It has been nearly a year since I’ve picked up The City – Dean Koontz Book and I wanted to read something on my flight. I found The Eyes of Darkness in my e-library and decided to give it a go.
Here was a surprising book about love, about a divorce, about a child that was burried but not dead and a secret agency with a dark secret.
This is a story about a mom in search of her son (which reminded me of Stranger Things for some reason).
This is a story about Las Vegas and the show life – and a few funny exchanges which are so lacking in the later Dean Koontz books.
Here’s one piece of dialogue I found most endearing:
“I guess you’ll be going to a New Year’s Eve party.”
“I hate New Year’s Eve parties. Everyone’s drunk and boring.”
“Well, then . . . in between all that popping in and out of Magyck!, do you think you’d have time for dinner?”
“Are you asking me for a date?”
“I’ll try not to slurp my soup.”
“You are asking me for a date,” she said, pleased.
“Yes. And it’s been a long time since I’ve been this awkward about it.”
“Why is that?”
“You, I guess.”
“I make you feel awkward?”
“You make me feel young. And when I was young, I was very awkward.”
“I’m trying to charm you.”
“And succeeding,” she said.
He had such a warm smile. “Suddenly I don’t feel so awkward anymore.”
She said, “You want to start over?”
“Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?”
“Sure. How about seven-thirty?”
“Fine. You prefer dressy or casual?”
He fingered his starched collar and the satin lapel of his tuxedo jacket. “I’m so glad you said that.”
Tina Evans has spent a year suffering from incredible heartache since her son Danny’s tragic death. But now, with her Vegas show about to premiere, Tina can think of no better time for a fresh start. Maybe she can finally move on and put her grief behind her.
Only there is a message for Tina, scrawled on the chalkboard in Danny’s room: NOT DEAD. Two words that send her on a terrifying journey from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the cold shadows of the High Sierras, where she uncovers a terrible secret.
When she first saw the message in the room she immediately suspected her cheating ex-husband, Michael, looking for revenge. She calls him but when he doesn’t respond, she goes on a hunt to get him to confess his morbid torture of her wits. The discussion with him proves he’s innocent but also uncovers a quite funny list of Las Vegas Diseases.
The List of Las Vegas Diseases
Las Vegas Blackout
“It’s stupid is what it is,” Michael said, still amused. “The guy sits down to play cards and gets so involved he loses track of time, which is, of course, exactly what the management wants him to do. That’s why there aren’t any windows or clocks in the casino. But once in a while, a guy really loses track, doesn’t get up for hours and hours, just keeps on playing like a zombie. Meanwhile, he’s drinking too much. When he does finally stand up, he moves too fast. The blood drains from his head—bang!—and he faints dead away. Blackjack blackout.”
The Bingo Bladder
“Sometimes a player gets so interested in the game that he’s virtually hypnotized by it. He’s been drinking pretty regularly, but he’s so deep in a trance that he can completely ignore the call of nature until—bingo!—he has a bladder spasm. If it’s really a bad one, he finds out his pipes have blocked up. He can’t relieve himself, and he has to be taken to the hospital and catheterized.
The Jackpot Attack
There’s what we call ‘jackpot attack,’” Michael said. “For years people go home from Vegas and tell all their friends that they came out ahead of the game. Lying their heads off. Everyone pretends to be a winner. And when all of a sudden someone does hit it big, especially on a slot machine where it can happen in a flash, they’re so surprised they pass out. Heart attacks are more frequent around the slot machines than anywhere else in the casino, and a lot of the victims are people who’ve just lined up three bars and won a bundle.
The Las Vegas Syndrome
Then there’s ‘Vegas syndrome.’ Someone gets so carried away with gambling and running from show to show that he forgets to eat for a whole day or longer. He or she—it happens to women nearly as often as men. Anyway, when he finally gets hungry and realizes he hasn’t eaten, he gulps down a huge meal, and the blood rushes from his head to his stomach, and he passes out in the middle of the restaurant. It’s not usually dangerous, except if he has a mouthful of food when he faints, because then he might choke to death.
The time-warp syndrome
People come here from a lot of dull places, and Vegas is like an adult Disneyland. There’s so much going on, so much to see and do, constant excitement, so people get out of their normal rhythms. They go to bed at dawn, get up in the afternoon, and they lose track of what day it is. When the excitement wears off a little, they go to check out of the hotel, and they discover their three-day weekend somehow turned into five days. They can’t believe it. They think they’re being overcharged, and they argue with the desk clerks. When someone shows them a calendar and a daily newspaper, they’re really shocked. They’ve been through a time warp and lost a couple of days. Isn’t that weird?
Very weird indeed. Thank you Dean Koontz for making the book a lot more enjoyable.
The great put-down for all males who think a woman can’t have a satisfying career
As the discussion progresses with Michael, he shows off his true intentions: he thought he could get her back and try again for another shot – her plea to help her find the culprit behind the “not dead” message being just a ploy to get him back. His misogynistic remarks that a former show girl could not seriously consider being and remaining a massive Las Vegas producer were suddenly cut off when Tina explodes. I absolutely loved how she put him down to his knees.
“There’s more to life than just having a flashy career,” Michael said pontifically. “Home life counts for something. Home and family. That has to be a part of life too. Maybe it’s the most important part.” He nodded sanctimoniously. “Family. These last few days, as your show’s been getting ready to open, I’ve had the feeling you might finally realize you need something more in life, something a lot more emotionally satisfying than whatever it is you can get out of just producing stage shows.”
