Blatty, William Peter. Legion. New York: Pocket Books. 5/1984. 4310pp
Oh boy. High hopes here. The original novel, The Exorcist, is one of my all-time favourite novels. Something about the Catholic upbringing just resonates hugely with that book -- god, the devil, good, evil, the novel is drenched in conflicting desires and makes it powerful and scary and beautiful at the same time. The original film is also very effective, especially since I saw it the first time when I was pretty young. Scared the crap out of me. Still does. Now, after many years, I finally get around to reading Blatty's sequel. High hopes, indeed. As I mention below, I've already seen the film and quite liked it. Oh boy. Unfortunately, the novel is a piece of crap. The problem, for me at least, is that Blatty focuses too much on the police procedural aspect of the novel, spending a lot of time exploring the Lt. Kinderman character. Kinderman comes off as a cross between Lt. Columbo, Rodney Dangerfield and the guy who played Seinfeld's father in the sitcom. Hard to take seriously as a warrior against evil. And speaking of evil, the main plot line concerns a series of killings resembling those from a supposedly dead serial killer. Unfortunately (that word again), the connection to the whole Exorcist storyline doesn't come in until about two thirds of the way through the book. By then, I have to say I really didn't care too much.
It's an interesting side note is that the edition I have is the movie tie in for film The Exorcist III from 1990. Interesting since that although it's been 10+ years since I saw the movie, as I have said, I strongly prefer it to the book. As I recall, the film had a bit of scariness and didn't focus on Kinderman's character so much. It was also an Exorcist film rather an ill-advised conversion of an old 87th Precinct novel. It's just proof positive that somehow it's easier to make a decent movie of a mediocre-to-bad book than to make a good movie from a good book. Maybe if the source material is weaker, the film makers try harder.