In the late summer of a long-ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy.
Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, re-creating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family—his wife and three children—will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer.
As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return.
Here is a ghost story like no other you have read. In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. Of all his acclaimed novels, none exceeds What the Night Knows in power, in chilling suspense, and in sheer mesmerizing storytelling.
“Dean Koontz...has the power to scare the daylights out of us.” —People
“Koontz seems to know us, our deepest foibles and fears.” —USA Today
“Koontz writes first-rate suspense, scary and stylish.” —Los Angeles Times
“A master at spinning dark tales...Koontz knows how to dial up the terror.” —Associated Press
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About the Author
The books of Dean Koontz are published in 38 languages, and worldwide sales top 400 million copies. Eleven of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, and several have been adapted into feature films and TV miniseries. Dean and Gerda Koontz live in southern California with their golden retriever, Anna, grand-niece of the famous and beloved Trixie.
Hometown:Newport Beach, California
Date of Birth:July 9, 1945
Place of Birth:Everett, Pennsylvania
Education:B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
Read an Excerpt
What year these events transpired is of no consequence. Where they occurred is not important. The time is always, and the place is everywhere.
Suddenly at noon, six days after the murders, birds flew to trees and sheltered roosts. As if their wings had lanced the sky, the rain fell close behind their flight. The long afternoon was as dim and drowned as twilight in Atlantis.
The state hospital stood on a hill, silhouetted against a gray and sodden sky. The September light appeared to strop a razor’s edge along each skein of rain.
A procession of eighty-foot purple beeches separated the inbound and the outbound lanes of the approach road. Their limbs overhung the car and collected the rain to redistribute it in thick drizzles that rapped against the windshield.
The thump of the wipers matched the slow, heavy rhythm of John Calvino’s heart. He did not play the radio. The only sounds were the engine, the windshield wipers, the rain, the swish of tires turning on wet pavement, and a memory of the screams of dying women.
Near the main entrance, he parked illegally under the portico. He propped the police placard on the dashboard.
John was a homicide detective, but this car belonged to him, not to the department. The use of the placard while off duty might be a minor violation of the rules. But his conscience was encrusted with worse transgressions than the abuse of police prerogatives.
At the reception desk in the lobby sat a lean woman with close-cropped black hair. She smelled of the lunchtime cigarettes that had curbed her appetite. Her mouth was as severe as that of an iguana.
After glancing at John’s police ID and listening to his request, she used the intercom to call an escort for him. Pen pinched in her thin fingers, white knuckles as sharp as chiseled marble, she printed his name and badge number in the visitors’ register.
Hoping for gossip, she wanted to talk about Billy Lucas.
Instead, John went to the nearest window. He stared at the rain without seeing it.
A few minutes later, a massive orderly named Coleman Hanes escorted him to the third—top—floor. Hanes so filled the elevator that he seemed like a bull in a narrow stall, waiting for the door to the rodeo ring to be opened. His mahogany skin had a faint sheen, and by contrast his white uniform was radiant.
They talked about the unseasonable weather: the rain, the almost wintry cold two weeks before summer officially ended. They discussed neither murder nor insanity.
John did most of the talking. The orderly was self-possessed to the point of being phlegmatic.
The elevator opened to a vestibule. A pink-faced guard sat at a desk, reading a magazine.
“Are you armed?” he asked.
“My service pistol.”
“You’ll have to give it to me.”
John removed the weapon from his shoulder rig, surrendered it.
On the desk stood a Crestron touch-screen panel. When the guard pressed an icon, the electronic lock released the door to his left.
Coleman Hanes led the way into what appeared to be an ordinary hospital corridor: gray-vinyl tile underfoot, pale-blue walls, white ceiling with fluorescent panels.
“Will he eventually be moved to an open floor or will he be kept under this security permanently?” John asked.
“I’d keep him here forever. But it’s up to the doctors.”
Hanes wore a utility belt in the pouches of which were a small can of Mace, a Taser, plastic-strap handcuffs, and a walkie-talkie.
All the doors were closed. Each featured a lock-release keypad and a porthole.
Seeing John’s interest, Hanes said, “Double-paned. The inner pane is shatterproof. The outer is a two-way mirror. But you’ll be seeing Billy in the consultation room.”
This proved to be a twenty-foot-square chamber divided by a two-foot-high partition. From the top of this low wall to the ceiling were panels of thick armored glass in steel frames.
