The Crooked Staircase * Dean Koontz

I must say I was really excited to pick up Dean Koontz again. I didn’t realize it was the third novel in a series following Jane Hawk, superwoman 🙂

The 4.09 Goodreads rating seemed promising, the synopsis ticked all the boxes and I turned on the audiobook on my daily commute to work.


76 minutes in I know what’s going on, who’s who and what’s going to happen for the rest of the book. Jane Hawk has appeared in two other books before this which I haven’t read – The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room and she’s on the run again.

 “I could be dead tomorrow. Or something worse than dead.”

The sense of urgency is real. She’s doing all the things she can to stay alive, a one-woman against a conspiracy (very common novel themes, especially for the likes of Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler). This time she’s trying to figure out what causes a wave of murder-suicides across the country.

She’s relentlessly hunted not only by the government but by the secret cabal behind the plot. They are ruthless, with infinite resources and unbelievably evil.

Jane will travel from Southern California to Lake Tahoe for a head-on confrontation with the forces rallied against her.

“None of us ever has more than this moment. Tomorrow becomes today, today becomes yesterday. The best I can do for my boy is give him enough todays that he can make a past for himself that will have had some meaning in it.”

I was borderline bored half way through the book. The same thing over and over again. It’s a thriller, all right, but a good thriller would present some character development (missing here probably due to the previous 2 books), some exciting bad guys (not just some corporations and covenants) and it’s got less of paranormal activity than actual paranoia.

What I saw happening (and was later confirmed by skipping a few chapters ahead) was torture, sex sclavery, running for your life extended in every chapter. The bad guys are really bad and they keep one-upping strong female lead Jane with more torture and more drama. They rape and torture people and there is child abuse in there too. So if you have a weak stomach, don’t read.

The book is trying to convey the felling of hopelessness in the face of a strong opponent that does not seem to let any time to breathe.  Koontz capitalizes on our fear of losing control of our true identities and succumbing to another’s whims and agendas. The body count rises in heartbreaking ways right along with the intensity.

“Jane stood in the dark, and the dark stood in her, the latter being the darkness of both her past actions and lethal potential.”

Good Bits:

  • The Arcadians (secret society) create a drug with the aim of controlling the population, eliminate troublemakers and create a society of peace.
  • Drug uses nano-tech and trying to assert mind-control via a group of words
  • They push people to suicide who don’t fit their plans
  • Cornell’s character was fascinating, as was Jessie and Gavin. Five-year-old Travis was adorable and he will wiggle his way into your heart.

“There is not much news in the news anymore. The lies they tell don’t leave a lot of time for the facts about anything.”

Bad Bits:

  • cliffhanger ending after 640 pages.
  • the bad cop duo was boring and had repeating dialogue towards the end
  • ultra-evil is not attractive anymore
  • Jane asks for help a lot of times but it gets cringey
  • weapons are described in too greater detail, pulling away from the plot. Nobody cares about magazine capacity.
  • not very credible. How on Earth did the bad guys keep on finding Jane?
  • Overly descriptive and peppered with adjectives:
    • “Like most modern art, they interested her no more than did the wind-tangled rain-compacted sun-bleached trash that time accumulated in vomitous-looking masses along California’s cracked and potholed highways, as the once-golden state stewed in government corruption on its way to bankruptcy.”

Final outcome: Predictable. Violent. Angsty. 2/5

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