Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Darkest Evening of the Year

Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam

With The Darkest Evening of the Year, Dean Koontz returns to a familiar and loved figure from The Watchers and from his own life: a golden retriever. While it isn’t the same dog, the golden retriever is a nod to Koontz’ own dearly departed dog, Trixie.

This is a suspenseful story about order that underlies the seeming chaos rampant in our world and about an incredible bond between humans and dogs.

The story focuses upon a young lady, Amy Redwing and her boy-friend, Brian McCarthy. Amy devotes her life to rescuing abused Golden Retrievers. Brian, an architect devotes his life running after Amy. Both Amy and Brian have their own dark secrets that will converge and threaten to destroy them both.

Harrow and “Moongirl” also share a bond. Their bond is a mutual desire for destruction and violence. They are the antithesis of all Brian and Amy stand for. Where Brian and Amy see reason, purpose, and unselfishness, they see nothing but chaos and self-centeredness. All four are on a collision course with each other and they will demonstrate whether the world is ruled by chaos and chance or purpose and design.

In the center of it all are two key figures: a golden retriever named Nickie and a little downs-syndrome girl named Hope. They serve as the representatives of all that is good, either in heaven or earth.

Dean Koontz shows us once again his love for suspenseful storytelling and his underlying belief in a good that far outshines any force of evil that may exist. He also expands an underlying belief that can be found in several of his novels: the greatest evil is to refuse to take a stand against evil; even if it means resorting to violence.

Compare the two passages below from two different Koontz novels:

From the Corner of His Eye

Three years ago, in St. Mary’s Hospital, with Phimie’s warning fresh in her mind, Celestina swore that she would be ready when the beast came, but here he came, and she was not as ready as possible. Time passes , the perception of a threat fades, life becomes busier…your little girl grows to be so vital, so vivid, so alive that you know she just has to live forever, and after all, you are the daughter of a minister, a believer in the power of compassion, in the Prince of Peace, confident that the meek shall inherit the earth, so in three years, you don’t buy a gun, nor do you take any training in self defense, and somehow you forget that the meek who will one day inherit the earth are those who forego aggression but are not those so pathetically meek that they won’t even defend themselves, because a failure to resist evil is a sin, and the willful refusal to defend your life is the mortal sin of passive suicide, and the failure to protect a little yellow M&M girl will surely buy you a ticket to Hell on the same express train on which the slave traders rode to their own eternal enslavement, on which the masters of Dachau and old Joe Stalin traveled from power to punishment, so here, now, as the beast throws himself against the door, as he shoves aside the barricade, with what precious little time you have left, fight.

The Darkest Evening of the Year

She saw the knife then, how big it was.

He was not ready to use the blade, but twisted her hair to turn her, and she turned like a helpless doll.When Michael shoved her hard, she stumbled away from him and fell, and almost struck her head against a dresser. But she held on to the purse.

She tore at the zipper of the purse, reached within, rolled onto her back, and worked the double action as she had been instructed.The shot shattered something, missing Michael, but in shock he shrank from her.

She fired again, he fled, and as he passed through the doorway between the bedroom and hall, he cried out in pain when the third shot nailed him. He staggered, but he did not go down, and then he vanished.

In self-defense and in defense of the innocent, killing is not murder, hesitation is not moral, and cowardice is the only sin.

She went after him, certain that he was not mortally wounded, determined that he would be.

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