I’ve been a long-time fan of horror/thriller writer Dean Koontz but parted ways with his writing around six years ago after his 2011 novel Frankenstein: The Dead Town. With few exceptions, the thrill of his ideas had finally been overpowered by the predictability of some heavily formulaic writing. If one more dog travelled with one more endlessly witty couple on the run, there would be road rage.
It was with some trepidation that I therefore put aside my recent prejudice to revisit the author for the first book of his new Jane Hawk series, The Silent Corner. Released earlier this year, with its sequel The Whispering Room out this month, the opening story of this ongoing thriller returned the excitement of my first Koontz discovery.
Koontz explains in his book that ‘the silent corner’ is the term used for “those who are truly off the grid and cannot be tracked by any technology, yet are able to move about freely and use the Internet.” This is the case for his novel’s hero, rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk.
Refreshing, original and far from formulaic, there’s not a clever dog in sight as Hawk goes dark to investigate an inexplicable spate of suicides that began, for her, with the death of her husband, and has struck numerous, seemingly well-balanced, high profile people around the nation. What begins as a means of coming to terms with her grief soon unveils a potentially global plot for domination.
Koontz’ writing is tight and the plot unfolds in terrifying layers as Hawk’s investigation delves deeper and deeper into the conspiracy. Blending science and mystery with action and family drama, it’s hard to predict where the story will go, delivering a thrilling opening to what promises to be a breath-taking new series. His characters are flawed individuals that run the gamut of emotions, and it’s their flaws that help keep the action tense.
The Whispering Room is the second volume of the story begun in The Silent Corner, as opposed to a separate story altogether. While new adventures await, Hawk’s ongoing drive to stop the unfolding human catastrophe remains at the heart of this series.
Having relegated Koontz’ novels to my own silent corner, he’s a welcome return to my bookshelves with this suspenseful thriller.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Harper Collins Australia
Released: June 2017