The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz
This is the second in the Jane Hawk series and is a gripping thriller centered around the misuse of technology in our modern world. The first book was reviewed on Rebel Voice here:
Episode one introduced us to a dastardly plot hatched by a shady group known as the Arcadians. These wealthy and utterly ruthless play-makers are intent on creating a New World Order by utilizing advances in nanotechnology to program and control the minds of certain influential citizens. I know that right now you’re thinking, but isn’t that what the mainstream media do? And you’d be correct. However, if Koontz was to pen a novel about the MSM being used as a weapon of control and war, then he wouldn’t get very good book reviews. Koontz ain’t stupid, folks.
Unfortunately for the horrible Arcadians, they have failed to fully appreciate the determination and capabilities of rogue FBI agent, Jane Hawk who presents as a modern Boudica. Jane kicks ass.
The delightfully sexy Mrs Hawk’s deceased husband, Nick, was a former US marine who was selected for termination by the evil cabal. They used their bot-virus to force Nick to take his own life and that really pissed Jane off. Under threat of imminent death for both herself and her 5 year old son, Travis, Jane runs for it as the Arcadians go on the hunt.
In The Whispering Room, Jane has decided to go after the Arcadian big cheese, David James Michael. Firstly, however, she has to negotiate her way around his many minions. She is assisted in her pursuit by Sheriff Luther Tillman, a small town lawman investigating a suicide attack in which a mild-mannered neighbour kills herself and scores of others in a truck bomb.
Tillman knows that something is wrong with the entire scenario, and is relentless in his desire to uncover what drove a normal person into such an extreme act. The Sheriff only realizes just how huge the problem is when he randomly encounters Jane as they both visit the suspicious town of Iron Furnace. They are drawn to a school on the edge of town where all is not as it seems. The plot thickens.
There is gun-play and action galore in this story. The pace is fast as Jane hunts and is hunted in turn. She calls upon many dangerous criminals for help as she tries to keep one step ahead of the Arcadians who have agents and programmed drones everywhere. It’s a rollicking adventure, if a tad fantastic and convenient at times.
The character list is both impressive and consistent, although Jane does engage in a bit of squelchy moralizing at times when dealing with the bad guys. The settings are excellent as the action swings from one glorious part of the US to another. The tension is steady and, although the plot is far-fetched, the story is engaging. There are some minor faults in the story-line though, computers that Jane uses that could be traced and the search histories recovered. But, by and large, it’s a decent concoction.
Scarily, with the major advances in modern technology, such works of fiction today may eventually become works of fact tomorrow. It’s a horrible thought, but there it is. The Arcadians may not exist today, but other shady groups of power-brokers and government agents certainly do. The old adage about absolute power corrupting absolutely can be seen in operation across our world today, as the Socialist revolutions of the early 20th century fade, and the excess and ruthless ambitions of Capitalist corporate enterprise expands even further into our homes and our heads.
Many citizens would argue that we are already little more than drones, programmed by TV, movie and advert, whilst being corralled between lines that are moving closer with each generation. It’s something to think about.
It’s refreshing to read an allegorical tale by someone of Dean Koontz’ standing. Like many notable US authors, he expresses grave distrust for the Establishment including the Federal government. However, he too is conditioned to believe at least some of what the corporate media tell him.
In The Whispering Room, which takes its name from a program upgrade applied to some of the bio-droids (RV term), Koontz rails against the corruption of the big-hitters in the US, finding greater honour among the criminals who assist Jane Hawk than among those officials who run the nation.
Yet, he still makes a snide comment about the nations of Cuba, North Korea and Iran, the very countries so hated by the US administration that he appears to distrust in matters of domestic policy. Rebel Voice is willing to bet that Dean Koontz has never been to any of the aforementioned nations. So where does he get his info from concerning them? That’s right, from the very sources that he criticizes for their conduct in his own land.
The MSM is, of course, controlled by the financial elite who feed stories to the citizenry of the United States as suits their own twisted agendas. Truth is an irrelevant to such entities. Power and profit are all that matter. It’s funny how, sometimes, an author’s insight only stretches far enough to ensure that loyal readers – and self-proclaimed patriots – are not entirely offended by the story-line. Profits matter to novelists, and their agents and publishers too.
That said, The Whispering Room is a good read if you ignore such inconsistencies, which do not predominate in this novel. Jane Hawk is likeable, The villains are not. There is not a great deal of character depth, but then again, it’s not that kind of book. As the action progresses, we can clearly see how additional personalities are being added. This is Koontz laying the groundwork for future episodes as such characters can then be introduced as needed. It is plot-line with hooks that should coerce you to return.
This is a series and the third instalment is in production. It is to be called The Crooked Staircase. I know this because Dean Koontz has been programmed via nanotechnology to write it. I told him to. I’m an Arcadian and I will rule your world. You are now my slaves (cue evil laughter fading off into the ether).
Sult scale rating: 7 out of 10. High octane and good fun. It’s not Homeric, unless of course you mean the beer-swilling lunatic from Springfield. Homer’s not an Arcadian. Liza is.
– If you care, give it a share –