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What the Night Knows: A Novel Hardcover – December 28, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 620 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the late summer of a long ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy.

Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, recreating
in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family—his wife and three children—will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer.

As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return.

Here is ghost story like no other you have read. In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. Of all his acclaimed novels, none exceeds What the Night Knows in power, in chilling suspense, and in sheer mesmerizing storytelling.

A Letter from Author Dean Koontz

Villains and Vegetables
Readers ask certain questions over and over again. Such as, "How often have you been institutionalized?" and "How does your wife sleep at night, knowing what kind of stories spring from your mind?" and "If you could be any kind of vegetable, what vegetable would you be?"

Because I found most schoolwork tedious, I felt as if I had been institutionalized for fifteen years--throughout grade school, high school, and college. In the grim institution called high school, as a kid in a small town, my therapy consisted of reading novels and listening to rock-and-roll on tower-of-power radio stations in distant cities. In college, my therapy was all-night pinochle tournaments. I cut more classes than Sweeney Todd cut throats.

My wife sleeps peacefully, thank you. She knows I'm basically a pussycat. We have been together since high school, and in all those years, the only living thing she has seen me cut is myself; any time I pick up the simplest tool or kitchen implement to do some minor household task, my blood will inevitably flow. I've been known to cut myself accidentally with something as seemingly safe as a rolling pin.

Sugar snap peas.

Another frequently asked question is "How do you create such bizarre yet convincing and terrifying villains." The glib answer is to say I watch the evening news. In fact, however, the antagonists in my novels create themselves, just as do the protagonists. I conceive a character around a seed of truth, some essential fact that lies at the core of him, then I give him free will, and I discover more about him as the story unfolds. Sometimes, when characters surprise me with their revelations, it seems as if they are indeed real, that I am writing in a kind of dream state that allows me to bridge this world with some parallel reality and tap the consciousness of people living

Alton Turner Blackwood, the villain of Darkness Under the Sun and of the forthcoming novel What the Night Knows, literally appeared to me in one of those exceedingly vivid dreams that are peculiar to many of us who, suffering allergies, take two or three Benedryl every night for too many weeks. Benedryl dreams are, in my experience, never flat-out nightmares. They generally do not have much in the way of storylines, but the people in them are so dimensional and so exquisitely detailed that they seem as real as anyone you would meet in real life. They are sometimes strange, as well, and menacing, though these are for the most part dreams without action, so their menace is implied.

The morning after the Benedryl dream in which Alton Turner Blackwood appeared (though he had no name in the dream), I wrote down a physical description of him, which I used word for word in the finished novel:

He stood six feet five, scarecrow-thin but strong. His hands were immense, the spatulate fingers as suctorial as the toe discs of a web-foot toad, large bony wrists like robot joints, orangutan-long arms. His shoulder blades were thick and malformed, so that bat wings appeared to be furled under his shirt.

As for how his face looks and as for the explanation of how and why such a specimen might be born: I'll let you discover those things in the novella and the novel.

Of the scores of evil characters I have created, none has so affected me as Alton Turner Blackwood. In spite of all his physical and mental strangenesses, I would not be surprised to see him one evening, walking along a lonely highway or perhaps standing under a lamppost across the street, still and watchful. Of all the eerie characters met in Benedryl dreams--many of them like people you might expect to see in Tim Burton movies--he is the only one who has made a second appearance in my sleep. And he's appeared three times. I don't know what to make of that. If his repeated appearance means anything, I guess I'll find out eventually.

Baby carrots are also cool.

From Publishers Weekly

In this less than suspenseful supernatural thriller from Koontz (Breathless), 14-year-old Billy Lucas's inexplicable slaughter of his entire family awakens the fears of homicide detective John Calvino, who as a child was the sole survivor of a similar family massacre. Though Calvino slayed the fiend who did the deed, he has always worried that the killings were demonic in nature and that the evil spirit responsible would return and harm his wife and three children. Sure enough, after Calvino visits the psychiatric ward where Lucas is held, something starts to haunt every member of his close-knit clan, though improbably and conveniently they all fail to share this disturbing development with each other. The detective believes he has a deadline to thwart the force bent on repeating the earlier murders. The terror level never reaches that of similarly themed works such as the movie Fallen. Clunky prose (e.g., Andy Tane, a cop, "is figuratively and literally a horse") doesn't help. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553807722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553807721
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (620 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By bobbewig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Whatever happened to the Dean Koontz who wrote such excellent books as Watchers, Intensity, Dark Rivers Of The Heart, From The Corner Of His Eye, and Velocity -- just to name a few? It's sad to see when an author goes from being "can't miss" to "don't bother." For me, this has been the situation with Koontz's books over the past several years.