In each panel, near the sill and just above head height, two rectangular steel grilles allowed sound to pass clearly from one side of the glass to the other.
The nearer portion of the room was the smaller: twenty feet long, perhaps eight feet wide. Two armchairs were angled toward the glass, a small table between them.
The farther portion of the room contained one armchair and a long couch, allowing the patient either to sit or to lie down.
On this side of the glass, the chairs had wooden legs. The back and seat cushions were button-tufted.
Beyond the glass, the furniture featured padded, upholstered legs. The cushions were smooth-sewn, without buttons or upholstery tacks.
Ceiling-mounted cameras on the visitor’s side covered the entire room. From the guard’s station, Coleman Hanes could watch but not listen.
Before leaving, the orderly indicated an intercom panel in the wall beside the door. “Call me when you’re finished.”
Alone, John stood beside an armchair, waiting.
The glass must have had a nonreflective coating. He could see only the faintest ghost of himself haunting that polished surface.
In the far wall, on the patient’s side of the room, two barred windows provided a view of slashing rain and dark clouds curdled like malignant flesh.
On the left, a door opened, and Billy Lucas entered the patient’s side of the room. He wore slippers, gray cotton pants with an elastic waistband, and a long-sleeved gray T-shirt.
His face, as smooth as cream in a saucer, seemed to be as open and guileless as it was handsome. With pale skin and thick black hair, dressed all in gray, he resembled an Edward Steichen glamour portrait from the 1920s or ’30s.
The only color he offered, the only color on his side of the glass, was the brilliant, limpid, burning blue of his eyes.
Neither agitated nor lethargic from drugs, Billy crossed the room unhurriedly, with straight-shouldered confidence and an almost eerie grace. He looked at John, only at John, from the moment he entered the room until he stood before him, on the farther side of the glass partition.
“You’re not a psychiatrist,” Billy said. His voice was clear, measured, and mellifluous. He had sung in his church choir. “You’re a detective, aren’t you?”
“I confessed days ago.”
“Yes, I know.”
“The evidence proves I did it.”
“Yes, it does.”
“Then what do you want?”
Less than a full smile, a suggestion of amusement shaped the boy’s expression. He was fourteen, the unrepentant murderer of his family, capable of unspeakable cruelty, yet the half-smile made him look neither smug nor evil, but instead wistful and appealing, as though he were recalling a trip to an amusement park or a fine day at the shore.
“Understand?” Billy said. “You mean—what was my motive?”
“You haven’t said why.”
“The why is easy.”
The boy said, “Ruin.”
by Dean Koontz
I replied that if demonic possession occurred, it must be a rare thing, not as common as the cold. Schizophrenia is a condition that frequently can be controlled with medication, and I doubt very much that Beelzebub, having taken residence in some hapless host, could be driven out merely with a prescription medication or even by the consumption of a steaming bowl of chicken soup. Besides, this novel has much to do with ghosts and darker entities, but nothing whatsoever to do with schizophrenia, which made his question even more puzzling.
Judging by his following questions, I suspected that the interviewer must be a fully modern man who felt himself to be free of all superstition, a rational materialist--and yet had been disturbed by this story of a haunting and possession. I think he hoped I would say something absurd, not so that he could twist my words and make me look completely foolish in his piece (I am quite capable of making an humongous fool of myself without anyone's assistance), but because if I proved to be ditzy, he might be able to dismiss more easily the story that had frightened him in spite of his determined rationalism.
What is it about stories involving malevolent spirits that can frighten us in spite of the wall of reason we erect against them? In spite of all the advancements of science and all our knowledge, we can't escape the feeling that the world is a mysterious place, that what we perceive is only part of what is. And we suspect, in spite of our civilized nature and skepticism, that at least part of what lies beyond that veil of mystery is hostile and terrifying.
We seem to have a genetic need to believe in the malicious unseen. Those who dismiss ghosts and malevolent spirits as child's stuff often believe in the all-powerful and evil nature of secret societies like Skull & Bones and the Bildersburger Group. Countless people believe that superintelligent extraterrestrials are here on Earth, have been here a long time, and have sinister intentions--though these aliens are as invisible as ghosts and demons.
