Book Review: The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz

September 5, 2018 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz

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

The Forbidden Door by Dean Koontz
Genres: Thriller
Published by Bantam on October 9, 2018
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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Also by this author: The City, Saint Odd, The Silent Corner, The Whispering Room, The Crooked Staircase

Fourth in the Jane Hawk thriller series and revolving around a rogue FBI agent who intends to take down a cabal that is re-programming people and forcing the best to commit suicide.

This ARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Bantam for an honest review.

My Take

Whew…the tension. Oh, ya gotta know Jane’ll win, but at what cost. The bad guys have been successfully killing people for some time, and now they are after her in-laws AND her five-year-old son.

Too typical. The news media [in real life, too] slants the news to suit their viewpoint (I remember having it pounded into me in my journalism classes, to always be neutral, to present both sides. I guess I missed the class that said…except when…] Even worse, this media is controlled by the bad guys.

I do wonder how often government agencies do take people down for their own ends…?

Koontz has put a twist on Gottfrey’s character that is oddly enjoyable. Well, for a writer, anyway. Gottfrey believes the world is merely a play that the Unknown Playwright is writing as he goes, and it gives Gottfrey a unique perspective, believing as he does that he’s merely a marionette. Oh, yeah, Koontz is using third person global subjective point-of-view, which allows us access to any of the characters’ thoughts, emotions, actions, and encounters. Just so’s ya know.

“…it is far better to be one through whom the Unknown Playwright wields power rather than to be one on whom that power is brought to bear.”

It is interesting that so many of the Techno-Arcadian rank-and-file are in it for the power.

You do want to read this, if only for the sea change that occurs within Cornell. It is SO sweet. Ferrante, now this boy is disturbing in a totally unusual way. Ramsey. Well, Ramsey is a whole ‘nother story. And not one that the Arcadians want to read. As for Carter…he’s done a turnaround and is suddenly so lacking in his self-esteem. It may well be that he’s gotten introspective…but why anyone would want to emulate Dubose??

“I don’t want to live half dead anymore, please and thank you. All alive or all dead — either way is better.

Don’t get me wrong about granny. I love her attitude and her actions, but who is she and why??

Koontz is consistent in his using present tense at the start of chapters and in describing character thoughts. And I do not like it. It’s weird to jump from present to past tense. It almost reads like an info dump or descriptions for a screenplay.

It’s about love and free will with the series arc the heroine battling the bad guys, slowly acquiring her “army” with good versus bad. Each story has increased the pressure on Jane as well as increasing the horror we experience as we read of the Techno-Arcadians in action. It’s not a world I’d want to inhabit.

It’s terrifying, on the edge of your seat action that never stops with the scenes switching between three areas: Jane’s travels (and encounters), Gottfrey and his team as they hunt their prey, and the Borrega Valley, which switches between Travis and Cornell and the Arcadians. Anything is possible.

It’s also a world that too closely surrounds us. One group, intent on power, believing theirs is the only way, one with the perverse idea that controlling [and forcing to suicide] good, decent people who would work to make our world a better place for everyone and keep their free will intact. There is nothing about the Techno-Arcadians that’s decent, caring, or protective other than of themselves. They have no concern for any one but themselves.

The Story

Jane Hawk is proving too elusive for the Arcadians, and they have their own plans to break this elite agent who is all that stands between a free nation and its enslavement by a powerful secret society’s terrifying mind-control technology.

Take her son. Inject her in-laws. And she’ll lose her mind. Her focus.

It’s a manhunt that grows more vicious, more dangerous with every day, every hour, that passes. It’s a hunt that reveals much of the people involved, for good or evil.

A hunt that reveals new threats and new hopes.

The Characters

Jane Hawk was a top FBI agent, until she discovered the Techno-Arcadian plot. Now she’s the #1 most-wanted fugitive. Aliases include Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, Alice Liddell, and Leslie Anderson. Her five-year-old son, Travis, is in hiding, although his foster parents, Uncle Gavin and Aunt Jessie Washington, were gunned down in The Crooked Staircase, 3, and he’s alone except for Cornell Jasperson, a brilliant eccentric who suffers from Asperger’s and has been a hermit for years. Hannah is the pony Gavin got for Travis. Nick had been her beloved husband, until he committed suicide the previous November. Her father, Martin Duroc, is a famous pianist. And a murderer.

Luther Tillman, a.k.a., Wilson Ellington, had been a sheriff in Minnesota (The Whispering Room, 2). He and his remaining daughter, Jolie, fled after after he lost his wife, Rebecca, and older daughter, Twyla. Cora Gunderson had been a much-beloved and influential schoolteacher and friend of Tillman’s (The Whispering Room). Leland and Nadine Sacket are friends of Jane’s who operate the Sacket Home and School for orphaned children.

Bernie Riggowitz, a.k.a., Albert Rudolph Neary whose wife, “Penny“, died four years ago, is an eighty-one-year-old widower who loves to travel (The Whispering Room). Miriam had been his beloved wife. Nasia and Segev are Bernie’s daughter and son-in-law who live in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Worstead, Texas, is…
…where Ancel and Clare Hawk are ranchers, as well as Jane’s in-laws. The ranch manager, Juan Saba, and his wife, Marie, live on the ranch. Chase and Alexis Longrin run a stable; Chase had been best friends with Nick. Their children include Daphne, Artemis, and the cheeky, quick-thinking Laurie. Bodie Houston is the ranch manager. Ethan Stackpool is one of Laurie’s classmates…and her inspiration. Rolly Capshaw is their ancient lawyer.

