Friday, October 9, 2009

Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson

While this was an excellent book (a real page turner), I'm saddened that it wasn't realized as a TV series--as it was originally planned to be. USA Network had gotten a director and some of the major elements of the show together when they surprised Koontz with a small twist: they were going to drastically change his script to something entirely different from his original plot. Koontz withdrew his project, and thus we have the Frankenstein trilogy. After you read the book, you might have the same sentiment: while a great book, this would have made a kick-butt TV show!

Also, I must note that this year, with the release of the final book in the series, Dead and Alive, for some reason Kevin J. Anderson's name was scrubbed from any new editions of the original book that he coauthored. I'm not going to get into that here but rather will continue to credit both authors in my review. What can I say? I've an inclusive personality.

I was surprised with how much of a detective novel Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson made their Frankenstein: Prodigal Son. Expecting something different, I was pleased with the murder-mystery framework.

The novel is set in modern-day New Orleans, with the resurfacing of the original monster (Deucalion) created by Victor Frankenstein in Austria two hundred years ago. He's discovered that Victor Frankenstein is till alive and is working to build an army of cloned "humans."

Meanwhile, a serial killer is going around New Orleans, and Detectives Carson O'Connor and Michael Maddison are on the case. As they pursue various leads, they quickly find out that this is no normal case--even for murder.

One of the several villains of the book, Roy Ribeaux, seemed very similar to Koontz's hitman character in Watchers, who is obsessed with his perfection and superhuman achievement to the point of horrendous psychosis. He was unique enough, though, and the twists that Koontz and Anderson throw in to tweak this character are interesting.

Sometimes it seems like Carson and Michael are thrown leads too often and too easily, with perfect timing in some cases. I'm not entirely objecting to this, since I like the good guys to win more often than not, but sometimes they had it easy.

Koontz and Anderson tend to get a little repetitive with a few chapters (especially with Randal Six...), where they could have easily have taken five or six chapters and deleted all but one of those chapters and still had the same content. And with Randal Six, most of that storyline is just a teaser for the subsequent two books.

The suspense is gripping, and I couldn't help but at times sense that these creations of Victor Frankenstein were real--disturbing in every way and so unnatural. Interrupting the suspense at times (and very welcome) was a thread of sarcastic, witty humor, especially with the banter between Carson and Michael. One of the best humorous scenes of the book is when Carson and Michael go to question Detective Harker's partner, Frye, and Frye comes to the door revealing himself as the slob that he is. Michael's quips are priceless.

I'd recommend the novel to anyone who enjoys a good supernatural mystery. The New Orleans setting is interesting, the characters varied and all shades of gray, and the plot driving and relentless.

Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson. Bantam Books. 2005. 512 pp. $9.99 (PB).

Dean Koontz Frankenstein Series:

1. Prodigal Son
2. City of Night
3. Dead and Alive


  1. You do an awesome job of reviewing books. So thorough. I say: Ooh that was a great book. You provide pages of analysis :)

    Don't think I'll be purusing this one though.

  2. Ryan loved it and it's on my "to read" list. Yeah, it's a long list, sue me :)

  3. Yeah, I don't think it's your cup of tea, DJ. Debbie, I'm sure you'll like it.

    Ah, the to-read gets longer quicker than it gets shorter.

  4. One of the reasons I stick to YA and Middle Grade: I can finish them pretty quick. :) Just read three amazing Newberry Winners. Ahh to write that great :)

  5. I can't do Koontz either. Good job on the review though. :)