, a talented artist and is calm and perceptive. His son's only possible flaw is obsessing a little too much about becoming a Marine while the two daughters are well read, adorable, precocious and go to bed on time without arguing. As a reader we're supposed to be super worried about these guys but it's hard because they are sooo amazing and wonderful and flawless that I kind of have to wonder if he's just imagining them.

The writing is a little erratic. Parts of it are unbelievable (and I don't meant the supernatural elements), parts of it are scary, parts are silly and some parts are very well done.

My favorite bits were interactions between Naomi, the middle child, and a super creep sent to prepare the way for the big night of family murder. Naomi is a romantic who loves portal stories and the super creep is easily able to convince her that she is about to finally escape the mundane world and take her rightful place in a wondrous land. Naomi's readiness to up and light out for the territories struck me as the most authentic thing in the novel.

What the Night Knows is not a terrible book. It doesn't have nearly as much of the weird lecturing and snottiness that some of Mr. Koontz' other recent work have. (I tried another one of this books this week and there are at least three sly jabs on every page, making it extremely difficult to slog through.) There is some suspense in the story and getting from point A to point B is fairly interesting, even given that we can see point B in the first couple of pages of the novel. If you're going to be stuck somewhere with nothing to do and you happen to find this book you might as well read it. But I wouldn't go out of my way to pick it up.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from Teri Pettit, who has a wonderful collection of paper dolls on her website. This one is a young lady from 1885 who has a fabulous wardrobe. Just print, cut and play. Or you could let your kids do that, if applicable. http://tpettit.best.vwh.net/dolls/pd_scans/hp/nellie_holder.html