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The Crooked Staircase : Jane Hawk : Book 3 - Dean Koontz

The Crooked Staircase

Jane Hawk : Book 3

Hardcover Published: 14th June 2018
ISBN: 9780008291525
Number Of Pages: 512

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Jane Hawk faces the fight of her life

The No.1 New York Times bestseller and master of suspense Dean Koontz returns with a blockbuster new thriller featuring rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk.

I could be dead tomorrow. Or something worse than dead...

Rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk knows she's 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 mysterious epidemic of murder-suicides that claimed Jane's husband has made Jane a wanted fugitive, hunted relentlessly by the secret cabal behind the plot. They are determined to see her dead... or make her wish she was.

Propelled by her righteous fury, Jane will confront head-on the lethal forces arrayed against her. But nothing can prepare her for the chilling truth that awaits when she descends the crooked staircase to the dark and dreadful place where her long nightmare was born.

Industry Reviews

"A gripping read... a page-turner to dive into this summer." - The Washington Post

“An absorbing thriller full of fresh touches... Writing his unusual heroine, [Dean] Koontz keeps the pages alive with attitude as well as action... For [Jane] Hawk, who is as fearless as she is beautiful, no obstacle is too great, especially with the well-being of her hidden-away five-year-old son on her mind.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Spellbinding... Beautifully plotted and written with notable care and flare... The Hawk series... is among [Dean Koontz’s] best work.” - Booklist (starred review)

“Unrelenting... [Jane] rivets readers’ attention... Michael Crichton fans and thriller aficionados who appreciate a fierce female protagonist... should be urged to meet Jane Hawk.” - Library Journal

“With his unforgettable Jane Hawk books, master storyteller Koontz has really tapped into the amorphous feelings of anxiety and fear that much of the world is currently experiencing. In book three, the web of lies, treachery and death continues to creep ever closer to Jane; her iron determination to expose and destroy this growing evil burns ever brighter... Keep the lights on when reading this, the creepy factor is off the charts!” - RT Book Reviews

1

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. She boarded her Ford Explorer, threw back the dripping hood of her raincoat, and drove home by way of familiar suburban streets on which the foul weather had settled a strangeness, an apocalyptic gloom that matched her mood. Not for the first time in the past two years, she felt as if somewhere ahead of her, reality itself must be eroding, washing away, so that she might come to the crumbling edge of a precipice with nothing beyond but a lightless, bottomless abyss. Silver needles of rain pleated the darkness with mystery and threat. Any vehicle that followed her more than three blocks elicited her suspicion.

The Springfield Armory Champion .45 ACP was nestled in her open purse, which stood on her briefcase, within easy reach on the passenger seat. Originally she hadn’t wanted a weapon of such a high caliber, but she had eventually realized that nothing smaller would so reliably stop an assailant. She had spent many hours on a shooting range, learning to control the recoil.

She had once lived in a gated community with an around-the-clock security guard, in a paid-off twelve-thousand-square-foot residence with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Now she owned a house one-quarter that size, encumbered by a fat mortgage, in a neighborhood with no gate, no guard, no view. Starting with little money, by the age of forty she had built a modest fortune as a Southern California real-estate agent, broker, and canny investor—but most of it had been taken from her by the time she was forty-two.

At forty-four, though bitter, she was nonetheless grateful that she hadn’t been rendered penniless. Having clawed her way to the top once before, she’d been left with just enough assets to start the climb again. This time she would not make the mistake that had led to her ruin; she would not marry.

On the street where Sara lived, storm runoff overwhelmed the drains to form shallow lakes wherever the pavement swaled. Her Ford cast up wings of water in a false promise of magical flight. She slowed and swung into her driveway. Lights glowed in some windows, controlled by a smart-house program that, after nightfall and in her absence, created the illusion of occupancy and activity. She remoted the garage door and, while it rolled up on its tracks, put her open purse in her lap. She drove inside, the drumming of rain on the roof relenting as the welcome electronic shriek of the alarm system inspired a greater sense of safety than she had felt since setting out for work that morning.

She did not switch off the engine. With the doors still locked, she kept her left foot hard on the brake, her right poised over the accelerator, and she shifted into reverse. She used the remote control again and looked from one of the SUV’s side mirrors to the other, watching the big segmented door descend. If someone tried to slip in under it, the motion detector would sense the intruder and, as a safety measure, retract the door. If that happened, the instant the roll-up cleared the roof of the Explorer, she would take her foot off the brake, stomp the accelerator, and reverse at speed into the driveway, into the street.

With luck, she might be quick enough to run down whatever sonofabitch had come after her.

The bottom rail of the door met the concrete with a soft thud. She was alone in the garage.

