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The Darkest Evening of the Year Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews Review Exclusive:
The Darkest Ice Cream of the Year by Dean Koontz

I once said writing a novel is sometimes like making love and sometimes like having a tooth pulled--and sometimes like making love while having a tooth pulled. I arrived at one of those joyful yet excruciating moments while working on The Darkest Evening of the Year.

Because I am obsessive about the revision of each page--the word fussbudget is embarrassingly apt when I am brooding over whether to use a comma or a semicolon--I have more than once held on to a manuscript until the drop-dead date for delivery. When that date rolled around for this book, I had written everything, but I was unwilling to send all of it to my editor. I withheld the last fifty pages for another four days, causing a quiet panic in those at my publishing house who are responsible for meeting production deadlines.

Although the book was done, I felt that something was wrong with Chapter 63. The action worked, the characters were in character, the mood was sustained...but something felt wrong with it, some fine point of the villain's motivation. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I worked 12-hour days, trying to identify the source of my doubt, but couldn't specify it to my satisfaction.

Nothing like this had ever happened to me. Previously, my worst struggles with a story had come in the first two-thirds, and the final third had been, if not a sweet swift toboggan run, at least a sleigh ride.

Sunday, I got up at 6:00 and set to work, revising, looking for the thorn I could feel but couldn't see--and ended up working 22 hours, eating at my desk, before tumbling to the problem at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning. "Eureka!" I cried, but I was so weary and my voice was so weak that my shout of jubilation came out as a squeak.

The revisions required to Chapter 63 were minor, but after working 58 hours in four days, after having passed a night without sleep, I was unable to focus sharply enough to get them done in the little time that remained before the production schedule would be derailed. In desperation, I turned to that source of creative energy and literary enlightenment that is without equal: ice cream.

I shuffled to the kitchen and snared a Dreyer's Slow-Churned Vanilla Almond Crunch bar from the freezer. I devoured this sweet-and-creamy muse, and felt the scales lift from my eyes; inspiration sparkled between my ears. I finished the revisions and e-mailed the final version of Chapter 63 to my editor with not a minute to spare. Although the American Heart Association will take issue with me, my advice to young writers stuck on a scene is to stop worrying about your arteries and give your wheel-spinning imagination what it needs to find traction: a tasty shot of fat and sugar.

--Dean Koontz, October 2007

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Koontz's latest tale of a mysterious canine that devoted animal rights activist Amy Redwing brings into her home is a powerful thriller that should have the listener's pulse racing. Sadly, the narration by singer and entertainer Kristen Kairos is bland and uninspired, resulting in a near-tedious listening experience. Her voice is machine-like and conventional, droning on in a monotonous tone that leaves little room for improvisation. Redwing becomes a ditzy airhead from the get-go, which makes it harder to feel sorry for her when things eventually fall apart. Unless the character is a drunken maniac or soft-spoken nun, Kairos offers little shift in tone and dialect for the large cast of characters that pop up throughout. Moments of the utmost tension and suspense are lost in Kairos's insipid reading, a shame considering the story is one of Koontz's best in years. By the third chapter most listeners will have lost interest.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739332961
  • ISBN-13: 978-1415943250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (387 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

353 of 387 people found the following review helpful By Stacey Cochran on November 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Length: 3:19 Mins
Amy Redwing operates Golden Heart, a Golden Retriever rescue service, that brings her to the home of abused housewife and mother Janet Brockman. Amy and her close friend Brian McCarthy rescue Janet, her two kids, and their retriever Nicki from Janet's abusive husband. Immediately, Amy recognizes a seemingly supernatural connection with Nicki, the golden retriever.

And soon thereafter, Amy discovers that she is being followed.

The power of this novel lies in the genuine compassion that Dean Koontz exhibits through Amy and her love for and near obsession to rescue both people and dogs from abuse and neglect.

If there's a weakness to this novel it's that Amy can come across as unintentionally self-righteous and holier than thou.

Regardless, it's clear that Dean Koontz is a mature writer, and his desire to bring together the suspense-writing strengths of his early career with matters close to his heart are on full display in The Darkest Evening of the Year.

This novel contains a couple of plot twists that are really, really cool, and the textured layers of the characters, their multiple names and the depths of their backgrounds indicate that Koontz is onto something profound in this novel.... namely the existence of a soul and how that soul transmits through multiple lives.

This is a profound novel from a writer who has mastered the elements of suspense, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Stacey Cochran
Author of CLAWS available for 80 Cents
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By TMStyles VINE VOICE on December 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This novel is certainly dividing Koontz fans as evidenced by these reviews. I sense some of that might be attributed to the fact that "The Darkest Evening of the Year" seems bifurcated to me into a suspense thriller on the surface where a true morality play between good and evil occurs and a secondary storyline that focuses on educating the reader about the plight of abandoned and endangered dogs and the agencies and people who are dedicated to rescuing them. I suspect Koontz used this story to pay homage to his family's beloved Trixie (his own golden who recently died from cancer)and to assuage the pain of herloss...certainly his touching dedication written to his wife Gerda would lead to that conclusion if nothing else.

Amy Redwing rescues dogs and attempts to develop a relationship with Brian McCarthy while hiding a troubled past. Brian has unresolved baggage of his own and sometimes helps Amy in her rescues and is present when she bravely stands up to an abusive bully and, in the process, extricates the man's wife, children, and golden retriever, Nickie from the home.

Nickie and Amy become inseparable after a seemingly supernatural connection and Nickie becomes a major protagonist for the rest of the story with links to both Amy's and Brian's pasts. Just what or who is Nickie and does she have special powers (as have some dogs in previous Koontz novels)? How is she linked to Amy's past and Brian's future?

The suspense in the novel is keenly felt due mainly to Koontz's extreme characterizations. The good guys are almost one dimenionally good and, of course, are kind to and love dogs. The bad guys are unredeemedly evil and, inexplicably want dogs (especially Nickie) "killed good and hard". There is no middle ground here...
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Bob D'Amato on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is unpleasant to admit that a great one has feet of clay, especially a great one who one has come to expect has no flaws artistically. But such is the case when I just completed reading Dean Koontz's The Darkest Evening of the Year. It is an example of the courtesan revealing herself to be nothing more than a whore with good make-up.

The great Koontz traits are here--innocents in peril, deranged evil psychopaths on the march toward Armageddon, righteous causes beautifully expressed, lavish prose that requires one to read slowly and repeatedly--but this book is a mess. It's a great man writing simply to write, either for money or expediency, but without conviction or compelling need. A pay check will do.

Koontz, when working with his favorite dogs, golden retrievers, can still call forth a tear to the most jaded eye. But really! This is just a mish-mush. He creates a sinister psychopath, Vanessa, who is nothing more than a wan imitation of his great female nutsoid, Datura. This girl has no reason to exist, she has no background, family, or believability that would have produced such a monster except for Koontz's desire to shock us.

Then there are the trademark Koontz tropes--the nice guy who kills at the end of a chapter, so coldly, so irrationally. The weird but believable sub characters who populate an underworld we hope does not exist. The use of the word "susurration." (I wait for that and the use of the word "butter" to make sure I am truly in "le monde Koontz.") But this book is all formula, no substance.

Let's see. There is the demimonde of a child who is inarticulate but wise, oh so wise. Dogs have prescience and supernatural goodness and direction. Intuition trumps all rationality and reason.
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