But there is more here than a very good thrill ride–although that would be enough. Dean also mounts some well aimed social criticisms, including a couple of references to the importance of human exceptionalism, Second Life, nihilism, purposefulness versus purposelessness, and the consequences of pure hedonism. More than that, he continues his exploration of the nature of evil–and while there are many villains in the book, one is the most purely malevolent that he has yet conjured. And he also shows the true meaning of intrinsic human dignity through a very vividly drawn character who is completely under the control of the evilist villain. And here’s a bonus: If you love dogs, you will really love this book. Prepare to shed a few tears, too.
Predictably, the NYT reviewer hated it. (Warning before hitting the link: The reviewer is a little too heavy on describing the plot. And one correction to an assumption she seems to have made: Dean did not write this book because his dog Trixie died. He was in the middle of writing the book when that event befell the Koontz household.)
Dean’s writing in Darkest Evening is as tight as a drum. And ironically, as his characters live (and die) through their darkest evening of the year, Dean’s optimism shines through. It’s a very entertaining read. Check it out.