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Mary Shelley was not the most prolific of authors; in fact the only book that most people will know by her is Frankenstein, a book that tells of a scientist that creates life from a collection of body parts stolen from a graveyard. What would happen if this story was actually fact and that Shelley had used local myths to cobble together a tale closer to the truth than she could ever know? Its very unlikely, but in a modern world of stem cell research and cloning perhaps the reanimation of the dead is soon to become a reality. Would we not snap at the chance of immortality, no matter the cost?
In the world of Prodigal Son Frankenstein and his monster are very real. Its been 200 years since the events written in the famous Shelley novel and the monster, now calling himself Deucalion, has lived many years in a peaceful and remote monastery. He is happy to stay in this serene place forever until a package arrives that forces him to return to the modern world a world of New Orleans in 2006. There is a serial killer loose in New Orleans who has taken to killing young women and stealing their body parts. Coupled to this is the rise of a new business man who specialises in genetic engineering and looks identical to Deucalions past master Frankenstein. Deucalion must go to the city and uncover whether Frankenstein is once again creating new life from old. By doing this he will become involved in a police investigation and with the police on the hunt for a serial killer a 6ft 4 man made out of corpses could be their prime suspect!
Frankenstein: Prodigal Son is the first in a trilogy of books by overly prolific horror writer Dean Koontz. People who have read some of my reviews may have noticed that I think Koontz is one of the laziest hacks out there. However, even with his inability to edit a novel, and his use of the same storyline over and over again, he does have some good books e.g. Odd Thomas. This trilogy is written with the aid of another writer, in book 1s case Kevin J Anderson. With the reigns held by Anderson (author of the best Star Wars tie in novels) Prodigal Son is filled with interesting ideas, however, they are not all pulled off.
On the idea front alone Koontz and Anderson have created a book worth reading for genre fans. I have read the sequel to Day of the Triffids and love the continued adventures of classic tales years later. The idea of continuing Frankenstein 200 years later is full of potential and for the first half of this book the authors pull it off well. Not only is there the promise of reanimated corpses, but Koontz and co. have successfully brought the idea into the modern era with clones and genetics. Why would a 200+ year old scientist use rotten corpses when the ability to grow your own master race in vats is now available? Over the years it seems that the monster has become human, and Frankenstein has become a monster.
The monster/master story is complimented well by a structured murder mystery that runs parallel. We get to meet ambitious police officer Carson O'Connor. She, along with her partner, must investigate the spate of killings that has the town in fear. They soon become aware that the world in which they live in is perhaps not as straight forward as they thought. All the main characters in the book are well realised and add an interesting perspective onto events. O'Connor and Deucalion stand out as the most sympathetic characters and they act as the main threads if the story. I particularly liked Deucalion as he has spent decades suppressing the feelings of chaos and evil that he is made from. His re-emergence into a violent real world puts him under great strain and acts as a great dynamic in the book.
There is one character that does not bode so well in the future and is one of the reasons this book can only be considered average; Dr Frankenstein. Here is a character alive for over 200 years and has great narrative potential. I admit that any person that harbours the power of eternal youth may become mad, but I felt that Koontz dealt with it badly. Frankenstein has become a megalomaniac obsessed by work, violence and sex. The sexual deviance that runs through this book is far too strong and ruined large parts for me. The experiments that Frankenstein is currently working on is enough to hold my attention, I did not need the numerous uncomfortable sections on offer.
Another area that causes the book to waver between great and poor is the addition of a couple of other story threads. These are used an inlets to the future books in the series and uncover the TV script origins that the book had. I felt that the other storylines in the book stopped the flow too regularly and were not actually needed until book 2.
Overall, Prodigal Son can probably be compared to one of Frankensteins botched experiments the ideas are great, but the final product lacks something (a soul perhaps?) However, the majority of the book was packed with exciting events and interesting concepts and for that I will defiantly read the rest of the series. If Koontz and his future writing partner can cut back on the salacious use of sex and concentrate on the core aspects of the book they could prove to be worthwhile reads.
Author: Dean Koontz and Kevin J Anderson
Price: amazon uk - £5.49
play.com - £5.49
Frankenstein's monster has survived the centuries to become a creature living in the shadows of modern civilization, a haunted and really quite heroic figure dedicated to battling the truly monstrous evil that has also survived the years: the cruel genius who gave him life, Dr Frankenstein. The legendary monster is called Deucalion. The action takes place in modern-day New Orleans where the next generation of Dr Frankenstein's monsters is wreaking havoc. But it's Deucalion, newly arrived in the city, who is the obvious suspect in the eyes of Detective Carson O'Connor. The cool, tough cop is soon talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more -- and less -- than human. She doesn't know Deucalion and she are on the same side. Deucalion seeks one final confrontation with the evil genius who created him, Dr Frankenstein. Dean Koontz, the master storyteller, creates a bold new legend.