Linwood Haney is the chief of the volunteer fire department; his wife, Corrine, is one of the volunteers. Bonnie Jean, a.k.a., Beejay, is Laurie’s age and a friend; Beejay wants to be a Marine sniper when she grows up.

Along the way, we meet Jim Lee Cassidy, a real estate agent in Killeen who is shocked, I tell you. Shocked. Sue Ann née Luckman McMaster works for the bus line. Dennis van Horn is the manager of the bus station. Lonnie John Bricker is the bus driver from Killeen. Mr Titus is head of security at the Houston bus terminal. Louis Calloway is the head of vehicle maintenance. Tucker Treadmont drives for Uber. Mary Lou Spencer is the station manager in Beaumont, Texas. Posey and Johnny Don Ackerman have a house in Conroe and in Florida. David, their son, is a doctor and was a friend of Nick’s; Kay and Lucy are David’s sisters. Ben is one of a group of six in Conroe.

Borrego Springs in Borrego Valley, California, is…
…where Cornell is secluded and intends to ride out the end of our known world. Shamira had been his drug-addled mother. Duke and Queenie had been Gavin and Jessie’s German shepherds.

Deputies Utley and Parkwood are not Arcadians. Yet.

The Arcadian team here is disguised as the Desert Flora Study Group, and includes Ahmed al-Adel, Malcolm Kingman, Zita Hernandez, Damon Ainsley, Harry Oliver, Taratucci, Solomon, Kirk Granger, and Walter Hackett.

They’ll “adjust” 50 people in the valley, including Robert (a history teacher) and Minette (an English teacher) Butterworth and Minette’s paraplegic sister, Glynis Gallworth, who works in the State Department in D.C. (Mace Mackey fancied himself as bad to the bone and had been Minette’s irresponsible boyfriend); Rooney Corrigan‘s family, including his son Ramsey; Henry Lorimar and his partner, Nelson Luft; Buckley Tolbert who used to be a generous and amusing man; and, Arlen Hosteen owns Valleywid Waste Management with access to some really big trucks.

Louise Atlee reports a burglary. Her husband is Walter, and Colter is their son. Bipin Gaitonde is married to Zoya and runs a convenience store. The Hammersmith Family RV Park is quite nice, and Holden Hammersmith is too big for anyone to seriously want to fight with him. His sixteen-year-old son, Sammy, is a chip off the old block. Larry is a Pomeranian that belongs to the granny with the broke-down truck.

Nogales, Arizona, is home base for Enrique “Ricky” de Soto of the “special” vehicles. Bullet Head and Skinny Mick have a lot to learn; too bad they won’t have time. Danny and Tio (Ricky’s old girlfriend, Maya, is his now) work for Ricky. Ferrante Escobar is Ricky’s nephew with a legit business in Indio, California, customizing vehicles with armor, etc. He also deals in illegal arms. Josefina is Ferrante’s mother and Ricky’s sister.

Judy White, a.k.a., Lois Jones, claims to be a Syrian refugee; her husband, Pete, a.k.a., John White, does a booming trade in forged IDs.

The Techno-Arcadians are…
…”visionaries” who intend to re-make the world to suit their wants. Dr. Bertold Shenneck invented the nanotech. His wife was Inga Shenneck. They’ve infiltrated the government and law enforcement at every level. They will “adjust” anyone, but especially those on the Hamlet List — people who excel and may become influential leaders. Egon Gottfrey is the leader of the team that will take down Ancel and Clare.

The rest of his team includes Paloma Sutherland, Sally Jones, the Hush Puppies-and-corduroy-suit-wearing Rupert Baldwin, the not-too-bright Vince Penn, Christopher Roberts (who doesn’t like to be sad), the psychotic Janis Dern (Francine is Janis’ older sister who influences her every thought), and Pedro and Alejandro Lobo who are twins. Ivan “Big Guy” Petro, a hit team all by himself, is based in Sacramento within the state government.

The Unknown Playwright is writing the settings and moves that Gottfrey makes. And why Gottfrey’s employers continue to use him, I do not know. Lord knows, his judgement is so impaired.

Sheila Draper-Cruxton is a court of appeals judge and the leader of Gottfrey’s cell. Special Agent Leon Fettwiler is not an Arcadian but is in the Houston area.

The Harvard-educated Bostonian Carter Jergen and his partner, the “pride of Crap County, West Virginia”, and a Princeton graduate, Radley Dubose, have been killing and “adjusting” people since The Silent Corner, 1. Aunt Dierdre is the person who issued Jergen his invitation.

Aspasia is the name for the brothels the Arcadians run. Really high-end with “adjusted”, compliant girls with empty minds and no sense of self. Gregory is a very successful entrepreneur who took Janis there one night. Rayshaws, named for Raymond Shaw from The Manchurian Candidate, are a male version with no thought but to do exactly as they’re told.

J.J. Crutchfield was a serial killer. Nathan Silverman had been Jane’s boss at the FBI (The Silent Corner, 1). The whispering room is like an internal Twitter account, a hive mind, that allows the adjusted to hear and “speak” to every other mind that’s been adjusted as well.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a black and orange color scheme with white text. It’s Jane looking back over her shoulder at us, her below-shoulder-length wavy hair swirling with the movement. There’s a more subtle movement in the closely spaced sound waves swooping across the entire graphic. At the top is an info blurb followed by the author’s name, the series information below and left, and the title is centered at the bottom.

The title is what happens when one of the “adjusted” goes through The Forbidden Door.

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