Over the years, I have been happily creeped out by hundreds of books and movies, many of them dealing with ghosts and other malevolent spirits. I also love to be spooked by tales of secret societies, extraterrestrials, vampires, zombies, and inexplicably enormous insects. Some of those books and movies have inspired me to write stories of my own that make the skin crawl. WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS was inspired not by any story that I've ever read, but by something incredible that I experienced in 2009, something I'm not yet prepared to discuss in a public forum. That incident led to several sleepless nights and ultimately to the desire to write a novel about what lurks but can't be seen, about what cannot be but is, about what the night knows.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The thing I like about Dean Koontz is that he refuses to be pigeon-holed into one type of storytelling. Only a handful of his books (at least in the past couple of decades) have been supernatural in nature, the others have dealt with good and evil from the hands of man. (ie. a mad scientist creating mad creatures). But he also writes some damn fine fiction that simply deals with human nature, like any "normal" writer would. The first book I read by Mr. Koontz was Phantoms back in 1993, I remember reading that on a graveyard shift at work, inside this big building with just one other person on staff. I was thoroughly scared to the point of having to stop reading it, take a break, relax and come back to it. And now it seems things have come full circle. "What The Night Knows" has returned to Koontz's supernatural, pure evil subject matter and has once again scared the hell out of me. It's the kind of Koontz book people expect of the author, even though he doesn't want to be known primarily as a horror writer. But it also has the trademark Koontz relationships (whether family or lovers), inner turmoil, human nature, insights on society and of course the author's way of describing everything in minute detail. I've read most of Dean Koontz books (all of his books from the last 20 years) and I've never read one that prompted me to ask for a refund. Some better than others, but this one probably belongs in the top 10. It's leave-your-nightlight-on, look-over-your-shoulder, jump-at-the-slightest-noise scary!!!!
I loved this book. I have been an avid Koontz reader for years because he always seems ot capture the mystery and the characters in a way that is unique for most mysteries. Lately I was disappointed that perhaps he was becoming predictable, but this novel had a beauty to it. Loved It!!
I've read everything, honestly, that Dean Koontz has written since '77. I've been crazy for his books since first reading "Lightning" when I was 12 years old. This book felt more like one of his older books from the 80's or 90's. That's a good thing, for me. This was layers of suspense on layers of suspense, without some of the "preachiness" that some people have accused him of the last handful of years and books. One of the great things about all of his books is that he hasn't been limited to one theme or style. He's always explored multiple themes in his books. With this one though he didn't get "sidetracked" with those themes. I felt like on this one he let the story take care of itself. And this story was more than capable of keeping my attention from the first page to the last. This was one of the strongest villains he has ever written about and one of his most sympathetic heroes. This book was good versus evil from start to finish. I won't give any specifics about the story away. All I can say is that if you've enjoyed his books then you should enjoy this one also. If you've felt that he's gotten away from some of his more solid writing then maybe this book will help bring you back around a little bit. It was just that much fun for me to get through. I completely forgot the time while I was reading this one.
Providing no explanation afterward as to why he committed the atrocity, fourteen year old Billy Lucas simply butchered his family. Homicide detective John Calvino knows Billy's case hits too close to home. Two decades ago serial killer Alton Turner Blackwood slaughtered John's family and three other families; only John survived by shooting the maniac who was in the midst of a deranged ritual. John has always feared that Blackwood was possessed by a malevolent spirit who the cop believes has not finished the job. His fear is not so much for himself, but for his wife and their three children. John visits the teen at a psychiatric ward, but as soon as he leaves his family members especially his preadolescent kids begin to feel haunted. John knows time is running out for him to prevent history from repeating itself; perhaps his only reliable ally though he has doubts of the existence and the loyalty is Willard; his family's deceased dog. This is an exciting horror thriller that grips the reader with the same high level of suspense that Dean Koontz always achieves. The behavior of the four Calvino family members in some ways reflect the inane behavior of a teen-slasher movie, as each conceals what is happening to them from each other. With a nod to the OK Corral, fans will enjoy the supernatural battle between Calvino and the evil essences from beyond even as Mr. Koontz sets up a potential sequel. Harriet Klausner
WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS is a graphic nail-biter that won't let you put it down. John Calvino is a police detective with a secret. Twenty years before, a seriously deranged serial killer, Alton Turner Blackwood, murdered John's family as well as three other families in town, and used their corpses in a gruesome ritual. John was a 14-year old boy at the time, the lone survivor of the fourth family, and managed to kill Blackwood. Now a husband and father of three children, he has reason to believe the man he killed twenty years ago has returned from the dead to fulfill a promise of rape and murder. The answer to why this is happening is the answer to how to stop it and the whole hair-raising story is finding this answer. If you love a good ghost story, you can't go wrong with this one!
