After having read William Peter Blatty’s iconic work, I was eager to see how this would compare. Labelled “the sequel to The Exorcist”, the book had me quite excited, hoping for something as stellar as that chilling tale that still resonates with me. However, with some similar characters and a loose plot line that extends past the original novel, there was little else that drew me to the piece. Perhaps this was an attempt to extend the horrors, but it went on some painful tangents that left me wondering why I took the time with this piece. Disappointed, but I suppose I can say I’ve read it.
Lieutenant William Kinderman is still working in DC, having spent years trying to come to terms with what happened back in 1971. He’s sent to a few new homicides that are grotesque and haunting in equal measure: a boy who is left crucified, priests murdered in horrible ways, and a nurse who has been slaughtered. They all bear a zodiac sign, a common marking by the Gemini Killer. Kinderman is ready to tackle whatever’s put before him, though he cannot shake the sense that it is nothing good.
Kinderman cannot believe what he’s seeing, as the Gemini Killer has been dead for 12 years. Can this be a copycat out there to keep the killings alive? Kinderman tries to come to terms with it all, working alongside a medical professional, and remembering some of the odd happenings in 1971, around the time Gemini stopped killing. What he comes to discover will haunt him even more, crossing the lines between living and dead in ways never thought possible.
I fully believe that some authors have the gift of being able to pen a novel and continue with that momentum for years to come, either adding to the series or branching out to explore new ideas. While I have only read two of William Peter Blatty’s novels, I am not sure if adding to The Exorcist series was the best idea, much like many of the film additions have been less than successful. Some things are best left to fester in the mind, without adding new layers.
The Kinderman character was odd from the outset and did not get much better as the novel progressed. I found him to be eager to talk in tangents and kept me scratching my head as to why I would care about what he said. His sleuthing skills may be quite effective, but he’s got little substance to really pull the reader in. Both his private and public lives seemed beige to me, even though he talked a big game. Perhaps I wanted something a tad more electrifying in a protagonist. Then again, I was surely playing a comparison game with the series debut and all that could be found within.
It is surely quite difficult to write a sequel to an explosive novel, even if there are some lingering questions. Blatty certainly has some interesting thoughts to share, but I don’t think I connected well with them. Even having read The Exorcist right before, this story did not flow well for me, nor did I find it an enjoyable experience. While there was a great deal of information and I could see the ‘continuation’ of sorts, I was not drawn in by either the writing or premise. The story did seem to make decent progress, even if I did not find myself enjoying much of the plot. There were many tangents that just left me wondering how they fit together, as though Blatty wanted to impress the reader with a bunch of random factoids. There was a loose ‘fear factor’, but I would not call it anything close to the chills found in the series debut. I’ll leave it to others to expound on the book. It was a pass for me.
Kudos, Mr. Blatty, for trying to keep the chills alive. It was tepid for me and I will stick to the original for my exorcism needs.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons