I have read more than one novel by Dean Koontz, most memorably his thriller Intensity. I wouldn’t say I am a fan, really, but I know that I can depend on him to deliver a decently-written page-turner.
The Voice of the Night tells the story of fourteen-year-old Colin, who moves with his newly divorced mother to Santa Leona, a coastal town near San Francisco. There he meets Roy, a kid who is the same age, but who possesses all the qualities Colin lacks: charisma, confidence and good looks. Colin has never really had a best friend before, and for some reason Roy seems to take a shine to him.
But it’s a sinister shine. Roy is fascinated with death. He wants to know if Colin has ever killed anything. He brags that he has, but Colin is pretty certain, at least at first, that it’s some sort of friendship test. When Roy brags about torturing a cat,
…Colin sensed that Roy was testing him. He felt certain that the gruesome story about the cat was just the latest test, but he couldn’t imagine what Roy had wanted him to say or do. Had he passed or failed?
Despite Colin’s uneasiness, Roy is “just about the best friend a guy could ask for.” Until he isn’t. And it doesn’t take long for The Voice in the Night to kick into high gear.
There are no adults in this book. Colin’s mother is running an art gallery and getting her post-divorce sea legs under her. She is rarely home. Colin’s dad takes him fishing once with a bunch of his friends, who are all drunk jerks. Roy’s parents, too, are MIA. When Colin’s relationship with Roy begins to unravel, he is all alone to try to figure it out. And more and more, Colin begins to feel as though his life depends on it.
The Voice in the Night clicks along without too much interference. The cast of characters is small, their motivations obvious and the conclusion, although a tad trite, is believable.