This book alternates from tedious prose to disturbing and graphic violence. Also, the author’s blatant proselytization of his ideological and religious beliefs became tiring very quickly. No more Dean Koontz for me.
I have read many novels by Dean Koontz and think his best work was in his early years. I loved the ODD THOMAS books but after the fourth or fifth one they became stale and predictable to me. I quit Koontz for five years or so and decided to give WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS a shot several days ago. The character development was good. The story creepy enough. The problem with this novel was the WORDINESS throughout. There is so much extra description of everything, one would think Koontz is just trying to fill up space. There were entire pages I would read, reread, read again, and still not be able to make sense of what was written. It was like, WHAT THE HECK? This story had good potential but was ruined by nonsense. There's better authors to spend your money on. ~ DO ~
Started good 3/4 of the way through it just got dumb and hard to read u all ready new the ending dont waste your time with this one unless u cant sleep becuese it will pput u their
First, the positives: it had all the makings of a suspenseful crime novel with supernatural elements. The plot was really engaging in parts, and I appreciated the originality of the story and its overall effect. The negatives: some of the characters were very manufactured. I didn't buy them at all as a "real" family, and their quippy dialogue and stereotypical roles (especially the kids) came across to me as really artificial and it got sort of annoying. The most critical characters were better developed, though, so it wasn't a total wash on that front. Also, I thought the ending of this book could have been better and I was a little disappointed with it. With that said, I'd say the good of this book outshines the bad, and it's worth a read!
This reminds me of some of his older books like Intensity. This was a heart pounding thrill ride. A cross between the TV shows Fringe and Criminal Minds.
I have to admit my faith in one of my favorite authors has been shaken of late. I was disappointed in Lost Souls and his most recent work has been less then great. However in What the Knight Knows Koontz has made me a believer again with an original story, a villain you love to hate, and whose protagonist characters have depth and are incredibly refreshing. You find yourselves fearful for the characters and highly invested. It is a can't put it down read. Sit back and enjoy!
Like others, I pre-ordered this book for $16 in November thinking if I pre-ordered, i was getting a better deal than waiting for the release...the day after the release, Barnes and Noble decides to sell it for $9.99...is that fair? I don't think so....the book is all hype. I have to admit, I loved the novella, the short, but entertaining prequel to this book...but, the this book is so full of description and no substance. I would rather move on to see what is going to happen next rather than know what kind of material the couches in the mental institution are made out of....VERY WORDY. good story, but so wordy...it could have been half the size of the book, half the price, and AS entertaining....I typically love Koontz, this was a disappointment!
This story had a great plot and I loved the characters. The action started happening right away. Definitley got me creeped out by ghosts. I would recommend this book!
I loved What The Night Knows. The thrill of this novel is that Koontz both 1) gives you contradicting characters' perspectives (requiring you th reader to discern what is truely happening), and 2) invites you to imagine yourself standing with the characters as the action is going on. Masterfully writtrn thrilling story. Highly recommend.
I enjoyed this book.. it was freaky scary.... i reccomend this book to ppl who love horror stories and who love getting gosebumps from reading them... X- D
If your into horror stories! Read this novel! It's the best thriller book I've ever read! His writting is a page turner, and the book gets you hooked! The chapters are a little long, but the story from a detectives perspective is fasinating! I told all my friends and family of this author, I adore his novels! If your a new reader to this author, I recommend this novel for a first read! Great cover art, and a great read!
Good book, fun and scary, but he lost the handle at the finish line.
I found that I was reading this book just to get through it. The story begins very slowly, embroiled with just too much introspection within a large number of characters. At one point, almost as an afterthought, the reader is astounded to find that one of the young girls is a "ghost-whisperer" - seems to be a pretty important, but grossly unexplored character trait. Odd! The story-line could have been a winner. Eventually, the book does pick up and becomes somewhat engaging, but I was relieved to see it end and more than ready to move on.
In typical Dean Koontz style, this book brings together humor and terror, along with love for family and the human condition. The main character, John, after having seen his family brutally murdered at a young age, grows to be an exceptional man, fighting the impossible. After reading this book I was afraid to be home alone at night for weeks!
