I’ve had a bit of a Dean Koontz revival these last couple of months. First I reviewed his Nameless series of books (read my blog here) and then I wrote about his best three books (read my blog here). I wrote at the time that it was highly unlikely that I would want to change my top three books by My Koontz, but actually I would remove Phantoms and replace it with Lightning, a pseudo-science adventure with time travelling nazis.
Back to the Jane Hawk series, and I ordered something from Amazon in early June and accidentally clicked on the one month free Prime trial. It is very easy to do this and surprisingly harder to cancel, but that’s the way things go. However, there are a number of books available to read for free with Prime, one of which was The Silent Corner, the first book in the five book series. I read it in almost one sitting. I was completely hooked.
It is difficult to review a whole series of books without giving away too much plot details from the later books, so if you’ve not read the series, don’t read beyond ‘Spoilers’.
The Silent Corner
Jane Hawk is a decorated FBI Agent, happily married to a former Marine with a young son. Her husband suddenly kills himself, for no apparent reason. Devastated, Jane investigates and finds that the suicide rate has increased and that her husband isn’t the only apparently happy person to have killed themselves. When she is threatened she knows that she is onto something, and goes on the run, hiding her son with friends. The silent corner refers to people going ‘off-grid’, going offline, no internet, no mobile, no GPS devices. Jane does this and then tracks down a few leads, discovering rumours of nano-technology being used to control people, and of a ‘weird’ brothel. With the help of another Marine Jane hunts down a brilliant but insane scientist who invented and almost perfected the technology.
Nano-technology is something that Dean wrote about 30 years ago in the book Midnight, where a whole town has been implanted, and then many of the subjects go slightly crazy. In The Silent Corner the technology is more wide-spread than first assumed, and the so called Techno Arcadians, the people on the inside, are far more numerous than first expected.
An excellent book, 5 out of 5, and as soon as I’d finished it I was downloading the second book.
Don’t read beyond here if you’ve not read The Silent Corner.
Book Two: The Whispering Room
The second book begins with a dedicated and hard working award winning teacher loading up her car with flammables and driving into a newly opened restaurant, killing a politician and over forty other innocent people. The local sheriff, who has known this kind teacher all his life, knows something is very wrong. The subsequent cover up confirms this. While this is going on, Jane has captured a lawyer, one of the Arcadians, and extracts more information. They both independently find themselves in a small town with a large hotel and conference facility where they believe many of the guests had been drugged and subsequently implanted with the mind control nano-technology. They also discover the whispering room, a new development in the nano-technology which allows the implanted people to communicate telepathically within a 20 mile radius. The whole town, apart from their children, have been implanted. On top of the whispering room we also learn about the Hamlet list. The idea being that if Hamlet had been killed in the first act, there would have been far fewer deaths. In this series the men and women on the list are people that could potentially alter the course of history for the worse. When I say ‘worse’ I mean worse for those power mad ‘elites’ who want everything.
This was another excellent thrill of a book, again 5 out of 5, and as I finished it I downloaded the final three books in the series.
The Crooked Staircase
By this point in the series it has become obvious that this isn’t a small group of ‘believers’ but a very large scale part of the Government, highly funded, highly motivated and definitely not nice people. Their ‘aim’ is to make the world a better place, although mind control isn’t the right way to do this. The people at the top want power, unlimited power, to be able to do anything they want without repercussions. Think Donald Trump or Dominic Cummings who ‘know’ that the rules don’t apply to them.
In the Crooked Staircase Jane goes after another one of the heads of the Arcadians, finding him to be very disturbed. His brother had married and then forced his wives to hand over their wealth in the divorce settlements, before their untimely deaths a few years later. The brother learnt this behaviour from his mother, who virtually tortured her two sons, instilling in them a crazed power mad need to be in control.
Another 5 out of 5 book which opens up more avenues for Jane to explore in the next installment.
The Forbidden Door
In book 4 the agents of change fed up with not capturing Jane Hawk, opt to follow her in laws and any friends that might be looking after her son. Her husbands parents manage to allude their potential enslavers, but the friends looking after Travis are not so fortunate. Here we have one of Dean Koontzs often used plot devices, where a main character has a helpful relative or friend with almost unlimited funds. Powerful storms with torrential rain and thunder is another plot device Mr Koontz often uses to ramp up the tension. Reading all five books one after another means that these are spotted, along with his fondness for the word ‘cleave’.
Anyway, the Government agents have a vague idea where Travis is holed up, knowing that this will be their best opportunity to capture Jane. Their plan is to inject the nano-technology into as many locals as possible and force them to help search for the boy. The creator of the technology postulated that one in 10,000 people might react very badly to the implants and become insanely violent. They would enter the forbidden door. If this was to be combined with the whispering room potentially the violence could spread to everyone with the technology within a 20 mile radius. Jane enlists the former sheriff from book 2 to help her rescue her son.
Once again another 5 out of 5 book, and I could hardly wait to begin the final book. Again more spoilers follow.
The Night Window
I crashed into this book, voraciously reading it, although it didn’t feel like the end of the series. The book started slower than any of the others, and about half way through I thought that it might not be the last book. It might be the last book written so far, but that Mr Koontz had plans for another book or two in the series that were not yet published. There was also the small matter from the end of Book 4, where Jane’s in laws had captured an Arcadian and were about to inject him with the nano-technology. This is never mentioned in the last book.
In The Night Window Jane meets up with an old colleague from the FBI, a computer genius who had hacked, on behalf of the Arcadians, every agency and database the Government has. Another thread in the book has the billionaire visionary, the man behind the curtain, hunting down someone from the Hamlet list, who escapes, but we do get to read about his childhood and how he was ‘evil’ from an early age.
The book slowly builds towards the finale, with the whispering room once again being utilised, however, a previously unknown technological advance is used to reveal all of the implanted victims. The book ties up most of the loose ends, although, as mentioned earlier Jane’s in laws aren’t featured until the very end, and the mother from book three isn’t mentioned either. For me this was the weakest book of the series, but I would still give it 4 out of 5, possibly 4 and a half. If you’ve come this far you’re definitely going to want to finish the whole series.
Overall a brilliant series, dark and dystopian in the vein of many of Dean Koontz’s books. Time for me to re-read a few of his earlier classics.