Dean Koontz chooses Amy Redwing for the role of good in the battle of good versus evil in The Darkest Evening of the Year. At the beginning of the novel, Amy, an animal rescuer, goes on an emergency rescue with her boyfriend. They are confronted by a wife-beating drunk who is threatening to kill the family dog. And in an unbelievable move of good will, Amy offers to purchase the golden retriever, Nickie, for an exorbitant amount of money. After our introduction to Amy, Brian, and Nickie, Koontz reveals the book's villains in the forms of Harrow and Moongirl. They are the depraved, child abusing, murderers that motivates Koontz's canine heroine to lead Amy and Brian into a number of dangerous, but overall necessary situations.
Like the typical Koontz tale, there is the expected and ultimately fulfilling "twist" at the end of the novel. Readers are not left to wonder what happened to the people who made Amy and Brian into the people they are, and readers receive the happy ending that makes the novel a solid Koontz story.
However, although I am usually a fan of Koontz's particular brand of the supernatural, I found this story to be a little bit over the top. This is the second Koontz novel I've read that features a golden retriever at the heart of the plot. Unfortunately, unlike Watchers, this retriever lacked the complexity that was evident in the dog that appeared in the earlier novel. Additionally, the novel included so many revelations, supernatural happenings, and characters with emotional 'baggage,' that one begins to get the feeling that Koontz is attempting to figure out how much he can get away with in this novel. I found this aspect of the novel to make it one of Koontz's least satisfying tales. If you're looking for a more tightly woven and a less fantastical plot, look elswhere.
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