(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Moonlight Cove was a peaceful, if backward town before Thomas Shaddack made it the headquarters for his multimillion-dollar electronics company. With it came prosperity for the townspeople. There was soon no unemployment and no poverty. A perfect life? Shaddack would have it so, and soon begins using the people of Moonlight Cove in his ghastly plans. He has developed a way to “improve” people artificially, to make them more efficient yet obedient to only him.

After two-thirds of the town have been converted, a strange anomaly is observed. Some of the converted, rather than becoming more machinelike, regress into bloodthirsty animals. Shaddack’s insane pride refuses to accept failure, however, and he pushes forward with his plans over the objections of an alarmed chief of police.

The premise of this novel, like those of most good horror stories, is not only unlikely, it is quite improbable. MIDNIGHT plays another variation on the author’s pet theme--the human urge to tamper with nature, regardless of the consequences. It is a testament to Koontz’s skills as a storyteller that the reader willingly suspends disbelief to enter the strange world of Moonlight Cove. The narrative moves smoothly from scene to suspenseful scene; the prose is fast-paced without sacrificing detail.

Koontz knows his setting. The terrain, the vegetation, and the climate are as much a part of the story as the plot itself. With more Koontz novels like this one and his earlier WATCHERS, California may soon replace New England as the prime location for the American horror story.