She shifted the SUV into park, applied the emergency brake, switched off the engine, and got out. The last exhaust fumes threaded the air. The Ford shed rain on the concrete floor and ticked as the engine cooled.

After unlocking the connecting door to the house, she stepped into the laundry room, turned to the keypad, and entered the four-number code that disarmed the security system. At once she reset the alarm to the at-home mode, which activated only the sensors at the doors and windows, leaving dormant the interior motion detectors, allowing her to move freely through the residence.

She hung her raincoat on a wall hook, where it dripped onto the tile floor. Purse slung from her left shoulder, briefcase in her right hand, she opened the inner laundry-room door and went into the kitchen, realizing an instant too late that the air was redolent with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

A stranger with a pistol stood at the dinette table on which rested a mug of coffee and Sara’s copy of that morning’s Los Angeles Times with its banner headline jane hawk indicted for espionage, treason, murder. The barrel of the weapon was elongated by a silencer, the muzzle as dark and deep as a wormhole connecting this universe to another.

Sara halted, shocked not merely because her home had been violated in spite of all her precautions, but also because the intruder was a woman.

Twentysomething, with long black hair parted mid-forehead and tucked behind her ears, with eyes as black and direct as the muzzle of the gun, with no makeup or lipstick—and no need of any—wearing wire-rimmed glasses, dressed in a black sport coat and a white shirt and black jeans, she looked severe and yet beautiful and somehow unearthly, as if Death had undergone an image makeover and at long last revealed her true gender.

“I’m not here to hurt you,” the intruder said. “I just need some information. But first, put your purse on the counter, and don’t reach for the gun in it.”

Although Sara suspected that it would be foolish to hope to deceive this woman, she heard herself say, “Whatever you are, I’m not like you. I’m just a real-estate agent. I don’t have a gun.”

The stranger said, “Two years ago, you purchased a Springfield Armory Super Tuned Champion with a Novak low-mount fixed sight, polished extractor and ejector and feed ramp, and a King extended safety. You ordered it with an A1-style trigger precisely tuned to a four-pound pull, and you had the entire weapon carry-beveled, all its edges and corners rounded so that it won’t snag during a quick draw. You must have done a lot of research to come up with an order like that. And you must have spent many hours on a shooting range, learning to handle the piece, because then you applied for and received a concealed-carry permit.”

Sara put the purse on the counter.

“The briefcase, too,” the intruder directed. “Don’t even think of slinging it at me.”

When she did as told, Sara’s gaze fixed on a nearby drawer that held cutlery, including a chef’s French knife and a cleaver.

“Unless you’re a champion knife thrower,” the stranger said, “you’ll never be fast enough to use it. Didn’t you hear me say I don’t mean you any harm?”

Sara turned from the cutlery drawer. “Yeah, I heard. But I don’t believe it.”

The woman regarded her in silence for a moment and then said, “If you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll warm up to me. If you’re not that smart, this will get ugly when it doesn’t need to be. Sit down at the table.”

“What if I just walk out of here?”

“Then I’ll have to hurt you a little, after all. But you’ll have brought it on yourself.”

The intruder’s face—the strength of its features, the clarity of its lines, its refinement—was as purely Celtic as any face in Scotland or Ireland. But those eyes, so black that the pupils and irises were as one, seemed to belong in a different countenance. The contrast was somehow unsettling, as if the face might be a mask, its every expression unreliable, while the truth that otherwise might be read in her eyes remained secreted in their darkness.

Although Sara had promised herself that she would never again be intimidated by anyone, after a brief staring match, she sat where she’d been told to sit.

ISBN: 9780008291525
ISBN-10: 0008291527
Series: Jane Hawk Thriller
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 512
Published: 14th June 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.3 x 16.8  x 4.0
Weight (kg): 0.75

Dean Koontz

About the Author


When he was a senior in college, Dean Koontz won an Atlantic Monthly fiction competition and has been writing ever since. His books are published in 38 languages. He has sold 400,000,000 copies, a figure that currently increases by more than 17 million copies per year.

Twelve of his novels have risen to number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list (One Door Away From Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, and Relentless), making him one of only a dozen writers ever to have achieved that milestone. Fourteen of his books have risen to the number one position in paperback. His books have also been major bestsellers in countries as diverse as Japan and Sweden.

The New York Times has called his writing “psychologically complex, masterly and satisfying.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Koontz is, “at times lyrical without ever being naive or romantic. [He creates] a grotesque world, much like that of Flannery O’Conner or Walker Percy … scary, worthwhile reading.” Rolling Stone has hailed him as “America’s most popular suspense novelist.”

Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.

Dean Koontz lives with his wife, Gerda, and the enduring spirit of their golden retriever, Trixie, in southern California.

Visit Dean Koontz's Booktopia Author Page


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