Frankenstein: City of Night – Dean Koontz

The mad genius had not imagined that his creations would develop minds – and purposes – of their own. And as Deucalion and Detectives O’Connor and Maddison race to uncover an age-old conspiracy, they will discover that Victor’s new, improved models have infiltrated every level of New Orleans society … and far beyond.

They are stronger, heal better, and think faster than any humans ever created–and they must be destroyed. But not even Victor Helios–once Frankenstein–can stop the engineered killers he’s set loose on a reign of terror through modern-day New Orleans.

Now the only hope rests in a one-time “monster” and his all-too-human partners, Detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as Victor’s first and failed attempt to build the perfect human–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first Deucalion must destroy a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have imagined–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with one purpose: to replace us.

Koontz does not often write series of novels. Odd Thomas is his only exception, tho he has written at least one other character that has recurred (Christopher Snow) after about 100 books. But with Frankenstein two, City of the Dead, you sense he’s conceived all these books (fifth one written and due out soon as I write) in the bathtub together. Because, the man is still flying high with the storyline and prose from the first novel and my feeling is, he just had to decide where to bring the guillotine down on where to divide them.

OK, time to be brutal, good as this is, with continuity and tone all preserved beautifully, it is not as good as the first book. That may be the fate of “episodic” writing, this definitely feels like series two of the TV series, with some characters returning (some didn’t live to make it this far from book one) and a few new ones who also have to battle to make book three – and boy, does Koontz set that up well. But its a slower burn than book one, though the simmer is first class.

Real progression here, and you do warm to all the key characters, and I like Koontz’s intelligence re-imagining and updating of the Frankenstein story. As fiction goes, its a clever and adroit adapting of the story into modern settings and times, with the relevant scientific context and yet the same disturbing questions being asked in a fresh way. The only weakness, narritively, is that don’t know Victor himself as well as I feel we should. That, however, is not the sort of oversight a novelist as accomplished as Dean Koontz will overlook for long. No doubt books three and four will have corrected it.

Highly recommended, but definitely read them in sequence or you’ll ruin all the surprises!

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