A friend with whom I share book suggestions asked the other day if I had read The Darkest Evening of the Year. She had started reading Dean Koontz following my recommendation of Life Expectancy.
Much to my chagrin I've owned the audiobook since, well probably the darkest evening of last year, but I hadn't listened to it yet as of the other day. So, I've set out to rectify that by bumping it to the top of my listening queue. (Now that a new Odd Thomas book is almost due.)
The whole idea of getting an iPod and an audiobook subscription was to get me to the gym so that I can listen while exercising, and Koontz is always a good choice since his tales are ever suspenseful.
An Illustrative Tail (I Meant Tail - That's Not a Mistake Just a Bad Pun)
I've been particularly interested in The Darkest Evening of the Year because he's managed in a non-didactic way to tell a story that spotlights golden retriever rescue.
Koontz, as you probably know, loves golden retrievers and sadly lost his pet and companion, Trixie, before beginning the novel. In his podcast he reported that for a five-week period after her death he could not write, and that delayed his start on Darkest Evening though he ultimately wrote it in a fast burst of inspiration.
What I admire about the novel is that it blends a typically excellent Koontz story with information on a cause about which he is passionate--animal welfare. Koontz further uses the tale to explore the human-animal bond. (Speaking of which, my cat, Miss Daisy, is on my lap--OK make that standing on my keyboard, OK make that trying to contribute--as I write this.)
A lesson for writers
The novel is an admirable use of the fictional form and worthy of examination for all fiction writers who want to add relevance to their words without, say, delving into the roles of rank and position in 19th century Victorian England.
Specifically Darkest Evening tells the tale of Amy Redwing, founder of a retriever rescue who picks up a dog named Nickie in a page-turning opening confrontation that pits her against an abusive head-of-household and prompts her to take his wife and kids under her wing.
Amy eventually runs afoul of a crazed arsonist named Moonglow and her boyfriend and other finely-crafted Koontz villains as well.
All in all it's a fine audiobook and no doubt a great read.
The book on tape is performed by an able reader named Kristen Kairos, but she occasionally offers some of the most creative pronunciations I've heard since Lindsay Crouse's vocalization of Ponchatrain (Pon-CHA-train) in the audio version of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour.