The Night Window by Dean Koontz
Jane Hawk is a wronged woman and she’s angry. The organisation that murdered her husband, threatened her little son and forced her from the FBI are currently hunting her. They do not know what they’ve let themselves in for. Don’t piss off an FBI mum, even a former one.
Jane’s son, Travis, is safe with pensioner Bernie Riggowitz and the OCD specialist, Cornell Jasperson. This leaves Jane free to continue her battle with the Arcadians, a shadowy group of tremendous power and influence hell-bent on global domination. Think SPECTRE with better computers. The cabal have developed a means of total mind control via the injection of nano-implants that weave a web over the human brain which can then be commanded by those with the know-how. Thousands of citizens across the US have been added to the horrific and secretive Hamlet List, a compilation of those individuals throughout society that the Arcadians believe will prove troublesome to their plans for planetary control. Some of the people on the list have been murdered by hired assassins. Others have been injected and commanded to kill themselves, Jane’s husband among them. But Jane knows too much about the Arcadians’ plans and the group have pulled out all the stops in their efforts to capture and/or kill her.
Tom Buckle is a promising film director. He has been invited to a meeting at the home of Wainwright Hollister, a ludicrously rich and arrogant megalomaniac. Tom thinks that his time has come, he’s going to get the break he deserves. Hollister is apparently keen to back a series of movies with Tom directing. At least that’s what he tells the ambitious young man. Unfortunately for Tom, his supposed benefactor is the head of the Arcadians and Tom’s name is on the Hamlet List. But Hollister does enjoy his fun. To this end he has arranged a hunt, with Tom as the prey. Let us tell you, it all comes as quite a shock to the man from LA. Mr Buckle finds himself kitted out in winter gear, given a handgun with one spare magazine, and dropped off in the remotest reaches of Hollister’s massive estate as the bloodthirsty billionaire prepares to chase him down and execute him.
Vikram Rangnekar is a former colleague of Jane’s from the FBI. He’s one of those IT specialists that all novels have nowadays (where the hell can Rebel Voice get one of those…?). Vikram is in love with Jane. He always has been, but realises that it will never go anywhere as Jane grieves sorely for her dead husband. Yet his loyalty to her is undying, which is more than can be said for all the other friends of Jane who keep toppling over as she tries to evade the Arcadians.
The bold Mr Rangnekar eventually manages what the Arcadians and FBI and Homeland and NSA couldn’t do; he finds Jane. Vikram has recently left the FBI, having made certain preparations prior to his hasty departure. He’s now also on the run and wants to ally himself with Jane against the group he has independently discovered; the Arcadians. Jane has found yet another strong, capable and true ally.
Within the Arcadians, who have people secreted in all levels of the US administration and its agencies, Charles Weatherwax and Mustafa al-Yamani are among the most trusted and determined. But this state of affairs only persists if they continue to be successful. Currently, their hunt for Jane Hawk is proving to be anything but. Now they have the added problem of Vikram Rangnekar and his undoubted skills. The two assassins are becoming frustrated, which means death and destruction for those who displease them. That’s pretty much everyone. They blaze a trail of bodies across the western US but each time hit a dead end. It’s when they eventually locate a cousin of Vikram’s that a light appears on their horizon of pain.
Travis Hawk is worried about his mum. He’s only six but has had to grow up fast after his Dad’s death. He has already evaded capture and certain death by Arcadian assassins but now is feeling only slightly safer. Boy is he wrong about that. Bobby Deacon is an opportunist. He robs homes, specifically those with something to steal. He will also rape and kill if the mood takes him. He would be a nihilist if not for the fact that he loves money. He seems to care about little else. That, and hurting those who have anything that he doesn’t. Bobby has a messed up kind of morality but it seems to work for him. When he discovers that the highly sought-after Travis Hawk resides in an inconspicuous house that he has targeted for robbery, he believes that all his Christmases have come at once. As Bobby prepares to become very, very rich, Travis, Reggie and Cornell sleep as if they have no troubles.
These are the three threads of this final instalment of the Jane Hawk saga. We have the hunt between Tom Buckle and Wainwright Hollister, one which goes on for a lot longer than Mr Hollister had intended. It spills out of the estate and into a local town where Arcadian drones, the human sort, take over in their hunt for the young film maker. There is the episode of Travis’s capture by Bobby Deacon and the frantic efforts of Cornell and Reggie to free him and keep him safe. And there are Jane and Vikram’s adventures as they try to secure the means by which they can finally expose the Arcadian conspiracy. Running through all of this is the interaction of the Arcadian assassins themselves who present as crazy one-dimensional people.
This is a very poor book. The Jane Hawk character is about as implausible as it gets. Converted cars of almost supernatural prowess. Preternatural people of unbelievable prowess. Human hunts in the USA. IT capabilities of incredible proportions and citizens who all support the outlaw and will risk their lives to help her. Holy Jesus but it’s so stretched as to resemble the face of the formerly alive Joan Rivers, and with about as much good sense.
