What’s behind Dean Koontz’ Forbidden Door?

 

The forbidden door kontz

 

The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz (Bantam, September 11, 2018) darkles with danger from the first page to the last. It’s a fast-paced thrill ride, to say the least, and much of the novel describes exotic vehicles and long motor trips from Texas to Southern California for both the pursued and their demented pursuers.

This is the fourth novel in Dean’s Jane Hawk series. Maintaining tension throughout four consecutive thrillers is difficult for any novelist, even the most experienced, and the plot does drag in places. But Dean keeps me reading because of the continuing supporting characters, especially Cornell, Bernie, Luther, and Travis and his two dogs, Duke and Queenie. Jane can take care of herself, but we come to care deeply about these others because they’re not only vulnerable but surprising. Each has redeeming qualities that make them sympathetic and likable. And dogs, as in all of Dean’s recent novels, are special.

The bad guys have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. None. Dubose, the most ruthless of the lot, is however full of surprises. Egon Gottfrey is as relentless in his pursuit as he is depraved beyond measure. There’s never any doubt in a reader’s mind who the bad guys are, despite valid FBI, NSA, and Homeland Security credentials.

The Forbidden Door opens up new possibilities for future plot twists and, despite vague foreshadowings, we still have no clue who the mastermind—Egon Gottfrey’s Unknown Playwrite—might be. I look forward to learning more in future Jane Hawk novels.

 

 

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The Suspense Could Kill You

the crooked staircase

 

The thrill is back as Dean Koontz returns once again to the fast-paced protagonist-on-the-run roots that made his early novels so exciting and appealing. The Jane Hawk novels seamlessly cross genres, effortlessly moving from science fiction territory into that of James Bond’s espionage and modern techno-thrillers, from noir into pure psychological horror.

None of the characters in The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz (Random House, May 8, 2018) learned to play nice as children, and they certainly make reprehensible adults. Jane’s piano virtuoso father killed her mother and made life hell for the young girl, Booth Hendrickson’s mother made life hell for Booth and his half-brother, and the crooked staircase leads Jane and Booth straight down into a real-life hell from which only one may emerge alive.

Alternating short chapters between Jane Hawk’s POV and other viewpoint characters, including those hunting her, Koontz paints a horrifying picture of the worst abuses of government authority imaginable. Carter Jergen and Dubose are NSA employees who also work for the FBI, CIA, DHS, and IRS. They’re covert agents of the Techno Arcadians, a secret cabal of government and business elite who seek to control the world. They’re already in control of many world leaders, politicians and businessmen, implanted with nanotechnology that turns them into mindless slaves like modern-day Manchurian Candidates.

Dean pays tribute to Robert A. Heinlein, one of his mentors and idols, throughout this novel. Characters become strangers in a strange land, mannequins controlled by puppet-masters, Waldoes manipulated by monsters. Another of his idols, Charles Dickens, receives honorable mentions. And, of course, there’s always a faithful canine companion or two in a Dean Koontz novel.

We first met Jane Hawk in The Silent Corner (Bantam, June 2017) and continued her exciting adventures in The Whispering Room (Bantam, November 2017). In this third novel, The Crooked Staircase, former FBI Special Agent Jane is on the run from the Techno Arcadians while seeking revenge against those who killed her husband Nick. With son Travis safely hidden, Jane pursues Booth Hendrickson even as Hendrickson pursues her.

But bad guys Jergen and Dubose, two of the nastiest villains you never want to meet in a dark alley, are hot on Travis’ trail.

Will Jane survive descending the crooked staircase? Will Jergen and Dubose capture or kill Travis? You need to read the latest installment of the never-ending Jane Hawk saga to learn what happens next.

Or the suspense could kill you.

Dean Koontz has a new heroine

Dean Koontz combines Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate with Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives to create his latest pulse-pounding suspense thriller The Silent Corner (Bantam Books, June 2017).

Jane Hawk’s husband commits suicide, but he isn’t the only one to die by his own hand. When Jane, a highly-trained FBI Special Agent, takes bereavement leave and investigates the sudden rash of unexplained deaths, she and her five-year-old son are threatened by mysterious strangers who know all about her. Jane’s only hope to save her son and herself is to go entirely off the grid — to disappear into the silent corner where no one can track her movements or whereabouts.

Because those hunting Jane and her son don’t play nice, Jane can’t either. She becomes a rogue agent, a cold-blooded killer, and a thief.

Like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Jane Hawk has skills that allow her to survive against impossible odds. She goes on the offensive and ruthlessly kills people who deserve killing. We cheer her on each time another bad guy bites the dust.

The Silent Corner is only the first of at least three Jane Hawk novels. The Whispering Room will be out next January.

Exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and well-written, I recommend The Silent Corner to everyone who enjoys a good read.

Pogo’s Honda: Unraveling the Mystery of Ashley Bell

Dean Koontz is a master, and Ashley Bell (Bantam, December 2015, ISBN 978-0345545961) is a modern masterpiece of suspense.

It’s obvious that Koontz, always the consummate craftsman, studied the great writers that came before him to discover what worked and what didn’t work in fiction. Today’s writers need to study Koontz.

Dean’s imaginative stories always center around mysteries the reader and protagonist must solve. Bibi Blair is a 22-year-old writer whose go-with-the-flow surfer dude and dudette California parents “go through life failing to see all sorts of amazing things because they aren’t expecting to see them.” They take the world “as is”. Bibi, however, believes in taking the world by its horns and bending it to her will. For Bibi, life is a challenge. So, too, is death.

Mystery piles upon mystery as Bibi recalls events from her childhood and ill-fated college experience. Koontz loves to pull the rug out from beneath his characters (and readers), leaving them dazed. Just when everything seems to be fine again, something else happens. Coincidence piles upon coincidence. But there are no coincidences—only design and premeditation—in a Koontz novel.

Koontz keeps the paragraphs, like the chapters, short. This make reading easier, especially in e-books. Dean seldom uses flowery imagery, preferring the plain and simple language ordinary people feel most comfortable with. Oh, there are indeed plenty of similes and metaphors in a Koontz tale. But when Dean occasionally uses big words, as he sometimes but only rarely does, he doesn’t expect the reader to run to the dictionary to look the word up. He shows, doesn’t merely tell, what those big words mean.

In Ashley Bell, Koontz introduces readers to the meaning of astragalomancy and scrabblemancy, as well as to caracals and night soil. He also explains the meaning of “butt-hole spiders”.

Dean also uses his share of alliteration, although subtly and sparingly enough so alliteration seems neither obsessive nor intrusive. It’s evident that Dean Koontz cares about his readers. He wants readers engulfed in the story, not in the words themselves.

To move the storyline along quickly, Koontz provides alternate POVs with every new chapter or dream-like flashbacks to Bibi’s childhood and college years. Paxton Thorp, Bibi’s fiance, is a Navy SEAL on a blackout mission in the Middle East. Paxton is kept incommunicado—off the grid—while he and his SEAL team assassinate a known terrorist. Paxton has no clue what has happened to Bibi—other than the feeling that Bibi is in trouble—until he returns to the real world.

Koontz mesmerizes readers, puts them into hypnotic trances via subliminal suggestions. Like a master magician, Dean Koontz distracts readers’ attention while working his magic. Is anything as it seems? What’s real? And what isn’t?

As Pogo says about his Honda: “Wouldn’t be fun if it looked like what it was.”

No spoilers for you dear reader. If you want to learn what happens to Bibi Blair and Ashley Bell, you need to surf the novel itself. Just beware: imagination can get the better of you if you let it.

Take it from me, Ashley Bell is worth the read.