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on 24 September 2012
It has been a long time since Dean Koontz wrote a supernatural story. With "What the Night Knows", he returns to his old ways and gives us the haunting we have been awaiting for years.

Twenty years ago, John Calvino shoots a serial killer who has already slaughtered his family. Now a cop, John is faced with a series of murders very similar to those of his past. The murderer, however, is a boy possessed by the lingering spirit of the man John killed; the spirit is out for revenge and set on completing his original murderous spree.

There's a lot of stuff going on in this novel, with plenty of interesting characters, yet here and there it lacks a bit of explanation. The lead is once again a homicide detective, but one with a family similar to those we have seen in Koontz's more recent stories like "Life Expectancy" and "Relentless". John's wife Nicky isn't as colorful as other leading ladies, however. A bit lacking in feisty personality, sometimes it seems she's only there because the story needs a wife.

Their two daughters reminded me of the girls in "Mr Murder". They're your typical pre-teen Koontz kids with an uncanny understanding of the world and a very extensive vocabulary.

The son, while a very different character in every regard, still reminded me of Fric in "The Face". In fact, there are many more similarities, not in the least the "man-in-the-mirror", with that novel.

What set me off a bit in this story was the setting, the house where most events take place. Here we have a family of five, and two helping hands on the household staff, but the property is so huge they rarely see or hear each other; in the novel's finale, there are several more people hidden all over the place, and still nobody hears the others being attacked. For me, Koontz didn't describe the house as well as he did the mansion in "The Face"; there we really get a scope of the mansion, a sense of its size, while in "What the Night Knows" it's simply assumed and taken for granted.

Alton Blackwood is a very interesting villain and I really liked how we got a glimpse of his life and point of view through his journal entries. This is a very interesting technique, interweaving the backstory with the current events. The chapters told from the point of view of Blackwood's spirit and his "horses" are in the present tense, which Koontz has done several times before.

Blackwood's backstory made me think of Walter Sullivan, the villain in the survival horror video game "Silent Hill 4: The Room". The entire book has the same dark, oppressive atmosphere about it; there's hardly any witty dialogue or other attempts at humor in it. The way he uses other people to do his bidding reminds me of the brainwashed people in countless other Koontz books, and also a bit how the A.I. in "Demon Seed" takes control of the convicted murderer. But what it really made me think of, was that old Denzel Washington movie "Fallen", where it's the angel/demon Azazel switching human bodies by any contact to do his killing.

The whole business with the Calvino kids being targeted, and John having to sacrifice himself, reminds me of "Darkness Comes"/"Darkfall". Blackwood's deal with the demon Ruin is similar to the voodoo practices, though I did wish we could have seen a bit more of the actual procedures, how he actually succeeded in coming back.

Then there's what Koontz himself describes as "machina-ex-deo", the portal made from Lego blocks, and the returning spirit of the family dog. I had this feeling that Koontz wanted to achieve or even top the same effect of the "rewind" featured in "Relentless", but for me personally he fails in doing so. Perhaps it's simply because this time it's down to divine intervention instead of the scientific genius of one of the characters. While the earlier chapter hinting to this climax - John talking to the priest - was very interesting, the way the ending was finally worked out didn't really do it for me.

Yet even with a few flaws, "What the Night Knows" is a very engaging ghost story, far better than his previous books "Breathless" and "Lost Souls". Even with a lot less time to read, I flew through the novel at a very fitting breathtaking speed.
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on 24 January 2012
The premise harks back to some of DKs earlier (and better) works.
The story: an evil demon 'Ruin' takes possession of people and compels them to do the usual bad stuff. They're coming after our hero and his family who are the usual DK characters with the mandatory canine (except in this case it's actually the ghost of said canine). So far so predictable: you know what you're getting with DK.

But, and it's a big BUT, this book is boringly verbose at times and needs serious editing. It's 400 pages long and could easily be chopped back to 300: this would keep the pace up and not lose anything from the main story.

If you're new to DK, don't buy this. Buy The Bad Place, or Watchers or Lightning instead.
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on 6 September 2011
I am one of DK's fans and this is not his best work. I found myself walking around doing anything rather than continue reading this book. I know most horror books are fantastical but this one just goes beyond the realms of belief. If you are a DK fan like me you will read it whatever the reviews say and I wish you good luck!
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on 15 March 2011
I LOVE Dean Koontz and always eagerly await his new books but this one did not enthrall me as the ones in the past have. "What The Night Knows" felt rushed and more shallow than his other complex, challenging plots. Still a page turner but not avidly devoured as usual :o(
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on 26 September 2011
As stated by a few other reviewers, the synopsis for this novel showed great potentional.

