The Darkest Evening of the Year was recommended to me from the All Things Dog Blog. This book is a suspense thriller/mystery novel by Dean Koontz. The story centers around a Golden Retriever with an angelic spiritual presence. This Golden Retriever, Nickie, is rescued from a dangerous situation by Amy, who is a lover of Golden Retrievers and part of a Golden Retriever rescue group. We say that Amy saves Nickie, but in truth, it is Nickie who ends up saving Amy, her boyfriend Brian, and an abused little girl named hope.
From the moment that Amy rescued this dog, Nickie, she realized that there was something extraordinary about her – something almost divine. Nickie seems to have an understanding beyond any ordinary dog. She does things which are dog-like but it triggers memories from Amy’s mysterious past – memories which Amy has been trying to forget.
Brian also recognizes there is something special about Nickie, but he isn’t quite sure what it is. He sees it in her eyes and tries to capture it on paper. He is an architect, not a pencil artist, but he is compelled to draw her eyes over and over again. As he draws deeper into her eyes, he experiences something beyond this world. But he doesn’t quite reach it. How can a mere pencil capture something so divine, after all? But his pencil drawings still have a magical affect. They are confiscated by one of the antagonists of the story. The antagonist is highly distracted by the drawings and wonders if perhaps his evil life isn’t as full as it could have been. But there is no redemption from one so evil.
Other antagonists of the story are far more evil. They lead Amy and Brian with Nickie through a series of mysteries and adventures which ultimately leads to a culminating conclusion. All the questions raised at the beginning of the book are answered, except perhaps of the mysteriousness of Nickie. While this question is not answered, it is obvious that she was something divine.
The Darkest Evening of the Year is a page turner. Almost every chapter kept me hanging. Like Brian and his drawings, I was compelled to keep reading until well passed bed time. When I put the book down, I couldn’t help but to keep thinking about it. And when I finally reached the ending, I was satisfied. The characters are captivating, the story is riveting, and the conclusion is fulfilling.
(It is believed that The Darkest Evening of the Year was inspired by the author’s beloved Golden Retriever, Trixie. Dean Koontz is often pictured with Trixie on the back covers of his books. He has even used her as a penname for some of his writings – Trixie Koontz. Trixie has sadly succumbed to cancer. Anna is the new Golden Retriever in his life but the memory of Trixie lives on.)