Legion by William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist, #2


A young boy is found horribly murdered in a mock crucifixion. Is the murderer the elderly woman who witnessed the crime? A neurologist who can no longer bear the pain life inflicts on its victims? A psychiatrist with a macabre sense of humor and a guilty secret? A mysterious mental patient, locked in silent isolation?

Lieutenant Kinderman follows a bewildering trail that links all these people, confronting a new enigma at every turn even as more murders surface. Why does each victim suffer the same dreadful mutilations? Why are two of the victims priests? Is there a connection between these crimes and another series of murders that took place twelve years ago—and supposedly ended with the death of the killer?

Legion is a novel of breathtaking energy and suspense. But more than this, it is an extraordinary journey into the uncharted depths of the human mind and the most agonizing questions of the human condition.

The answers are revealed in a climax so stunning that it could only have been written by the author of The Exorcist—William Peter Blatty.

“We have every indication that he died of fright.”

As a coincidence, I finally re-read The Exorcist after more than 15 years in December. I followed this up in January with a re-read (been more than 10 years) of Legion, the sequel that inspired the third flick. Strangely William Peter Blatty took his last breath three days later. RIP for the author, he dished out some chilling stories.

We all remember the bizarre and relentless Lieutenant Kinderman from the original story. He kept up his friendship with a priest who was a close friend of Damien Karras and who the lieutenant walked off with when that story closed its horrors. Suddenly entrenched in a bizarre series of truly nauseating deaths, he finds that the blueprints are linked to the Zodiac killer who was executed years ago. As he follows the crime, he runs into a truly unsettling shock.

It's funny that the strength of philosophy in Kinderman's character and the storyline both upped and downed it. Playing off its strengths to continue intellectual pondering when introducing something so flighty as possession, but it was overdone to where it lost its luster and gave some downright dull moments. Still Kinderman is an intriguing detective and we do get some emotional scenes. Part of me greatly enjoyed his strange ponderings, but sometimes it grew too much to where I wanted to skim a few dialogue exchanges and weird mental philosophies. Obviously Blatty would work religion into this book.

There's a sad death here to hated to hear about, and the poor soul was offed in a horrible way. The book doesn't hold back on the violence level seen after the fact. The movie is actually much creepier, and I do wish the author would have done a particular reveal earlier on, but the pacing was still strong and hard to put down. The book takes forever to get to its twist with the cell inmate, while the movie smartly started earlier in the mystery.

Bleak and grim, it was easy to lose myself in the story. Blatty's writing style was more personal than the original Exorcist. Unfortunately the story is a little cheesy in some ways, and the Exorcist is more original (in its time), but this was a worthy follow-up that deserves a read.

Oh, and love the stepback

   Book Quotes:

“Every man that ever lived craved perfect happiness, the detective poignantly reflected. But how can we have it when we know we’re going to die? Each joy was clouded by the knowledge it would end. And so nature had implanted in us a desire for something unattainable? No. It couldn’t be. It makes no sense. Every other striving implanted by nature had a corresponding object that wasn’t a phantom. Why this exception? the detective reasoned. It was nature making hunger when there wasn’t any food. We continue. We go on. Thus death proved life.”

   Cover Gallery: