“The Forbidden Door”

door“The Forbidden Door” by Dean Koontz is part of the continuing Jane Hawk series. Every few pages, as part of the continuing storyline, paragraphs give new readers clues about the trauma that had befallen Jane and the entire Hawk family in the preceding months of chaos. Koontz opens in Texas, home of Ancel and Clare Hawk, and establishes an intense sense of place and atmosphere starting with the opening line.

“At first, the breeze was no more than a long sigh, breathing through the Texas high country as though expressing some sadness attendant to Nature herself.”

Reality sinks in for Ancel and Clare Hawk. Only a few months had passed since their son had died, and in that short time, their world has turned upside down. Their daughter-in-law Jane Hawk is in trouble. She had recently been indicted for crimes that she did not commit, and their grandson Travis, in danger as well, is in a place where he is not likely to be found. Ancel and Clare have something important to discuss, so they retreat to the redwood lawn chairs under the massive oak tree in the backyard.

Jane Hawk and her family have become embroiled in a complex, intricate, life threatening game. News reports are filled with lies about Jane, fake news at its most treacherous level. Jane is desperately trying to balance her life and her situation, “Maybe I’ve always belonged on the dark side of the law.”

Jane answers her disposable phone when it rings; it is Travis. “Mommy? Uncle Gavin and Aunt Jessie went for groceries, and they never came back.” Travis is alone, five years old and alone.

The plot continues with simultaneous events, described from alternating points of view to give readers insights into the events, conspiracy, determination, and evil of the various players. The complex scenarios are expertly intertwined, and the action happens almost simultaneously. The pace is nonstop, and proceeds at a dizzying, mind-numbing pace.

A surprising mutual friendship develops between Cornell Jasperson, and Travis Hawk. In addition, there is a new hero on the block, Laurie Longrin, a girl of about twelve. She knows good does not always triumph, not at first anyway. Bad people are clever because they spend their entire rotten lives scheming and conniving. She is not going to let “them” win.

Descriptions are colorful, and precise, a tribute to Koontz’s skill as a writer and storyteller. Every word filled with tension, promise, duplicity, and hope. There is not a wasted word, not an ambiguous sentence.

“The room is in darkness but for the drapery-filtered light from the window opposite the foot of the bed, a soft and spectral glow ribbed with thin shadows marking the folds of fabric, like an X-ray of some alien species with strange bone structure.”

I received a copy of “The Forbidden Door” from Dean Koontz, Random House Publishing Group, and NetGalley. Well-researched details make the story compelling: guns, geography, GPS tracking, Google Earth maps, cell phone monitoring, supercharged cars; every detail is authentic. Koontz is a writer with few equals, and this whole series is one of his best. I give it my highest recommendation