Thanks to NetGalley and Bantam for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: “I could be dead tomorrow. Or something worse than dead.”
Jane Hawk knows she may be living on borrowed time. But as long as she’s breathing, she’ll never cease her one-woman war against the terrifying conspiracy that threatens the freedom—-and free will—-of millions. Battling the strange epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane’s husband, and is escalating across the country, has made the rogue FBI agent a wanted fugitive, relentlessly hunted not only by the government but the secret cabal behind the plot. Deploying every resource their malign nexus of power and technology commands, Jane’s enemies are determined to see her dead…or make her wish she was.
Jane’s ruthless pursuers can’t stop her from drawing a bead on her prey: a cunning man with connections in high places, a twisted soul of unspeakable depths with an army of professional killers on call. Propelled by her righteous fury and implacable insistence on justice, Jane will make her way from Southern California to the snow-swept slopes of Lake Tahoe to confront head-on the lethal forces arrayed against her. But nothing can prepare her for the chilling truth that awaits her when she descends the crooked staircase to the dark and dreadful place where her long nightmare was born.
Like the first two books in Koontz’s Jane Hawk series, The Crooked Staircase is a wild ride from start to finish. For a quick recap: A sinister and secret organization calling themselves the “Techno Arcadians” are planning on reshaping society to their liking through the use of nanotechnology. They are implanting nanos into the brains of certain people who they feel, according to their computer’s algorithm, will “turn society in the wrong direction.” Once the nanos are in place the Arcadians use them to control the “adjusted” person. Some, they have commit suicide, usually taking other people with them. Others are enslaved and either forced into sexual slavery or made to serve the organization in various functions. Jane’s husband, a former soldier, was one of their victims and as Jane, an FBI agent, began investigating his suicide, she discovered the horrifying plot. Now she’s been publicly discredited and after some horrifying threats, has been forced to place her young son in hiding with close friends, she’s now determined to bring the Arcadians down.
Before reading this series, you have to accept that reality gets skewed at times, particularly in regards to Jane. While this isn’t a fantasy and she doesn’t possess superpowers, given the sheer number of people she’s going up against, there’s no way she wouldn’t have gotten caught by now. The Arcadians have infiltrated virtually every segment of society, including law enforcement, the government, and the media. While she’s had several close calls, she somehow manages to not only escape but also to take out a few Arcadians as well. But Jane is such a phenomenal character, you really don’t mind suspending disbelief. The secondary characters, whether they be allies or villains, are always interesting and well rounded. In this installment, I was surprised that there were a few moments where I actually felt sorry for the main antagonist because of his backstory.
As with the previous books, this ends with a cliffhanger, but it seemed a little too abrupt especially given that what happens hits so close to home for Jane and her son. At the end there is the option of reading the first few chapters of the next book, The Forbidden Door, which is due out in October, but I personally don’t like reading excerpts in advance, so I’m just going to have to suffer until October.
I highly recommend The Crooked Staircase to readers who love strong female characters and high octane thrillers. If you haven’t read the previous two books though you might wind up a bit muddled, so you should definitely check those out first.