“The Crooked Staircase”

staircase“The Crooked Staircase” by Dean Koontz is the third in the Jane Hawk series. It is not necessary to have read the previous two books to enjoy this one, but new readers will have some catching up to do with the “conspiracy” that compels Jane to action.

All is not well, even in the world of Techno Arcadians, the very very bad guys who are intent on taking over the world. Jane Hawk has taken them on in this fight, and she is angry. “You’re right about that,” Jane agreed. “Some days I think I don’t have nearly enough of it.” She has undertaken this fight primarily to restore her husband’s reputation and to save the life of her child. Nevertheless, the headline of the Los Angeles Times screams JANE HAWK INDICTED FOR ESPIONAGE, TREASON, MURDER.

Chapters are written in alternating points of view good guys, bad guys, the very bad guys, and those who change sides. This provides readers with an overview of the action, expands the full concept of events, and enhances the tension in all the storylines at once.

Koontz introduces readers to Tanuja Shukla in a shout out to the power of writers and the influence of books. “Her novel will inspire the worst ideas among impressionable younger generations. The computer identifies it as potentially a dangerous iconic work.” She and her twin brother Sanjay rise to the top of the “Hamlet List.”

Koontz paints word pictures that are vivid beyond those of any other. Words are a reason to read, and even the simplest of actions is described in vivid multisensory details. “The water was hot, and from her lathered hands rose the rich orange fragrance of the soap.” Even the weather reflects the tone. ”The dreary rain like a forewarning of despair to come, the claustrophobic closed-coffin darkness of the night, the half-seen python-muscled river in its serpentine flow to the right of them like some pagan god of fate whose forward slithery rush compelled them to follow, heedless of all consequences.”

Jane continues to drive the plot, and she needs a heart hardened to those who preyed on others, who recognize no right to life except their own, for whom power was no less essential than air and water. She wonders if she can really do what she intended to do. In the end, with the coming of the morning sun, Jane and readers must face the wonder and the terror of it all. Will sunshine, optimism, and love conquer? Next ….

I received a copy of “The Crooked Staircase” from Dean Koontz, Bantam Books, and NetGalley. I found it compelling, frightening, and at the same time hopeful that love and Jane will triumph, perhaps in the next book. I cannot wait.