The Jane Hawk novels by Dean Koontz

Koontz is a careful and literate writer who knows how to create complex plots, maintain suspense, and decorate his scenes with weather and landscape imagery that synchronizes with the moods and plights of his characters.

The five-book series about a rogue FBI agent concluded with The Night Window, a book I’ve been looking forward to while patiently waiting for it to come out in paperback.

Hawk, who left the FBI after her husband’s death was ruled a suicide that she believed was murder, began a long trek to clear his name. Law enforcement is after her because they believe she’s operating off a “frontier justice model” and the people who killed her husband–a huge and secret group that’s slowly taking over the country–are after her. Everyone who’s after her is also after her child whom she has to keep hiding. By the time one gets to The Forbidden Door, it’s apparent that Hawk has nine lives and/or the skills of James Bond.

According to the Booklist starred review, “The spectacular finale to Jane’s story…will hit series fans with all the impact of a carefully calibrated hammer blow.”

Yes and no.

Had there not been so many co-opted law enforcement agencies, leaving nobody trustworthy to whom Hawk could turn over her evidence of the conspiracy, the book might have ended with a satisfying black-ops style gun battle after which the authorities take over and put the conspirators in jail. Hawk would then be interviewed on The View and other programs.

However, lacking that, the book–which still includes the nastiness of the bad guys in a tangled plot which look like lose-lose for Hawk–seems less explosive and interesting than the earlier books because there are few (if any) bad guy/Hawk confrontations. Hawk’s time is spent trying to ferret out who the conspirators are and how to expose them in a believable way.

The ending works because the how to tell the world about the conspiracy problem is aptly solved. Nonetheless, I felt a little let down because the focus became more about hacking into databases and less about kicking the shit out of the bad guys. And then, too, I kind of like Hawk and now she’s ridden off into the sunset forever.


Readers, do disparate books fracture your dreams?

A friend of mine on Facebook whose been watching H. G. Wells movies said that her dreams have turned into H. G. Wells movies.

thecityMy dreams never turn into the exact movies: more like some fractured mess of the movie where everyone’s crazy and all hope is lost.

The same thing happens to me with books. I read books most often before falling asleep. I’ve been cursed with “the ability” to see scenes of my own invention out of the book I’m reading if I ever doze off–or even rest my eyes.

My scenes seem real to me as though I’m propped up in bed still reading the book. Then the cat bothers me or I fluff up the pillow and realize I’ve been making it up “reading” something that’s not in the book, but that could be in the book. This happens every time without fail. When my wife finds me dozing, she thinks I’m asleep rather than writing new scenes for another author’s book.

There doesn’t seem to be a cure for this.

Dreams and reality get fractured when I’m reading more than one book at a time, say, Dean Koontz’ “The City” and Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings.”

So, there I am holding Kidd’s book about life on a plantation and suddenly Sarah and Hetty are walking down Fifth Avenue. That’s rather jarring since the plantation is in Charleston.

wingskiddThe nonsensical scenes that arise out of this jolt me awake faster than cats and twisted pillows.

The plot further thickens (AKA, gets messed up) when I’m working on multiple writing projects, say, one set in a swamp and one set in the mountains. Sometimes I open up the file and find myself planning to write a scene that belongs in the other book.

Fortunately, sentences like “the grizzly bear stood next to the Ponderosa Pine forest” tip me off that I’m not currently in the Florida swamp manuscript. If I see a cottonmouth moccasin, I assume I’m not in the Montana mountains.

I don’t know if readers have this trouble or if it’s just writers. I feel like I’m juggling realities like on of those old-time performers juggle bowling pinson the Johnny Carson show.

There are says when it’s best not to step outside because I don’t know if my front yard will be there or something our of a Stephen King book.


SunSinger4coverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy and magical realism which explains a lot. His fantasy, coming-of-age novel The Sun Singer is currently on sale on Amazon for 99 cents.