I was hoping, however, based on the description in Amazon Vine, that What The Night Knows was going to be like Koontz's books from yesteryear -- i.e., edge-of-the-seat excitement, fully developed credible characters, realistic dialogue, and non-stop suspense. The plot is described as involving a Homicide detective who believes that his wife and children are being marked for murder in the same way his parents and sisters were brutally killed twently years earlier by a crazed murdered out on a killing spree. A killing spree that ended when the detective, then fourteen years of age, killed the murderer of his family.

Unfortunately, virtually none of what I hoped for turned out to be the case. While What The Night Knows has its moments of suspense, there are not enough of them nor are they of the caliber of suspense Koontz used to be able to create; suspense that used to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end.

Even more disappointing to me was Koontz's inability to create believable, fully developed characters as well as realistic dialogue. For me, this was particularly true about the child characters in What The Night Knows. These children, pre-teens, are so poorly developed and speak such unrealistic dialogue that I often had to stop reading in order to get my eyes to stop from rolling around in my head in astonishment.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What the Night Knows is my first exposure to Dean Koontz. While I am not a fan of books and movies that scare the life out of me, Koontz may be the exception.

This author really knows how to tell a story that grabs the reader and does not let go until the book ends. Further, he is a master of pace, suspense and thrilling action that is visual to the point that chills the reader to the bone.

Alton Turner Blackwood is the product of repeated inbreeding from 3 generations. He is the epitome of evil. He graduates from killing animals to torturing and murdering entire families.

One such family was that of now detective John Calvino who at the age of 14 was the lone survivor of Blackwood's evil quest, having shot and killed Blackwood in order to live on.

Unfortunately, early on we learn that Blackwood's ghost also lives on to enter the bodies of others to continue his evil quest that will reach John Calvino's home and family.

This is a book that is nearly impossible to put down and will keep the reader thinking about it for days to come. Enjoy!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm sure Mr. Koontz has plenty of money and doesn't need to make another book sale for the rest of his life to be secure. His readers, on the other hand, are just regular folks on a budget and can't afford to throw away good money on what turns out to be junk. I bought the Kindle edition, so I can't recoup even a part of my investment in the first yard sale of the spring. Live and learn.

I will admit that the prequel to "What the Night Knows", a novella called "Darkness Under the Sun", was very good, good enough to "hook" me into pre-ordering the novel that promised to be a continuation of the same story. I started reading "What the Night Knows" immediately, and it drew me in at first. Then it began to wear on me, especially the thought processes of the very unrealistic children. But the real killer came at the end. The book has a totally unacceptable Deus Ex Machina type ending, like Mr. Koontz had written the book without any idea where he was going, got to a certain point and decided he was tired of it and had to end it somehow, and threw in the absolute WORST ending of any book I have ever read by any writer at any time. The ending was so bad, so disappointing, so unimaginative, and so trite that I can only compare it to a punishment meted out to the reader for staying with such a totally inferior book to the very end.

In short, the ending was a TOTAL RIP OFF, and not worth the time and effort invested to get there. If there were a way to give this book NO STARS, I would gladly do it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read every book that Dean Koontz has written. I know his style like the back of my hand. His first books, Watchers, Strangers etc were like a work of art. You heart did not stop pounding until you finished. What I want to know is where did Dean Koontz go? This book was like reading a novel for tweens. I landed up flipping thru alot of pages to try and find that old feeling from his writting. It was never there. I couldnt wait for it to end and not in a good way.
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Format: Hardcover
Once upon a time Koontz was one of my favorite writers, what happened to him?... anyway I do own all of his greats twilight eyes, watchers, lightening etc. My advice to new or young readers of his work is to start at the beginning and work your way forward. I cannot be the only person who has become disenchanted with this writer. I sincerely long for the koontz of the years past.
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