However, I got just 200 pages through and gave up. I felt no connection to the charactors, no real interest in the story which is boring, rushed and lacks any depth.

It's like Koontz has a contractual obligation to spit out X amount of novels in X amount of time, and is just writing any old rubbish, knowing that his name alone will sell them, regardless of quality. This reads like a first attempt novel, not the works of a seasoned and experienced author. I wish one could get a refund over such drivel.

Not all things improve with age, especially not horror writers. King has recently gone down the pan as well.
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on 22 July 2011
I have been a Dean Kootz fan for many years and have always read his books with delight and when my partner bought this one for me I was delighted! That however, was to be short lived...

The story itself has a good synopsis but, when you start reading, it soon becomes unrealistic - even by his standards.

This book should be in the horror/fantasy genre. The characters are very difficut even impossible to relate to and you go through the story without forming any allegiances and in my case I really did not care what happened to any of the main family characters and the four characters at the end, to me, were pathetic! There was no proper ending and some of the characters (that survived) at the end just went away with no explanation or narrative as to where they were off to or what they would do.

I felt obliged to finish this book and it became something of a challenge to me but I did not enjoy it and would think twice before choosing any of his other offerings.
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on 17 July 2011
I will just reiterate what others have said and that this is vintage Koontz.I have ALL of his novels and i do agree with some that a couple of his more recent novels have not been up to his high standard.But if you are new to Koontz this is a good start.Then i would suggest moving on to Watchers.Lightning.Phantoms.Mr.Murder.Cold Fire.Bad Place.From The Corner of His Eye.All of the Odd Thomas books.Twighlight Eyes and for an example of his comic wit Tick Tock and Life Expectancy although a lot of his books do have smatterings of humour.After you have read these then choose whatever book you wish.You wont be disappointed because this Good Guy has it all...great style prose and characters you care about fear for and hate.I love this author and one or two duds is neither here nor there when he has given me so much pleasure over the years.Its a shame he hates flying as i would have dearly loved to shake his hand and have one or 50 odd books signed by him.Luv ya Dean!!!
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on 27 May 2014
That's how I feel about Dean Koontz. He's written some of my favourite books but has also written some of the worst I've read.

The last few I've read haven't been very good therefore this was a welcome change.

Yeah, the family are a little "too good", I'm not sure if a family as wholesome, quirky, good natured and respectful actually exists but maybe I'm just being cynical! The best character by far is the youngest daughter, Minnie, who is wise well beyond her years.

It's certainly not one of Dean's best novels, and I may have been generous with the stars as a result of it being far better than any of the recent stuff I've read of his however for the current price of 99p, it's well worth a go.
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on 22 March 2011
Hi,

Been a big fan of DK as well as Stephen king, James Herbert for a long time but have found he is getting a bit odd in his books, making the main people to indepth and unrelatable as they are so unique, so you find difficulty relating.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2012
This was my first delve into the work of Dean Koontz and I'm left feeling a bit unsure as to whether I actually liked it or not. The story itself revolves around a homicide detective, a series of murders and some sort of spiritual entity that appears to be haunting him.

At first I absolutely was hooked to this book. Koontz is nothing short of brilliant when it comes to character building and "the voice" of different characters. In particular, I was very impressed with his delivery of children's emotions and thought processes. However, when I put this aspect aside and look at the story itself I have to admit that I spent almost all of the book thinking: "There must be a logical explanation for these supposed hauntings". Some of the creepy things happening around the detectives household could be explained away with reasoning such as medications his wife was taking and the elaborate imaginations of his children, but some things (like the unlocking of doors for instance) just weren't explainable. Even by electrical malfunction or something.

The more I read the more I loved the main character. He really is interesting, his background was explored in massive depth and interestingly, the main murderer has a journal which we also get snapshots of here and there - a real insight into the mind of a killer. So some aspects were really good. However, something that really niggled me was this: Koontz significantly relied on this "spirit" to explain away the pot-holes in his plot. For instance, the main character and his family are safe in their home so nobody, possessed or otherwise, could possibly get in. So how does Koontz get the bad guys in? Oh you know, the spirit unlocks the door or smashes a window miraculously and that solves all of Koontz's problems.

But you know what, he is a good writer despite a couple of niggles of mine. I think I was a bit cynical from the get go because I really did think that there would be some really clever reasoning behind what appeared to be ghoulish and I suppose that's why I was left a bit disappointed. Overall, an okay book. I wouldn't recommend it to those used to really tangled and complicated plots with lots of twists and turns (perhaps try Jeffery Deaver) but I will be trying another of his books to see if I just picked up one of his less brilliant pieces.
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