Book Review: The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

Posted June 20, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Book Review: The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz
Published by Bantam on May 8, 2018
Pages: 512
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: The City, Saint Odd, The Silent Corner, The Whispering Room, The Forbidden Door, The Night Window

Third in the Jane Hawk political thriller series and revolving around a righteous FBI agent framed and pursued.

My Take

Bloody HELL! Frickin’ Koontz has left me hanging again. I had the hardest time picking The Crooked Staircase up, if only because he scares me. It gets worse, for the scenario he has laid out is too possible. Technology is rapidly advancing, and there are too many jerks out there who think they’re so much better than us.

Too easy to conceal. Too easy to control. It could be any one of us targeted, like the Shukla twins. Jesus. I do like the twins. They’re resourceful and good. And it makes me cry.

I’m feeling awfully paranoid with GPS trackers in phones and cars, backdoors into security providers, banks, credit card institutions, utilities, and street cams. I’m starting to think cash under the mattress might be a good idea! At the very least, I’m re-working my passwords! And, and, I want a jammer like Roarke’s!!

The point Koontz is making is that it’s all a lie. The news is full of lies on both sides, the conservatives and the liberals. No one. NO one is telling the truth. Law enforcement and government can go anywhere, do anything they please. And that’s not even the scariest part of it all. Koontz also notes our lack of connection with others, one he points out in various ways throughout the story.

I was reading in the news how suicide rates have soared lately. Then I read Koontz, where suicide rates of happy people are also soaring. *shudder* It certainly makes me wonder…

It’s weird to read, from a technical standpoint. When Koontz is informing us of background, he uses a present tense that jerks me up with how stilted it sounds, and when he goes back to the action, he uses past tense in a third person global subjective point-of-view, which allows us to hear the thoughts and feelings of several core characters as well as view the action happening around them.

Let me tell you, there is so much action, and Koontz kept breaking it up right at the good parts with Jane’s “adventures”, Booth’s and Carter and Dubose’s actions, the Washingtons, a dab of Gilberto, and of course, Travis at the end. Just thinking about it, has my heart a’thumpin’.

I’m not sure if I’m grateful that October 9th isn’t so far away, or terrified that it isn’t far enough for The Forbidden Door.

The Story

It was Nick’s suicide and the threat of rape and sexual slavery for Travis that galvanized Jane into her one-woman war against this terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom — and free will — of millions.

Over 16,000 people have been injected. And that’s just the start. Some will be drones to carry out the orders that are programmed for them, some will be assassins, some will commit suicide when ordered, and some are so dehumanized that they have no thoughts of their own. Each is necessary in this projected Utopia to ensure it arrives. The Arcadians can’t have do-gooders running about loose, infecting people with their ideas of goodness and compassion.

Now Jane’s a wanted fugitive, relentlessly hunted not only by the government but by the secret cabal behind the plot. Deploying every resource their malign nexus of power and technology commands, Jane’s enemies are determined to see her dead … or make her wish she was.

But Jane has her own set of skills and is intent on taking the Techno Arcadians down, aiming for one man in particular.

The Characters

Jane Hawk is a discredited, rogue FBI agent, intent on taking down the people who destroy anyone who interfere with their plans. Five-year-old Travis is her son, all that’s left of her beloved husband, Nick. Clare and Ancel Hawk are Nick’s rancher parents in Texas. Her father, a brilliant concert pianist, murdered her mother nineteen years ago.

Gavin, now a writer, and Jessica Washington are loyal friends and ex-Army who are hiding Travis. Hannah is the Exmoor pony Gavin got for Travis; Samson is Gavin’s stallion. Duke and Queenie are their alert German shepherds. Orlando Gibbons and Elizabeth Haffner are the provided IDs.

Borrego, California, is…
…where Cornell Jasperson, a millionaire with issues and Gavin’s bastard cousin, lives out in the desert. Shamira was his drug-addicted prostitute mother. Oren Luckman is the manager of the market in Borrego. Foursquare is the watch captain at the substation. Fennel Martin is the mechanic who sold the Honda. Ginger is Fennel’s girlfriend. Norbert Gossage is one of Pastor Milo‘s parishioners.

