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The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel

Review

The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel

"You're dead already... They'll all know about you in the whispering room."

At the point in the story when our protagonist, Jane Hawk, hears this comment, she has no idea what it means or what the whispering room is. As she pries deeper and deeper, she may wish she had remained ignorant to this frightening truth.

Author Dean Koontz is back again with his latest serial character, rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk, who was introduced in THE SILENT CORNER. When Jane's husband commits suicide after exhibiting no signs of depression or mental disorder, she begins to dig deeper rather than be crippled with grief. She uncovers what appears to be a string of unexpected suicides happening throughout the country. All of these senseless deaths seemingly flew below the radar. That is, until Jane took an interest.

As I had mentioned in my review, the achievement Koontz made with THE SILENT CORNER was immensely impressive. This is an author who has been writing since the late ’60s, releasing books under multiple pseudonyms and spanning many different genres. However, when Koontz had a near-death experience, I found that the style of his writing had significantly changed. I'm not saying he lost his edge, but his work did soften considerably, with the focus being far more spiritual than supernatural. This is why the emergence of Jane Hawk was so amazing.

"THE WHISPERING ROOM, much like its predecessor, is a deeply layered, satisfying thriller that is character-driven and nearly impossible to put down."

Koontz had never really conquered the straight thriller before. Most of his novels had a supernatural or science fiction theme running through them. Longtime readers of his work have gotten used to the recurring themes of his old novels --- magical golden retrievers, mysterious children with supernatural gifts, and male protagonists with a hidden past --- to name a few. Now, with this current series, his fans are treated to Dean Koontz the thriller writer --- and he is a darn good one. THE WHISPERING ROOM, much like its predecessor, is a deeply layered, satisfying thriller that is character-driven and nearly impossible to put down.

What makes Jane’s plight so real for her is that she cannot be paranoid enough. In fact, she urges herself at one point to “get her paranoid on.” To begin with, THE WHISPERING ROOM introduces us to a new character who plays a large role in the story. Cora Gundersun is a decorated schoolteacher from Minnesota. The Cora we see at the start of the novel seems confused, and not just due to the mix of prescription meds she is on to fight her chronic headaches. When she is at the center of a horrific event, it is obvious that her actions were not her own. If you start making comparisons to Richard Condon's classic novel, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, you would not be too far off. In fact, the term “Manchurian” is a part of the mantra that elicits control over another person --- a modern form of brainwashing.

Jane is targeting the cabal of rich, powerful and influential men who are behind the series of suicide deaths revealed in THE SILENT CORNER. When she finds that those deaths were just the tip of the iceberg in this group’s master plan, both she and the reader will shudder at the thought of where this nightmarish agenda may be heading. Jane is eventually led to a small Kentucky town called Iron Furnace. This place is so strange that it immediately called to mind the recent series of novels (and ill-fated TV series) Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch. The children of the town all seem to be missing and the adults are quite strange. It is like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE met with the modern science of nanotechnology to take mind control to the ultimate level.

Jane gets the answers to some of her questions and a small amount of satisfying revenge. However, many of the loose ends are left untied, and there is still much more to uncover. It is this fact that lends itself to the preview at the end of the book revealing the first few chapters of the next Jane Hawk novel, THE CROOKED STAIRCASE. Readers will find out the meaning behind the whispering room once the secrets of Iron Furnace are revealed. It appears that now we will have to take a walk on a strange staircase to unleash some of the additional secrets that drive this series. All in all, this is a solid novel grounded in many real-world, current issues that never loses sight of the classic political/sci-fi/thriller elements that make it so much fun to read.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 21, 2017

The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel
by Dean Koontz

  • Publication Date: November 21, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0345546806
  • ISBN-13: 9780345546807