Science Fiction/Thriller

The Forbidden Door

Written By: Dean Koontz

Published By: Ballentine Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


               I’ve read a great many Dean Koontz novels over the years, but most of them were thrillers that contained elements of the supernatural or horror.  Then I was introduced to the Jane Hawk series with The Crooked Staircase.  Even though it was the third novel in the series, I found I could follow the story without having read the others (though I eventually plan to do so) and I was hooked.  That’s why when the opportunity came to read the next novel in the series, The Forbidden Door, I jumped on the chance.

               For those who don’t know the Jane Hawk series, Jane Hawk was a top FBI agent, until the night that her husband Nick committed suicide.  Never seeing any signs that he might do so, Jane investigates his death and discovers it was murder – that someone had taken over Nick’s mind and made him kill himself.  And he is not the only one.  Apparently, an organization called the Arcadians, has found a way to use nanobots to create a neural net over individuals’ brains and control their actions.  The Arcadians are bent on ruling the world and Jane has become the nation’s most wanted fugitive, doing everything she can to stop them.

               When we last checked in with Jane, she had taken down a top-ranking Arcadian, but barely escaped with her life.  Now she has learned that the people she entrusted with the care of her son, Travis, may very well be dead.  Travis is safe for now, hiding in a library/bunker with an eccentric, autistic billionaire and the two German Shepherds belonging to his former protectors.  But the Arcadians are circling and Jane knows it’s only a matter of time before they find him.  Can she gather enough resources together to safely extract her son from his hiding place before the Arcadians can get a hold of him?

               Just as with the first Jane Hawk book I read, I was totally absorbed by the edge of your seat thriller of The Forbidden Door.  The various characters that Jane surrounds herself with to get the job done are rather interesting - each with their own eccentricities and quirks, but totally loyal in every way.  Though some of her allies aren’t exactly on the right side of the law, each has an interesting code of honor they adhere to.  On the flip side are the fanatical Arcadians, who will do anything they can to capture their prey and reshape America into the country they want to control.  But if you look at each individual Arcadian, they all have some sort of dysfunction in their history – one lived under the threat of incest and bullying, another turned to nihilism to survive in a world he doesn’t understand, another lived in a prostitute’s den as a child – not a single Arcadian we meet along the way doesn’t have some sort of sick, sadistic side to them and some past they are trying to run away from.

               The action and intensity of Jane and Travis Hawk’s situation is riveting enough, but in this tale, Dean Koontz decides to give us just a little bit more.  He decides that its time for the Arcadians to come after Nick Hawk’s parents, who aren’t playing the game and still support their daughter-in-law.  Thus, an equally mysterious and thrilling side story develops in which the Arcadians attempt to chase down Jane’s rather crafty in-laws.  Another additional thriller aspect: for some reason, one of the individuals injected with the nanobot control device in an effort to find Travis has gone off the deep end, becoming an out of control monstrous killer.  Worse yet, the hive mind of the controlled is transferring what happened to him to the rest of the folks they recently injected.  An interesting spin to the plot!

               Dean Koontz has always had a way of creating characters we can relate to and root for, but one-shots are easy.  When you create a series, you have to make sure the reader is captivated and doesn’t get tired of the trials and tribulations of the main character.  Trust me, there was no getting bored with Jane Hawk in this series.  I was utterly mesmerized by The Forbidden Door, loathe to put it down for mundane things like sleep and work.  I even kept reading through meals, rooting for Jane and her allies against the Arcadians, but finding the Arcadians just as fascinating as the good guys.  Dean Koontz is one hellluva writer – this, I already knew – but his Jane Hawk series is like nothing I have ever read from him before.  It makes me want to go back and read the Jane Hawk novels I missed and it definitely makes me want to get my hands on the next book in the series, The Night Window.  This series is a must read for any fans of Dean Koontz’ writing!


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