December 10, 2007 12:00 PM

THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR

by Dean Koontz |

CRITIC’S CHOICE

REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

NOVEL

Inspired, presumably, by his own golden retriever Trixie, thrillmeister Koontz has taken a gamble: working an almost-spiritual love for dogs into a story that’s nearly as sadistic and frightening as anything he’s written. Amazingly, it works. At the novel’s center are ardent dog rescuer Amy Redwing and architect Brian McCarthy. The pair have been dating for months, but each remains reluctant to open up completely until the night they save Nickie, a beautiful retriever, from her abusive home in Southern California. Softened by the dog’s boundless affection and trust, the lovers dare to confess their respective secrets—at the very moment when two Bay Area sociopaths, both of whom have old scores to settle, are plotting their brutal destruction. Suddenly, professional rescuer Amy finds herself in dire need of salvation.

A kind of Silence of the Lambs meets Marley & Me, Koontz’s latest should win him new readers with its insights into the power and mystery of the human-animal bond. But longtime fans of the author’s disturbing imagination—and his gift for edge-of-your-seat storytelling—won’t be disappointed.

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