Dean Koontz has given readers another bizarre tale in his Frankenstein series. Deucalion, the tall, powerful living creation of Victor Frankenstein (aka Victor Helios), resides at St. Bartholomew’s Abbey, where his hideous physical character is safe from worldly scrutiny. Salvatore, a monk who is known as Brother Knuckles, witnesses his revelation in the abbey’s sanctuary. Deucalion believes his maker to be alive.
Koontz switches his story abruptly to Rainbow Falls, Montana, where an event of epic proportion is taking place. The town’s public figures are soon replaced by exact manufactured replicas of their former selves. A new Community will stoically turn the rural town into a center for the next millennium, the birth of an apocalypse. Erskine Potter, the mayor, is the epitome of the new breed taking over Rainbow Falls. A perfectionist, he plans to systematically remove the least bit of disorganization, starting in his house and then moving on to the entire town. With its beginning here, the plan is for the Community to grow, overtaking neighboring areas and eventually the nation. On the Potter property, a large barn will be prepared to house the town’s former residents before their elimination. Community drones known as Builders stun them with forehead wounds that yield them useless and lead them like sheep into destruction.
Koontz does not disappoint. He introduces a handful of real people, untouched by the intruders, who must discover the townspeople’s plight and work to thwart the plan. From New Orleans, Carson O’Connor Madison and her husband, Michael, demonstrate why they are top cops in their ability to rein in the worst criminals. Previously, they discovered 240-year-old Victor Helios working to establish a new Race from his laboratory. Together, they have killed him and destroyed his diabolical plan. Now they own a private detective agency and parent a baby girl.
Back in Rainbow Falls, an unlikely hero soon develops. Conway Lyss, a vagrant and small-time criminal, is jailed alongside Norman O’Bannon, known as Nummy because of his low IQ. While Carson and Michael catch a Chinese hoodlum in New Orleans, with Carson getting shot in the process, the two jailbirds in Montana witness the strange transformation of fellow prisoners into zombie-like characters their jailors call “livestock.”
Victor Helios’s test-tube entity, Deucalion, will journey to New Orleans on his instinct that Helios has been resurrected and is still alive. He believes his destiny is to destroy his maker. A number of individuals --- the detectives; the inmates; Erika Five, yet another Frankenstein creation, now living at Rainbow Falls as Erika Swedenborg; and two additional patients from the local hospital --- will combine efforts in the unraveling of Victor Frankenstein’s Community. Bryce Walker is an elderly widower and a reluctant patient at Rainbow Falls Memorial Hospital whose level of care has diminished for a couple of days. Previously chatty, pleasant nurses and doctors now mechanically tend to his physical needs with no empathy. Strange pills are administered, and Bryce secretes his allotment without ingesting them. Hearing sobs, wails and painful sounds from other patients, he concludes that the hospital has become a death trap. More uncomfortable by the hour, Bryce follows his instinct and meets a young boy with an allergic reaction who is being abused by the medical staff. Travis senses how much the strange personnel hate him, and the two will team up to escape the dangers they feel.
Koontz’s shifting from chapter to chapter into various lives makes for some difficulty in following a plot line. But the reader can easily distinguish between the real and constructed personalities. The questions arise about which ones, if any, will escape their impending fates and transformations into community drones. By the final page, the characters are set for possible interaction, resolution of Frankenstein’s Armageddon, and perhaps the destruction of his Community. Only Koontz’s skill in the sci-fi genre can keep one reading. He sets the scene, tantalizes and goads us to want more. Rainbow Falls, Montana, may hold the key to FRANKENSTEIN: LOST SOULS.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 24, 2011