I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Dean Koontz over the years. Years back I read Lightning and fell in love, burning through many of the early books with a vengeance. Over the years, though, I found myself frustrated by books that seemed to start out with a great deal of promise only to end in a way that made me want to throw the book against the wall.
Good reviews had me give Koontz’s Frankenstein series a shot. The first book, Prodigal Son was excellent. When I finished the second book, City of Night, I was still happy with how the series was playing out, but there were a few things happening that were beginning to make me nervous that the series was about to go in the direction of some of his other works.
Based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Koontz has Victor Frankenstein still alive via experiments that have allowed him to extend his life and living in living in modern-day New Orleans, going by the name Victor Helios. He has been continuing his experiments and developing what he considers to be a master race of clones and his own creations that don’t have the problems other humans have. He’s carefully removed certain character traits he’s deemed undesirable and left in place others he considers appropriate.
He has several problems, though. One is that there’s a bit of a crack in his plan. Some of his creations have been “malfunctioning” for lack of a better term. There also seems to be some evolution occurring spontaneously, although the details on that are still sketchy. Finally, his original creation, now going by the name of Deucalion, has come to New Orleans to hopefully finish what he could not do centuries earlier.
Deucalion and two dedicated New Orleans police detectives, Carson and Michael, attempt to craft a plan to deal with Helios. Problems arise, though, because Helios has managed to clone key people in New Orleans government and law enforcement. Carson and Michael don’t know who they can trust. To make matters worse, Carson’s younger brother is the target of one of Helios’ New Race beings.
City of Night plays out quite well. The characters that were introduced in the first book develop nicely. Koontz builds on minor story aspects he hinted at and brings them to the forefront. He also does a good job wrapping up certain storylines as well. Not every character we meet along the way in this journey is going to make it to the end.
Where City of Night makes me a bit nervous is in some of the characters that seem to be going off the deep end reminiscent of other Koontz books I’ve read. Actions and events seem to descend from an X-Files-type supernatural to the absurd. I’m trying to hold off on judgment, because there’s nothing specific in City of Night that makes me go “Oh no, not again” but I am a little worried. Koontz books have typically started with a great premise and the first half of the book ropes me in, only to end up with such a ridiculous ending I wish I’d never started it in the first place. I am hoping that scenario is not about to play out on a much larger scale than all of the books in the Frankenstein series.
With that caveat, I do recommend the series at this point, and City of Night in particular. The characters are good and the story is enjoyable if you like supernatural stories that are set in the real world. I just hope the rest of the series doesn’t take a bad turn.
Previous book in the series (link): Frankenstein Book One: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
Next book in the series (link): Frankenstein Book Three: Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz