Tag: Dean Koontz

#BookBeginnings The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz

We have the newest Jane Hawk thriller, The Crooked Staircase by Dean Koontz for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-crooked-staircase

The Crooked Staircase* by Dean Koontz


(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  In the third novel of the series, Jane Hawk is still hunting the secret organization responsible for her husband’s death as well as the deaths countless other innocent victims. Previously an FBI agent, her pursuit of the villains has turned her former employers against her, so now she is running from both former friends and enemies. Will she be able to stop the man behind it all before her pursuers catch her?

First Sentence of The Crooked Staircase:

At seven o’clock on that night in March, during a thunderless but heavy rain pounding as loud as an orchestra of kettledrums, Sara Holdsteck finally left the offices of Paradise Real Estate, carrying her briefcase in her left hand, open purse slung over her left shoulder, right hand free for a cross-body draw of the gun in the purse.

Discussion:

What a lot of information in one sentence! We have the who, when, and where as well as a set up that leaves the reader wondering what is going to happen next.

Conventional wisdom says not to start a novel with a reference to the weather, but since this sentence includes so much else in addition to the rain, I think it works.

What do you think? Have you read any of Koontz’s Jane Hawk thrillers?

Hope you are having a wonderful Friday!

#BestsellerCode100: Writer’s Review of Two Novels by Dean Koontz

To do something a bit different, I decided to compare and contrast two thrillers by Dean Koontz from a writer’s perspective.  The Darkest Evening of the Year, published in 2007, is the most recent novel we’ve been reading for the Bestseller Code Challenge. The Whispering Room:  A Jane Hawk Novel is Koontz’s newest novel, published in 2O17.

This post contains spoilers.

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Amy Redwing has devoted her life to rescuing golden retrievers. When she puts herself in danger to save Nickie, she develops a special bond with the dog. But now someone is after Amy. Who is going to rescue whom?

The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel

(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Jane Hawk is an FBI agent who has uncovered evidence of an evil organization which is brainwashing innocent people and forcing them to carry out crimes. Things go wrong when she tries to expose their plot and she becomes a fugitive from the law.

Genre:

Although both of the novels are squarely in the thriller genre, The Darkest Evening could be considered to be a psychological thriller with paranormal elements, whereas The Whispering Room is a conspiracy thriller set in the near future, which causes it to cross into science fiction.

At the time Dean Koontz began writing, agents advised writers to stick to the rules of a certain genre, because booksellers organized novels by genre on the bookshelves. If the bookseller didn’t know where to put a book, it was less likely to sell well.

Koontz was willing to break those rules from the start. Now it is much more common to see novels that are a mix of genres, and I think that is because few books are actually organized on bookshelves any more. The online bookstores have changed how we buy books and also how we write them.

 

Characters:

Both novels feature a strong female protagonists. They both were married, but are no longer with their husbands. They’ve also had children. Amy’s child was killed, and Jane’s child is staying with friends to keep him out of harm’s way. Both protagonists have a male partner who assists them.

The novels have multiple antagonists, with different reasons for endangering the protagonists.  Koontz’s bad buys are really nasty. They will make you squirm in your seat and possibly give you nightmares.

Setting:

The Darkest Evening is set in California in the area around Newport Beach and Lake Elsinore. In The Whispering Room, Jane Hawk travels around the country. The setting isn’t particularly well developed in either novel. Instead there’s a general feeling that evil is lurking around every corner.

Discussion:

Shared themes:

Fire is a strong theme in both books. In The Darkest Evening one of the antagonists, Moongirl, regularly sets fires.  There is a gruesome scene in Chapter 12, where she and another antagonist, Harrow, burn down a house with innocent people inside. They ignite the fire using gasoline.

The Whispering Room starts with Cora Gundersun dreaming that she is walking through fire without burning. In Chapter 17, she loads her SUV with 15 cans of gasoline. After setting the gas on fire, she drives into the front of a hotel restaurant, where her vehicle explodes. It turns out she was an innocent person who had been brainwashed into committing a horrific crime.

Other similarities are more subtle. For example, in The Whispering Room, as Cora drives toward the hotel she sees a golden retriever on a leash. Of course, golden retrievers figure prominently in The Darkest Evening and are, in fact, Koontz’s favorite breed of dog.  I suspect that the dog is Koontz’s way of giving a little present to his loyal fans.

He also has a character named Luther in both books.

Little Mysteries:

Dean Koontz is a master at dropping in little mysteries to entice the reader to keep reading. For example, in an early scene Brian receives a threatening email that mentions “Piggie.” The reader wonders who sent it and who Piggie is. Clues are sprinkled until it is finally revealed what is going on. He is brilliant at building these kind of questions in the reader’s mind, making it impossible to put the book down once you’ve started.

I’ve been aware that Dean Koontz was a bestselling author for years, but hadn’t read any of his books until recently. Now I can understand why he has such a loyal following and I hope to read more of his books in the future.

Have you read The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 66. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002) – Discussion begins February 19, 2018
Mix of genres

#BestsellerCode100: A Reader’s Review of The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz is next up on our 100 Bestsellers List reading challenge.  Dean Koontz is a prolific writer, with 14 hardcover and 14 paperback novels making the number one position on the New York Times Bestseller List.  With that many books, I’m rather surprised that I have not read a single one. I guess all those flashy book covers and prominent positioning in books stores are wasted on me.

This post contains spoilers.

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Pleasant Surprise

 Since I have not read any of Koontz’s books, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up The Darkest Evening of the Year.  I was pleasantly surprised to be drawn in immediately by both the characters and the plot.  I loved the interplay of conversation between two of the main characters, Amy Redwing and Brian McCarthy.  They sounded like an old married couple, and yet further reading would reveal that they had only known each other a few months.  Their connection on multiple levels was immediately apparent and made several future scenes of the book all the more believable.

“I love October,” she said, looking away from the street.  “Don’t you love October?”

“This is still September.”

“I can love October in September.  September doesn’t care.”

“Watch where you’re going.”

“I love San Francisco, but it’s hundreds of miles away.”

“The way you’re driving, we’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“I’m a superb driver.  No accidents, no traffic citations.”

He said, “My entire life keeps flashing before my eyes.”

“You should make an appointment with an ophthalmologist.”

“Amy, please, don’t keep looking at me.”

“You look fine, sweetie.  Bed hair becomes you.”

“I man, watch the road.”

Koontz obviously has a flair for writing memorable characters.  The two main antagonists, Moongirl and Harrow, are as fascinating as they are evil. The only complaint I have is that I would have liked to learn more of Moongirl’s backstory.  We are given a glimpse into Harrow’s childhood and can see the influences that helped create the sociopath he is as an adult, but we don’t aren’t given the same depth of backstory with Moongirl.

Supernatural or Spiritual

There are aspects of the supernatural in The Darkest Hour of the Night; Brian’s marathon drawing session, the golden retriever Nickie, Amy’s phone call from the long-dead nun.  Or did the author intend the reader to see a more spiritual theme running through this novel?  There were many references to the sounds and shadows of angel wings and a scene of miraculous healing.  Even though this book was categorized as a psychological thriller, I found the spiritual aspect of it much more believable than our previous book, Cross Roads by Wm. Paul Young, which was considered Christian fiction.

Koontz’s love of dogs, specifically Golden Retrievers, shines throughout the novel like a warm candle glow, lighting the way in even the darkest hour.  His belief in the redemptive and healing powers of a dog’s love is one of the main themes of The Darkest Hour of the Night.  Nickie is much more than a dog in this novel – she’s one of the main characters and also the conduit for angels (and thus God) to eliminate evil and right the wrongs perpetrated by the evildoers.

 The Title

 We’ve been reading these books to discover why the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code chose them as bestsellers.  One of the variables looked at by the algorithm was book title.

Bestselling titles might also capture an event, and we can presume that if an event makes the title page it is not just a plot point but something that provides the story with a more fundamental structure and meaning. Accident is one such title…. Nothing will be the same before or after that moment, that day, that kiss, that accident.  The fate of the characters is to respond, to react, to reacclimatize.  But the characters are not the primary agent: the event is bigger than they are.

The Darkest Evening of The Year is an apt title for this bestseller. We know even before we begin to read that something dire is going to happen, that the darkest night isn’t referring to a lunar eclipse.  Every page, every theme, every plot device is propelling the characters forward on an inevitable trajectory to that darkest evening and we are along for the ride.  It’s definitely a ride worth taking.

 

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 66. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002) – Discussion begins February 19, 2018
Mix of genres

#BestsellerCode100: Number 67. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 list, 67. The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

This post does not contain spoilers.

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary: Amy Redwing has devoted her life to rescuing golden retrievers. When she puts herself in danger to save Nickie, she develops a special bond with the dog. But now someone is after Amy. Who is going to rescue whom?

Have you read The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz? Feel free to add a link to your review in the comments.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. Links in the list go to the landing page from this blog where the discussion starts. However, this is an open-ended challenge so feel free to jump in with any of the books at any time.

The next book is number 66. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002) – Discussion begins February 19, 2018
Mix of genres

#BookBeginnings The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Today we’re starting the next book in The Bestseller Code 100 challengeThe Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-darkest-evening

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:   Amy Redwing has devoted her life to rescuing golden retrievers. When she puts herself in danger to save Nickie, she develops a special bond with the dog. But now someone is after Amy. Who is going to rescue whom?

 

First Sentence of Chapter One:

Behind the wheel of the Ford Expedition, Amy Redwing drove as if she were immortal and therefore safe at any speed,

Discussion:

Dean Koontz is throwing us right into the action with this first sentence.

I was curious about the photograph on the book jacket of Dean Koontz and a golden retriever, so I went to his website. It turns out that he had a golden named Trixie. She died in 2007, the year this book came out. He says he couldn’t write for a month after he lost her.

Knowing this will probably change how I look at this book. Obviously this is going to be a very personal story, even though it is fiction.

Are you a Dean Koontz fan? Have you read this one?

 

Public domain photograph by Karen Arnold

#BookBeginnings The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel

Today we are featuring  The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel by Dean Koontz for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!

 

book-beginnings-button-hurwitz

(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Even though Dean Koontz is a super popular author, I haven’t read anything of his before. When I saw a review for his most recent publication, The Whispering Room: A Jane Hawk Novel, I had to pick up a copy.

Blurb:  Jane Hawk is an FBI agent who has uncovered evidence of an evil organization which is brainwashing innocent people and forcing them to carry out crimes. Things go wrong when she tries to expose their plot and she becomes a fugitive from the law.

First Sentence:

Cora Gunderson walked through seething fire without being burned, nor did her white dress burst into flames.

Discussion:

Does this sentence seem a bit awkward? I think it jolts because I’m expecting a parallel sentence structure, like:  “She walked through the seething fire without being burned and without her white dress bursting into flames.” I wonder why he doesn’t use the same verb form throughout?

The image is still compelling to me. I want to know how this is possible and what is going to happen.

What do you think?

Are you a Dean Koontz fan?

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