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A shadowy tale

The book's basic plot is in the form of its central character — a golden retriever named Nickie, who is rescued by Amy from an abusive home, writes Girija Duggal.

books Updated: May 21, 2012 15:13 IST
Girija Duggal
Girija Duggal
Hindustan Times
A shadowy tale

Title: The Darkest Evening of the Year
By Dean Koontz
Publisher: Harper
Price: Rs 195

If a light, entertaining book is what you are looking for (the kind that renders a short airplane ride comfortable), The Darkest Evening of the Year would be a decent enough choice. At the very basic level, the plot is about the eternal interplay of good versus evil — a kind-hearted woman named Amy Redwig, who runs a dog rescue charity aided by her boyfriend, architect Brian McCarthy, both of whom must face terrifying, villainous characters from their past looking to draw blood.

Where the book differs is in the form of its central character — a golden retriever named Nickie, who is rescued by Amy from an abusive home. The dog arrives into Amy’s life with a rather uncanny sense of déjà vu. But with her coming begins a sequence of bizarre, terrifying events, all of which are connected, in one way or another, to Nickie.

The storyline begins on a lethargic note; it is only once Amy and Brian have rescued Nickie that the pace slowly starts to pick up. Brian’s maniacal ex-wife sends him cryptic, convoluted messages meant to make him feel guilty about leaving their young daughter. Brian also begins noticing that someone seems to be keeping track of Amy’s every move. But it is only when events approach the climax that Amy reveals her haunting past to her boyfriend, something that clarifies for the reader every unexplained, and unexplainable, occurrences up till then.

In the fight of good versus evil, the golden retriever plays the role of saviour. Yet, at the end, the reader is left confused with the ‘resolution’.

Koontz fails to capitalise on the full potential of what could have been a gripping thriller; one gets a feeling he has tried too hard to weave together the strands of the plot.