The Eyes of Darkness

The Eyes of Darkness - Dean Koontz

12 year old Danny goes on a camping trip and dies in a horrible accident along with his companions. A year later, his workaholic mother Christina sees a splitting image of her son in a strangers car. Then she sees suspicious occurrences like a message from Danny, and her son calling out to her in dreams. She wonders if her son is truly dead and begins to obsess over it. She remembers being told how mangled her son's body was from the accident, and not being able to view it to say goodbye.

Her partner Elliot Stryker (ex-military) is a lawyer at Dwyer, West, Nichols and Coffey (all pseudonyms of Dean Koontz) and decides to help out. The approach the coroner to exhume Danny's body, but the coroner is dead. Christina and Elliot have a few near death experiences, and Elliot suspects the involvement of the government. Elliot is working with the government in a professional capacity in intelligence matters; and has worked for them in the past as a soldier, so he knows how they operate. Christina and Elliot decide to dig deeper. After more close encounters with death they reach a government facility and meet a disgruntled employee who tells them about government experiments on humans. He guides them into the building which is a chemical warfare lab. Inside they learn that Danny survived and the experiments have given him psychic powers which used to call out to his mother, guiding her to rescue him.

There's nothing spectacular about the book. The pace is quick, but the plot is mediocre and the story-line is generic. The protagonists have the usual virtues, and villains seem more real. The updated version of the book has an acclaimed afterword but the author about his experiences getting the book made into a movie. The book is neither horror, nor sci-fi; its a thriller with supernatural elements.

The book is not about really about a virus. The Eyes of Darkness (updated edition) has a Chinese scientist (Li Chen) who moved to the US with information about a deadly Chinese bio-weapon called the Wuhan 400 because of where it was developed. The Gorki / Wuhan 400 has a 100% fatality rate (like the Captain Tripps virus in Stephen King's The Stand). The virus affects humans alone, and no other living creature, and it dies outside a human body in a minute. The Gorki / Wuhan 400 attacks the brain and eats it away like acid.

The Eye of Darkness was written in the thick of the Cold War in 1981. It was Dean Koontz' second novel and he published it under the pseudonym - Leigh Nichols; a common practice among new writers to protect themselves. By 1989 Koontz had established himself and was ready to publish it in his own name; he updated the text and got rid of his several pseudonyms. To keep the book relevant he made some changes. There is a chemically engineered bio weapon in this book called the Wuhan-400 virus, taking its name from the Chinese city where it was synthesized. In the original 1981 text the weapon was called the Gorki-400, again taking its name after the Russian city where it was produced. In 1981 the USSR was the greatest threat to America, which is where villains and problems in most thrillers originated from, but by 1989 Russia was trying to integrate with the west and was no longer a threat in pop culture. Kootz changed the source of the virus to the Chinese city of Wuhan which possibly housed a bio-weapons facility. That the Chinese had recently cracked down on students in Tiananmen in 1989 made it a plausible villain in the eyes of the reading public.

dean koontz, eyes of darkness, wuhan 400, virus, gorki 400, thriller, leigh nichols, fiction, books

Secret organization.

Quick pace.

Generic story-line.

Mediocre plot.

Dated feel.

Infamous in 2020.