Dean Koontz has written a lot of books. In the view of Rebel Voice they are hit and miss. OK, he has a reputation for supernatural stories, and for those of fantastical premise. But this series has stretched the bounds of his credibility. It also raises some serious questions, at least for this site, as to Koontz’ attitude towards Muslims.
As noted previously, one of the bad guys is Mustafa al-Yamani, a Muslim with an obsession on becoming one of the elite of the Hamptons. He is the only actual Muslim character represented in this novel. Vikram’s parents (Hindu) were killed in a bomb back in India by none other than Islamic terrorists. The boy-child Vikram was sent to the USA to be raised by his aunt and uncle. There is no reasonable nor accurate representation of Muslims in this book. We also get the following piece of dialogue;
“I don’t eat pork,” says Mustafa. “I never have.”
This piece of chatter isn’t necessarily offensive per se. Practising Muslims don’t eat pork. But in the context of how they are portrayed in this novel, the line could be regarded as an attack upon their failure to appreciate the flesh of a pig. Imagine if this had been attributed to the Jewish person. Would it have been regarded as anti-Semitic under current trends? Speaking of which, there are a number of Jews in this story and all are portrayed as very decent people. Of course, most Jews are very decent people, but that misses the point. In a novel where ethnic/religious/cultural minorities are presented, there is a need for balance lest the author be accused of bias and/or discrimination.
Norman and Dodie Stein, are a Jewish couple who become innocent victims of Mustafa al-Yamani. Bernie Riggowitz is a survivor of Auschwitz, as is the wife of the Rabbi who eventually takes him, Cornell and Travis in for protection. It appears that all Jewish people of a certain age have been in a concentration camp. It also appears that whilst Muslims are apparently bad, Jews are apparently all good. It’s incredibly simplistic and smacks of Islamophobic sentiment. It doesn’t help when random good guys are all former US service men who served in either Iraq, Afghanistan or both, where the enemy are inevitably Muslims. We even have Hindus portrayed heroically in this novel, but not Muslims. Hispanics get both good and bad treatment with one being an innocent victim, the others mostly violent Mexican gangsters.
At this juncture, let Rebel Voice state that this site is secular and has no religious preference, nor a distaste for any. Rebel Voice does oppose fundamentalism regardless of the faith it emanates from. With this in mind, this site has noticed that too many US authors fall into the old trope of portraying most Muslims as dangerous fanatics out to destroy America. The current Islamic population within the US stands at approximately 3.45 million. The vast majority of this group of people are law-abiding citizens and support their nation, if not their government. But then most Americans do not support their government either and only a minority actually vote for the incumbents. The Jewish population of the US is estimated as being between 5.5 – 6.5 million. In any honest appraisal, would the reader feel that Muslims get as fair a treatment within US literature and media as Jews? Perhaps both should be treated equally (good)?
Then we have Dean Koontz‘ mention of Hugo Chavez. One Hispanic criminal in the story, who claims to be named Hugo Chavez (false name in the plot), gives the author the sought-after chance to refer to Chavez as a “dead dictator” who “governed Venezuela into ruin.” This again conforms to mainstream US Establishment thinking as propagated by the movers and shakers of the financial elite. In point of fact, Chavez was freely elected by his people, twice. He governed well and greatly improved the conditions under which the most of the people of Venezuela lived. He shared the wealth from the oil resources, previously held by an elite within the country. This negatively affected US corporations and individuals bleeding the South American nation of its wealth. They didn’t like him. Chavez also provided free heating oil to the disadvantaged of the Bronx in New York. He was there for the poor of the US when their own governments ignored them. Additionally, he permitted a free press in Venezuela when the Capitalist media there called for his death, something that would never be tolerated in the USA.
It’s ironic that Koontz, a novelist known for attacking the Federal system, buys into the propaganda of that system. He rails about bureaucracy and government corruption yet parrots the official line on Chavez. He focuses on the terrible abuse of the Jews during the Holocaust but ignores the terrible abuse being meted out to the world of Islam by the same governmental system he appears to be disillusioned with. In short, in the view of Rebel Voice, Dean Koontz is a dumbass.
The Night Window rounds out the Jane Hawk series. The ending is definitely an anti-climax. It should have closed with a flourish, a grand finale, a spectacular conclusion. Instead it finishes with a plop. Jane Hawk is admirable in that she is a woman in a man’s world beating the men at their own game whilst retaining her maternal love for her child and her inherent decency. But she is implausible in so many aspects and, as such, proves detrimental to the idea of any woman taking on the misogynists of the world. This book was, and Dean Koontz is, a disappointment.
Sult scale rating: 3 out of 10. The marks given are for Koontz’ ability to write well even though his plots are so ridiculous and biased, and perhaps so discriminatory as to verge on hate propaganda. The Night Window is not the first time that Koontz has had a pop at Muslims. Sadly, it may not be his last either. Perhaps he needs to take some time off, travel, and expand his worldview rather than continually perpetuate a negative Islamic stereotype. He would also need to pull his square head from out of his ass about Latin America and the role that the CIA and its puppeteers have had there for many decades. Koontz is a proponent of a free America who happily spreads government propaganda when it suits him. This site asks, where is his credibility?