I'm a long-time fan of Dean Koontz but the last few books I've read have disappointed me. In this one, he has once again found the combination of qualities that I've valued in his writing.Detective John Calvino is a haunted man--haunted by memories of his past and the tragic loss of parents and sisters, haunted by his own sense of responsibility for their death as well as his need to protect his wife and children and, with mounting horror, haunted by a very real manifestation of evil. Few writers can evoke pure, despicable evil with Koontz' unerring clarity and even fewer can maintain suspense for page after page as he does. This book does all that and while the hallmarks that one has come to expect: the not-so-subtle lectures on morality and the mandatory heroic Golden Retriever are there and the ending of the book is weaker than the beginning, still this is pure Koontz and great fun to read.
After reading as many Koontz books as I have, you can't help but notice many similarities in his characters, themes, and supernatural devices for creating spooky suspense. Even so, if you are a Koontz lover or someone who gets into a really creepy suspense story, you will find that his tried-and-true methods work their magic once again.What the Night Knows features a brilliant-yet-humble protagonist in homicide detective John Calvino, children who act a bit too precociously, a villian who embodies pure evil, and a ticking clock showdown between them that makes it nearly impossible to tear yourself away from the story. Unlike some of his books, which use realism to counterbalance the supernatural elements, Koontz makes is rather obvious from the start that his villian, Alton Turner Blackwood, is something other than flesh-and-blood. As Blackwood haunts Calvino and his family members in a way that exploits each of their particular vulnerabilities, we learn that he has targeted them because Calvino killed Blackwood's mortal self twenty years ago after murdering Calvino's parents and sister. Koontz does a good job defining Blackwood's capabilities and limitations, allowing him to take control of people who lack sufficient moral fiber resist his evil bidding, but limiting his ability to harm others when existing merely as a disembodied ghost. He also uses Calvino's survivor guilt as a clever foothold that makes him vulnerable to Blackwood.While the beginning and middle of the novel are executed to perfection, readers may have mixed feelings about the ending. In the final showdown between Calvino's family and Blackwood, Koontz employs some plot devices like the ghost of the Calvino dog and a portal built of Legos that come across as rather contrived. One other thing that bothered me was Koontz's use of the name "Blackwood" for the villain, as it aped a similar villian named Blackwood who appeared in the recent Sherlock Holmes movie. Still, this is an entertaining and compelling read by one of the finest suspense writers in the business. Definitely recommended.-Kevin Joseph, author of The Champion Maker
Wow, Dean Koontz is definitely working his craft with this book. I am not a big fan of what he has written in the past, but this novel was well worth looking into. When a detective looks into a murder case that directly mirrors an incident from his past, he soon discovers that his family may be in danger and that the man that he was forced to kill may have resurrected himself to once again cause pain to his victims. Definitely one of the best books Koontz has ever written and worth a five out of five stars.
Homicide Detective John Colvino's future is about to collide with his past. His involvement in the homicide case of an entire family, is eerily similar to the deaths 20 years ago of his own family. A second family is also slain and more similarities present, making Detective Colvino fear that either a copycat or some unknown method is being used to recreate a series of homicides from the past. The author being Dean Kootz, you know the unknown method must have something to do with the supernatural, spirits or ghosts, or a combination of such to cause the reader to become glued to the book, turning pages as fast as he can to find out how thislatest book is going to play out. No disappointments here, well written and enjoyable if you are not a Koontz fan, it's time to find out why so many readers are, and here is a good book to start with.
Kep in mind this reveiwer has some 20-odd (not Odd) books by Koontz under his belt, so when i say this is work he has covered before and the plotting was strrrrrrretched out (a good editor could cut it at least 30 to 50 pages and it woukl ring truer. Having said that, this will captivate new readers or those who have only read one or two or five Koontz books. What's missing is a kind of "lightness" present in other works, such as "Watchers". Koontz has broached the "leap of imagination" with me. I'm okay with magical realism and okay with evil winning over good but I am not okay with an eight year old girl who builds a machine from LEGOS that transforms into a machine of God DEUS EX MACHINUS. Should you buy it? Yes. But maybe not for someone in a chronic depreswsion.
I really didn't get into the book until the last several chapters, when John Calvino talked to the priest Peter Abelard. The children in this book are extraordinarily intellect. Zach, Naomi, and Minnie don't talk like real kids, but I did enjoy Minnie's character and the way she knew things. Alton Turner Blackwood was just a deformed, demented soul. The work up of the book was a bit too long.I just have to remember Dean Koontz has written better and he is one of my favorite authors.