The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I rate this book 3.5 stars. Thank you to the author (Dean Koontz), publisher, and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy of The Silent Corner.
Let me first start by saying I have never read a Dean Koontz book before. I am not sure how I managed to do this after years of reading mysteries, working in a bookstore, and working as an intern for a literary agent, but somehow I never touched one of his books. This genre is one of my favorites, so when the opportunity to read a free ARC of Koontz’s arose, I jumped at it.
The premise of The Silent Corner intrigued me; a woman (Jane Hawk), who works for the CIA, discovers her husband committed suicide, and she is left to pick up the pieces. Her husband gave no indication that he was depressed or suicidal. His suicide note is also very odd, so, in what initially appears to be anger and denial over the death (a normal reaction for a grieving spouse), Jane begins to investigate suicide rates in the U.S.
Her research leads her to some shocking findings, ones that she cannot ignore as a CIA agent. In order to understand why suicide rates among seemingly normal, well-adjusted people are increasing, Jane goes on a journey to uncover a vast conspiracy involving biotech corporations and CEOs. She leaves her 7 year old son in the hands of U.S. military vets who she trusts, and takes off on a daring adventure with a bizarre, colorful cast of characters.
I loved the plot and the inventiveness of it, which deserves all of the 3.5 stars I gave this book. However, the characters really disappointed me. Speaking as a highly educated woman, I found Jane annoying and one-dimensional. There wasn’t any nuance to her, nor any second thoughts on her part about leaving her only child (and remaining family member) to pursue some conspiracy theory. I was also irritated by the author’s (and Jane’s) jabs at liberals, not just because I am a liberal, but because it seems untrue to her character. If she’s smart enough to work her way up the chain of command at the CIA, then I would expect her world to be less black and white. I truly felt like the author struggled to free himself from the constraints of his worldwide, and that unfortunately limited his ability to dive into the world of a deeply wounded and highly educated woman. I felt like his voice overpowered Jane’s, which was disappointing because the plot was so promising.
The world of this book is one where there is clearly good and evil, of right and wrong, and perhaps that’s what made me trudge through most of it. If anyone works as a political strategist or analyst for a year or so, they’ll quickly realize that this is not the world we inhabit; it is a world of many, many decades ago.