Dean Koontz is back with The Whispering Room — the second installment of his thrilling new Jane Hawk series.
The book finds Jane a most wanted fugitive out for revenge. In the wake of her husband’s inexplicable suicide, she picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But the ruthless people bent on hijacking America’s future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue — and become the nation’s top fugitive — in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.
The Whispering Room, which hits bookstores Nov. 21, marks a moody, suspenseful follow-up for the best-selling author, and EW can exclusively preview the book to give fans a taste of what’s in store. Check out the trailer above, an exciting tease that should get any viewer’s heart racing. And below, you can read an excerpt of The Whispering Room’s second chapter.
Excerpt from ‘The Whispering Room,’ by Dean Koontz
On a Sunday afternoon in March, in self-defense and with great anguish, Jane Hawk had killed a dear friend and mentor.
Three days later, on a Wednesday, when the evening was diamonded with stars that even the great upwash of lights in the San Gabriel Valley, northeast of Los Angeles, could not entirely rinse from the sky, she came on foot to a house that she had scouted earlier by car. She carried a large tote bag with incriminating contents. In a shoulder rig under her sport coat hung a stolen Colt .45 ACP pistol rebuilt by one of the country’s finest custom-handgun shops.
The residential neighborhood was calm in this age of chaos, quiet in a time characterized by clamor. California pepper trees whispered and palm fronds softly rustled in a breeze fragrant with jasmine. The breeze was also threaded through with the malodor of decomposition that issued from one gutter drain and then another, perhaps from the bodies of poisoned tree rats that earlier had fled the sunlight to die in the dark.
A for-sale sign in the front yard of the target house, grass in need of mowing, a Realtor’s key safe fixed to the front-door handle, and closed draperies suggested that the place must be vacant. The security system most likely wasn’t operational, because nothing remained in the residence to steal and because an alarm would have complicated the task of showing the property to prospective buyers.
Behind the house, the patio lacked furniture. Breathing out the faint scent of chlorine, black water rippled in the swimming pool, a mirror to the waning moon.
A stuccoed property wall and Indian laurels screened the back of the house from the neighbors. Even in daylight, she would not have been seen.
With a black-market LockAid lock-release gun legally sold only to law-enforcement agencies, Jane defeated the deadbolt on the back door. She returned the device to the tote and opened the door and stood listening to the lightless kitchen, to the rooms beyond.
Convinced that her assessment of the house must be correct, she crossed the threshold, closed the door behind her, and re-engaged the deadbolt. From the tote, she fished out an LED flashlight with two settings, clicked it to the dimmest beam, and surveyed a stylish kitchen with glossy white cabinets, black granite countertops, and stainless-steel appliances. No cooking utensils were in sight. No designer china waited to be admired on the shelves of those few upper cabinets that featured display windows.
She passed through spacious rooms as dark as closed caskets and devoid of furniture. Although draperies were drawn over the windows, she kept the flashlight on low beam, directing it only at the floor.
She stayed close to the wall, where the stair treads were less likely to creak, but they still announced her as she ascended.
Although she wanted the front of the house, she toured the entire second floor to be certain she was alone. This was an upper-middle-class home in a desirable neighborhood, each bedroom with its private bath, though the chill in its vacant chambers gave rise in Jane to a presentiment of suburban decline and societal decay.
Or perhaps the dark, cold rooms were not what fostered this apprehension. In fact, a persistent foreboding had been with her for nearly a week, since she had learned what some of the most powerful people in this new world of technological wonders were planning for their fellow citizens.
She put her tote bag down by a window in a front bedroom and clicked off the flashlight and parted the draperies. She studied not the house directly across the street but the one next door to it, a fine example of Craftsman architecture.
Lawrence Hannafin lived at that address, a widower since the previous March. He and his late wife never had children. Though only forty-eight — twenty-one years older than Jane — Hannafin was likely to be alone.
She didn’t know if he might be an ally in waiting. More likely, he would be a coward with no convictions, who would shrink from the challenge she intended to put before him. Cowardice was the default position of the times.
She hoped that Hannafin wouldn’t become an enemy.
For seven years, she had been an FBI agent with the Critical Incident Response Group, most often assigned to cases involving Behavioral Analysis Units 3 and 4, which dealt with mass murders and serial killings, among other crimes. In that capacity, she’d killed only twice, in a desperate situation on an isolated farm. In the past week, on leave from the Bureau, she’d killed three men in self-defense. She was now a rogue agent, and she’d had enough of killing.
If Lawrence Hannafin didn’t have the courage and integrity that his reputation suggested, Jane hoped that at least he would turn her away without attempting to bring her to justice. There would be no justice for her. No defense attorney. No jury trial. Considering what she knew about certain powerful people, the best she could hope for was a bullet in the head. They had the means by which to do much worse to her, the ability to break her, to scrub her mind of memories, rob her of free will, and reduce her to docile slavery.