Forbidden Door
September 10th, 2018 by diane92345

The Jane Hawk series finally hits its stride with its fourth entry, The Forbidden Door.

The Techno Arcadians are upping their game by accusing Jane on a 60 Minutes-style show of murdering her beloved husband Matt and faking his suicide. The Arcadians set in motion a plan to kidnap or kill everyone dear to Jane. Ancel and Clare Hawk, Jane’s in-laws, must flee their farm. Jane and Matt’s five-year-old son, Travis, must flee across the desert. Even Jane is tracked by one of the Techno Arcadians as the net around Jane and all her loved ones is slowly tightened.

The villain this time is Egon Gottfrey. Egon believes in radical philosophical nihilism. Nothing is real. Only his mind exists guided by an Unknown Playwright. Why is he scarier than most villains? Because he has no fear of death. “Gottfrey has no objection to a shootout. His physical existence is an illusion; he can’t be killed.” Egon is also a vicious killer, who kills total strangers for fun. All without a nanobot implant. He is a world-class antagonist and the perfect foil to Jane’s over-the-top bada$$ery.

It is hard not to see the extremes of good and evil plus Jane’s incredible skills as a superhero tale. Finally, a Joker has been set against Jane’s Batman. This entry in the series is definitely the best so far. I would even recommend just reading this one rather than beginning with the first in the series. It is perfect for thriller fans. However, it would also work for superhero comic fans too. The Forbidden Door would make a great movie. Hopefully, it has already been optioned by someone. 5 stars!

Thanks to Bantam Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Crooked Staircase
May 9th, 2018 by diane92345

Cabals be caballing. In The Crooked Staircase, Jane Hawk is hunting more of the cabal that used brain nanobots to force her husband to kill himself.

In this series entry, Simon Yegg is the so-mean-it-is-unbelievable type of villain. He tortures his ex-wives up to, and including, gang rape to get them to give him more than 50% of their money during the divorce.  Simon is independently wealthy so it appears he tortures just for fun.  Jane is coming for him as she works up the org structure of the cabal. In an alternate story arc, two twins are being chased through Northern Orange County California by the brain-controlled police and a NSA agent. The twins are young authors who have an unbelievable ability to drive and hide in plain sight almost as well as Jane.

This, the third book in the series, is beginning to wear me out. I don’t see a light at the end of Jane’s tunnel. How can one woman take on an entire cabal of rich men and their brain-controlled subordinates? The Crooked Staircase reads like a movie thriller. It is easy to picture the scenes up on a darkened movie screen. However, the characters’ motivations are increasingly murky. I still sympathize with Jane but at some point before this book’s end, I would have just taken my son and run away to Uruguay or someplace.  Move on, Jane!

The second in the Jane Hawk series was recommended with 4 stars. However, this one left me cold.  3 stars! Mr. Koontz, I know this is a bestselling series. I can see by the teaser at the end that there will be a fourth Jane Hawk book. But please write some more of those excellent horror/paranormal novels like Watchers and the Odd Thomas series.

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Whispering Room
December 1st, 2017 by diane92345

Jane Hawk continues to hunt down her husband’s killer in this action-packed sequel to The Silent Corner.

Jane is searching for the top man at Far Horizons, David James Michael, to record his confession. His company is using brain nanobots to control people. Some are used as submissive sex slaves, others as guards but worse are the ones forced to commit suicide like Jane’s husband.

Cora was named teacher of the year before the headaches started. Why would she set her own car aflame and drive into a crowded hotel restaurant? The local sheriff, Luther Tillman, finds Cora’s cryptic notebooks and decides to investigate on his own.

The Whispering Room is a thrill ride that is much better than the previous book in the series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel. However, it shares so much of the plot of The Silent Corner, there is little point in reading the previous series entry after reading The Whispering Room.

Mr. Koontz’ rather flowery writing style seems better suited to his atmospheric horror novels. Here is an example of a single sentence in the book:

The bone-pale skeletonized limbs of winter-pasted trees, chokeberry and moosewood and gray poplars, and the storm-crusted boughs of evergreens more white than black, not green at all in the night, rendered a monochromatic scene in the spectral light of the snowfields.

While definitely evocative, it is a bit distracting in a thriller, where being fast-paced is a major goal.

However, I really enjoyed all the action and the comedic interludes within the novel. The details of the Los Angeles area were spot-on. I’m looking forward to more thrillers from Mr. Koontz (though I do hope he writes at least a few more horror novels as well). 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Bantam, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy.

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