Gilberto Mendez was a Marine buddy of Nick’s, semper fi, who owns a funeral parlor. His wife, Carmella, is pregnant with their fourth child. Hector is his older brother; Manuel is Hector’s seventeen-year-old son.

Tanuja and Sanjay Shukla are fraternal twins and orphans who escaped their larcenous aunt and uncle. Both are writers; she writes magical realism and her recent book, Alecto Rising, speaks to people through Emma Dodge, a stubborn personal shopper, who is the primary character in it. Subhadra is her newest character. Sanjay prefers noir. Their parents were Hindus, killed when their plane was shot down. Durga is the Goddess Mother of the Hindu pantheon with different aspects that include Kali and Chandi. Aunt Ashima and Uncle Burt Chatterjee took them in, in every way. Their conspirators were Justin Vogt, an attorney who advised them, and his wife, Eleanor, and Mohammed Waziri, an accountant, and his wife, Iffat.

Lincoln Crossley is a deputy with the sheriff’s department and the Shuklas’ neighbor. Kendra is his wife, and she works as a bailiff at the county courthouse. Their son, Jeff, is sixteen, and they have a Labrador retriever named Gustav.

A real estate agent, Sara Holdsteck is battling her way back from her divorce. Mary Wyatt had been Sara’s attorney, who dropped her. Tuong Phan is Vietnamese-American with a sly wit that I love. He works as a clerk at a QuickMart. Ivan Zabotin owns the QuickMart and three others. The Reverend Gordon M. Gordon of the Mission of Light Church is too trusting and not quick enough. His wife, Majorie, passed two years ago. Vikram Rangnekar is a white-hat hacker at the FBI, who showed Jane his backdoors.

The Techno Arcadians claim…
…to want Utopia. Yeah, as long as they’re the ones in power. The Hamlet list is a computer-generated list of people whom the Arcadians believe will steer civilization in the wrong direction. Bertold Shenneck invented the tech; DJ Michael was a billionaire who had founded the movement and invested in it (The Whispering Room, 2). Harry Lime delivers trucks. J-Spotter is the multi-agency task force of Arcadians formed to find Jane.

The snooty Carter Jergen and the brutish Radley Dubose are partners with credentials from the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, the IRS, the EPA, you name it. They actually work for the cabal and truly enjoy their work. Carlton is Carter’s buttoned-up, stuffy father. Carney is Dubose’s ne’er-do-well brother.

Booth Hendrickson is high up with the Department of Justice with a lot of contacts and power. It’s another “Jane” whose car Booth jacks. I like her too! Stafford Eugene Hendrickson had been his father, murdered in the jungle.

Simon Yegg has been married and divorced four times, and he’s doing very well. Petra Quist is Simon’s current live-in hottie. Booth is his half-brother, and they have the same mother: Anabel Claridge, the very first investor. The boys learned everything they believe from her. She has a place in Lake Tahoe which is cared for by Loyal Garvin, the live-in groundskeeper, and his wife, Lilith, is the housekeeper.

Aspasia is…
…a very elite whorehouse which employs girls who have been injected with the nanotech. It ensures they’ll do whatever you want. LuLing is one of them.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a stylized background of raying dark purple lines against a slightly lighter purple, an intensity of blue around Jane’s head and the light source that illuminates the edges of those stairs — those crooked steps. Jane stands at the bottom of those stairs, hip cocked, wavy blonde hair loose around her head, wearing a black leather jacket and top with blue jeans. An info blurb begins the text across Jane’s upper chest, immediately followed by an embossed white for the author’s name. Below that is the embossed pale blue title, and below that is the series information at the very bottom in white.

The title is where the idea was born, The Crooked Staircase of horrors.

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3 responses to “Book Review: The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

    • The whole series (all 3 of ’em, *grin*) are terrifying to read. You’ll either plough through it as fast as you can, or you’ll be very tentative about diving in!!

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