Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, Book 1), by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson


What if Victor Frankenstein and his legendary monster were not just the nightmares of yesteryear?  What if they roamed the streets of modern day New Orleans?  Bodies are turning up all over the Big Easy . . . each with a different body part missing.  Police detective Carson O'Connor and her partner Michael Maddison think they're on the trail of a normal--if brutal--serial killer, but their investigation reveals horrors they never imagined, as they encounter Frankenstein's original (though reformed) monster and discover a race of more-and-less-than human killers poised to wreak havoc on humanity.

This is not Koontz's best work.  The plot is somewhat convoluted, with no fewer than 4 nefarious killers working independently of one another and with different motivations (not counting the not-so-nefarious Original Recipe Frankenstein's Monster).  Some of that is to be expected, as Koontz is laying the groundwork for what would eventually be a five-volume series, and has to come up with sufficient villainy to sustain the series.  The end result, in this volume anyway, is choppy and disconnected.  We bounce back and forth among perspectives and situations in a manner more annoying than interesting.

Which is unfortunate, because each villain is pretty darn compelling in his own right.  Any one of them would have been an admirable nemesis.  As it was, there were so darn many bad guys that they all sort of blurred together.  The other characters are also well-drawn--Carson and Maddison are likable and entertaining;  Frankenstein's not-so-monstrous monster is fascinating; Dr. Frankenstein's latest wife is sympathetic; and even the various victims (at least, the ones we meet) seem like actual people, not just cardboard cutouts.

Bottom line:  A mediocre execution of an intriguing concept. The capable narration in the audiobook version (kudos to Scott Brick) improves the story a bit.  Just not enough.

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