Most educated people were convinced that, without exception, the motivations behind the antisocial acts of violent people had their roots in poverty, broken homes, childhood traumas, parental neglect or parental ineptitude.

Mary Bergen aids the police in solving crimes, those that have happened and those that are about to. Now this gifted clairvoyant is using her psychic gift to help track a serial killer. But something terrible from Mary’s past has been invading her dreams and she is haunted by the sound of leathery wings. The killer knows secrets even she has locked away. Knows about the torture she was administered at the hands of a psycho when she was a little girl. And he is coming for her next.

The book was published in 1977 and while I can say it aged pretty well, there are still references in it for things that no longer exist today, like the famous F.W.Woolworth’s Five-and-Dime Stores which closed their doors in 1997. Also, the book would have been significantly shorter if written today as the large amount of digitized articles and the whole computerised police force would have made it easier to track the killer down.

All in all, a great read for a cosy night in.

The story

Mary was horribly (and I mean horribly) assaulted when she was just 6 years old by an older man – the groundkeeper to her family’s estate. He was arrested and later committed suicide while in prison and his wife and child were killed in a house fire shortly after. She had developed her strange powers just around then and she can have “Visions” of things happening either close or far away from her. 

Mary managed to repress all her previous memories and the only thing she can remember is the fluttering of wings – organic wings, like bat wings.

An awesome force pressed against her from all sides. She felt as if she was enfolded by leathery wings, muscular wings that were draining the heat from her, squeezing the life out of her.

When her latest case brings her and her husband in close proximity with a new killer, she starts having strong visions involving the women that are being murdered and she thinks she knows them. She thinks it’s the ghost of the groundskeeper who is now haunting her and she feels the close hand of destiny closing around her throat.

The dead, Mary thought, don’t stay dead. Not forever. Not even for long. They rise up from their graves. The ground doesn’t hold them. Remorse doesn’t hold them. Neither grief nor acceptance, neither fear nor forgetfulness holds them. Nothing holds them

She goes to see a psychologist to see if they can unlock her past memory and as the thoughts creep closer, all the miniature glass objects in the room fly about and break on the floor. It’s the first time she’d experienced Telekinesis.

Telekinesis is the ability to move objects or to cause changes within objects solely by the force of the mind

Telekinesis is often mistaken for the work of poltergeists, which are playful and occasionally malevolent spirits. The existence of poltergeists as astral beings is debatable and certainly unproven. It should be noted that in most houses where poltergeists have appeared, there resides an adolescent with serious identity problems, or some other person under severe nervous strain

We’re made to believe (for about the entirety of the book) that the killer is actually her loving husband, Max.

Don’t ever leave me. Stay with me as long as I live.” “As long as you live,” Max promised.

Lightning ripped open the sky again: the reflection of light from its blade shone through the windows; and for an instant it turned Max’s eyes into icy blanks.

The twist that came at the end of the book was that the killer was actually someone Mary knew and trusted, but not the husband. It was her brother, Alan, who was also responsible for the abuse she suffered when she was young and who convinced her under threat to lie about who the abuser was. Alan thinks he’s a vampire, a demon. He performs sacrilegious acts with every murder and feels a thrill knowing that his psychic sister can see the deeds but never the doer as her subconscious is blocking the true face of the attacker.

When she is finally face to face with Alan, she uses her psychic powers to make the bats in the tower attack and maul him and she walks away happy to be rid of him once and for all.

It’s a great story of a woman who starts standing up for herself, facing her inner demons and taking a hold of her life again.

It’s past time I stopped hiding behind strong men. I’ve got to take chances. When I risk something and fail, I’ve got to suffer the consequences like anybody else. If I’m always pampered, cuddled, and cushioned from shock, then my successes in life are meaningless.

The book was a solid thriller but it did have some down parts.

Every move you make, every breath you take, he’ll be watching you

Good bits:

  • The story is creepy
  • there is a genuine thread making the husband look like the guilty part
  • Fair discussion about how mediums are normally treated as hoaxes and looked upon with skepticism
  • The Afterword from the author of him looking for a house to rent was hilarious
  • Fast Paced with an interesting premise

Bad Bits:

  • This was one of Dean Koontz’s first books published and he’s not at his greatest skill (yet)
  • The sexual assault was gruesome, even by horror standards.
  • Mary seems to rely on her husband a lot making her look weak:  She must have gone pale, for he said, “Calm down. It’s over.” He looked good. Marvelous. So big and reliable. She did calm down somewhat, merely because he told her she should.
  • NO woman, actually, I don’t think any PERSON wants to be told to calm down. It never makes anyone calm down. That did not sit well with me and I was hoping that she would argue about his statement, but she never does, which is disappointing. She does take care of herself in the end when she has to, but I was hoping for a bit more of a stronger character.
  • “I wrote The Vision while living in Las Vegas, when I was young and stupid.” – Dean Koontz, Afterword

2/5