Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, January 12, 2012


77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz's latest thriller should have grabbed me, but it didn't.  It took me five or six days to go through 77 Shadow Street while I normally zip through one of his books.  I'm not sure why.

     I am sure it's not because there are no dogs in the book.  (Okay, a couple of dogs were mentioned tangentally in the middle of the book and a golden retreiver -- natch -- appears at the very end, after everything has been wound up.)  And it's not because there is no evil father figure, although the influence of a very evil mother is there.  There is the author's usual contention that the world is a mystical, glorious place for those willing to accept it (after overcoming various evils, natch).  I'm still trying to figure out exactly why the book didn't sing to me.

     77 Shadow Street is the address of the Pendleton, a beaux arts mansion that had been transformed into luxery condos almost four decades ago.  If you are in a dim light, and squinting, and have misplaced your glasses, the word "Pendleton" almost looks like "Perdition."  Perdition it might be, because, every thity-eight years, evil descends on the Pendleton, leaving dead bodies and abducting others.  Only one person has dicovered this pattern:  Silas Kinsley, a retired attorney who has been digging into the building's past as a hobby.  There are a lot of other people living in the Pendleton, including a disgraced former Senator, a successful novelist and her autistic daughter, two very elderly ladies, a former battered wife, an investment consultant, a professional assassin, and a rich conspiracy theorist, as well as the building's superintendent, a receptionist, and the head of the building's security.  Koontz weaves all of them into his mosaic, giving us their backgrounds and histories -- sometimes unneccessarily.

     The novel begins as a horror story.  Ghosts appear, the building morphs, strange and deadly creatures roam, elevators descend thirty floors below the building which should have only one basement floor,  the past, future, and present mesh.  All of which should be exciting, and often is.

     Then, as a means to provide some of the survivors a way to defeat evil, the novels morphs into science fiction -- somewhat unsuccessfully in my view -- and the stakes turn out to be much, much higher than originally thought.  Koontz spends a lot of time with narration; the third-person omniscient view comes down with a heavy hand, methinks -- and maybe it's just me.  Kitty is reading the book now and I'm interested in what her reaction will be.

     Please understand that this is not a bad book.  It is interesting and has a lot of good qualities, but it is hard to stretch a short period of time into 450 pages.  Koontz effectively conveys a sense of wrongness.  He invests us in most of his characters.  I do recommend the book, although with caveats.

     And I found the jacket design to be knock-your-socks-off great.

     I am hoping that his next novel, Odd Apocalypse, due this summer, will restore some of the Koontz magic I found missing in this one.  Meanwhile, I am interested in finding out how others view 77 Shadow Street.


  1. I read one years ago but nothing recently. I found that one had too much chasing around for my taste. It was almost like a script for an action movie.

    1. I seemed to have lost my taste for Koontz years back, some time after he quit being an SF writer and became a best seller. I don't know whether that says something about me or him.