“Sure,” he said. “I know that, baby. And I’m happy for you. I’m happy for you and me. Now that you’ve proved whatever you needed to prove, you can relax. No, no. Of course not. It’s good for you to have something to dabble in. I see that now. I get the message. But with Magyck! running successfully, you won’t have all that much to do. It won’t be like before.”
She glared at him. “Yes, you’re right, I do want a home life, a satisfying family life. You’re right about that. But you’re wrong about everything else. I don’t want to be a producer merely because I need a sideline to dabble in. Dabble! Michael, that’s stupid. No one gets a show like Magyck! off the ground by dabbling. I can’t believe you said that! It wasn’t a fling. It was a mentally and physically debilitating experience—it was hard—and I loved every minute of it! God willing, I’m going to do it again. And again and again. I’m going to produce shows that’ll make Magyck! look amateurish by comparison. Someday I may also be a mother again. And I’ll be a damn good mother too. A good mother and a good producer. I have the intelligence and the talent to be more than just one thing. And I certainly can be more than just your trinket and your housekeeper.”
“Now, wait a minute,” he said, beginning to get angry. “Wait just a damn minute. You don’t—”
She interrupted him. For years she had been filled with hurt and bitterness. She had never vented any of her black anger because, initially, she’d wanted to hide it from Danny; she hadn’t wanted to turn him against his father. Later, after Danny was dead, she’d repressed her feelings because she’d known that Michael had been truly suffering from the loss of his child, and she hadn’t wanted to add to his misery. But now she vented some of the acid that had been eating at her for so long, cutting him off in midsentence.
“You were wrong to think I’d come crawling back. Why on earth would I? What do you have to give me that I can’t get elsewhere? You’ve never been much of a giver anyway, Michael. You only give when you’re sure of getting back twice as much. You’re basically a taker. And before you give me any more of that treacly talk about your great love of family, let me remind you that it wasn’t me who tore our family apart. It wasn’t me who jumped from bed to bed.”
“You were the one who started f**king anything that breathed, and then you flaunted each cheap little affair to hurt me. It was you who didn’t come home at night. It was you who went away for weekends with your girlfriends. And those bed-hopping weekends broke my heart, Michael, broke my heart—which is what you hoped to do, so that was all right with you. But did you ever stop to realize what effect your absences had on Danny? If you loved family life so much, why didn’t you spend all those weekends with your son?”
His face was flushed, and there was a familiar meanness in his eyes. “So I’m not a giver, huh? Then who gave you the house you’re living in? Huh? Who was it had to move into an apartment when we separated, and who was it kept the house?”
He was trying desperately to deflect her and change the course of the argument. She could see what he was up to, and she was not going to be distracted from her main intention.
She said, “Don’t be pathetic, Michael. You know damn well the down payment for the house came out of my earnings. You always spent your money on fast cars, good clothes. I paid every loan installment. You know that. And I never asked for alimony. Anyway, all of that’s beside the point. We were talking about family life, about Danny.”
“Now, you listen to me—”
“No. It’s your turn to listen. After all these years it’s finally your turn to listen. If you know how. You could have taken Danny away for the weekend if you didn’t want to be near me. You could have gone camping with him. You could have taken him down to Disneyland for a couple days. Or to the Colorado River to do some fishing. But you were too busy using all those women to hurt me and to prove to yourself what a stud you were. You could have enjoyed that time with your son. He missed you. You could have had that precious time with him. But you didn’t want it. And as it turned out, Danny didn’t have much time left.”
Woop woop! You go girl! Tell him who’s the one with the pants in the house! As it turns out, the moment she demands an exhumation of the body, Michael’s days are counted and he is silently killed in a lobby by a secret agent. Tina and her new beau, Elliott, an ex-special ops lawyer, find themselves on the run from the secret agency in a race against time.
As they start having more and more occurrences involving plummeting temperatures and objects moving, Tina suggests that maybe, just maybe, her boy isn’t dead and even though Elliott warns her that it’s a dangerous belief to harbor, she insists that it’s her boy pointing the way towards where he’s held against his will.
As they start heading towards the secret facility in the mountains, Danny – in his closed, sealed and sterilized room – is showing signs of brain activity. The scientists notice that the air conditioning seems to be acting up whenever there is a spike in his brainwaves and think it’s a technical glitch. They don’t put two and two together and that is probably why this book still has a boy to salvage by the end of it!
What the scientists have been doing, they’ve been experimenting with biological warfare and they copied a strand of a very potent virus from the Russians and the Chinese. The virus got accidentally released when a scientist got infected and did not follow protocol and the entirety of Danny’s school trip bus got infected. Danny was the only one who survived and was kept under observation to find out how his body fought the virus.
Once they found the source – they continued to re-infect Danny and let him heal to study how many goes it will take to kill the boy. Once the boy was re-infected, he would grow weaker, he would not be able to eat and was slightly more than skin and bones by the time his mother goes to him.
One side effect of his virus healing was a new set of brain tissue which was probably responsible for the telekinesis and telepathic occurrences that Tina was seeing.
The rescue scene is smooth and with only one helicopter crash which was pretty fun! Give it a read and let me know if the ending was worth it or not. I think it was!
Why I liked the book
It’s got everything a Dean Koontz book has: a good chemistry between a male and a female protagonist, an action chase, a secret government facility and some experiments that go wrong.
While it’s a good and entertaining read, it’s quite short (300 pages) and 90% of the book is like 90% of all of Dean Koontz’s stuff. The only new parts were the Las Vegas scene. Everything else you can find in other books of his.