Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son

Originally published: 2004
Source: eBook

This is one of those books that was on my radar since it came out six years ago.  Glad I finally read it.  I was pleasantly surprised by the book’s depth of emotion and I had no idea that its structure is like a contemporary mystery/thriller.   

Prodigal Son is the first book in Koontz’s Frankenstein series.  The newest addition to the series came out this spring.

Here’s a list:

  1. Prodigal Son 2004 (co-writer: Kevin J. Anderson)
  2. City of Night 2005 (co-writer: Ed Gorman)
  3. Dead and Alive 2009
  4. Lost Souls 2010

Synopsis (with some slight spoilers): Frankenstein’s monster is alive and well and living in a Tibetan monastery.  He’s no longer the angry, uncontrolled monster of Shelley’s book or the movies.  He’s spent 200 years growing, learning, and possibly becoming more human than most humans.  Actually, he’s even a bit godlike and has taken the name Deucalion.

A letter arrives at the monastery and Deucalion must leave.  We don’t know why, but find out soon after his arrival in New Orleans where detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison are trying to find a serial killer who is removing body parts–both appendages and organs–from his victims.

I just realized that this the second novel in a row that I read set in New Orleans.  It wasn’t an intentional choice because I didn’t even know Prodigal Son was set there.  The last novel I read, Nevada Barr’s Burn was also set in New Orleans.  I think the last book I read set in The Big Easy was probably Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, which I read in the 80s.  Someone could probably write a dissertation about the literary, historical, and cultural significance of these three novels being set in New Orleans.

But, I digress.

Carson’s autistic younger brother is under her care and at first you wonder if he’s included simply as a way to soften Carson’s edges as a character, but later you find he becomes an integral part of the plot.  There’s an interesting tie-in regarding autistic behavior and some of the creatures created by Victor Frankenstein, now re-named Victor Helios.

I enjoyed the characters of Carson and Maddison, but what most appealed to me was the yearning to be human that some of Frankenstein/Helios’s creations feel.  These man-made, meticulously programmed, and supposedly soul-less creatures longing to have meaning in their life and a purpose other than the intention for which their creator made them, inspired me to continue trying to be a better person.  Anyone else have that reaction?

And I love that one of the characters is named Jonathan Harker.  Prodigal Son is an action packed, fun read for those of us who grew up on the old Frankenstein and Dracula flicks as well as the lovers of the literature that spawned the movies.  I hope it inspires people who haven’t read Mary Shelley to pick up her book.

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