The silent corner, p.1
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       The Silent Corner, p.1

         Part #1 of Jane Hawk series by Dean Koontz
 
The Silent Corner


  The Silent Corner is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2017 by Dean Koontz

  Excerpt from The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz copyright © 2017 by Dean Koontz

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

  BANTAM BOOKS and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  A signed, limited edition has been privately produced by Charnel House. charnelhouse.com

  This book contains an excerpt of the forthcoming title The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz. The excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming book.

  LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

  Names: Koontz, Dean R. (Dean Ray), author.

  Title: The silent corner : a novel / Dean Koontz.

  Description: New York : Bantam Books, [2017]

  Identifiers: LCCN 2016038149| ISBN 9780345545992 (hardback) | ISBN 9780345546784 (ebook)

  Subjects: LCSH: Psychological fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Suspense. | FICTION / Fantasy / Contemporary. | FICTION / Psychological. | GSAFD: Suspense fiction.

  Classification: LCC PS3561.O55 S55 2017 | DDC 813/.54—dc23

  LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/​2016038149

  Ebook ISBN 9780345546784

  randomhousebooks.com

  Book design by Virginia Norey, adapted for ebook

  Cover design: Jaya Miceli

  v4.1

  ep

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Epigraph

  Part One: Rock Me

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Part Two: Rabbit Hole

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Part Three: White Noise

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Part Four: The Silent Corner

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Part Five: Control Mechanism

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Part Six: The Last Good Day

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Excerpt from The Whispering Room

  Dedication

  By Dean Koontz

  About the Author

  The major advances in civilization…

  all but wreck the societies in which they occur.

  —ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD

  I look down into all that wasp-nest or bee-hive

  …and witness their wax-laying and honey-making,

  and poison-brewing, and choking by sulphur.

  —THOMAS CARLYLE, Sartor Resartus

  The Silent Corner: Those who are truly off the grid and cannot be tracked by any technology, yet are able to move about freely and use the Internet, are said to be in the silent corner.

  1

  * * *

  JANE HAWK WOKE in the cool dark and for a moment could not remember where she had gone to sleep, only that as always she was in a queen- or king-size bed and that her pistol lay under the pillow on which the head of a companion would have rested had she not been traveling alone. Diesel growl and friction drone of eighteen tires on asphalt reminded her that she was in a motel, near the interstate, and it was…Monday.

  With a soft-green numerical glow, the bedside clock reported the bad but not uncommon news
that it was 4:15 in the morning, too early for her to have gotten eight hours of sack time, too late to imagine that she might fall back to sleep.

  She lay for a while, thinking about what had been lost. She had promised herself to stop dwelling on the bitter past. She spent less time on it now than before, which would have counted as progress if recently she hadn’t turned to thoughts of what was yet to be lost.

  She took a change of clothes and the pistol into the bathroom. She shut the door and braced it with a straight-backed chair that she had moved from the bedroom upon checking in the previous night.

  Such was the maid service that in the corner above the sink, the radials and spirals of a spider’s architecture extended across an area larger than her hand. When she had gone to bed at eleven o’clock, the only provision hanging in the web had been a struggling moth. During the night, the moth had become but the husk of a moth, the hollow body translucent, the wings shorn of their velvet dust, brittle and fractured. The plump spider now watched over a pair of captured silverfish, leaner fare, though another morsel would soon find its way into the gossamer abattoir.

  Outside, the light from a security lamp gilded the frosted glass in the small crank-out bathroom window, which was not large enough to allow even a child to gain entrance. Its dimensions would also preclude her from escaping through it in a crisis.

  Jane put the pistol on the closed lid of the toilet and left the vinyl curtain open while she took a shower. The water was hotter than she expected from a two-star operation, melting accumulated soreness out of muscle and bone, but she didn’t linger in the spray as long as she would have liked.

  2

  * * *

  HER SHOULDER RIG featured a holster with swivel connectors, a spare-magazine carrier, and a suede harness. The weapon hung just behind her left arm, a deep position that allowed unparalleled concealment beneath her specially tailored sport coats.

  In addition to the spare magazine clipped to the rig, she kept two others in the pockets of the jacket, a total of forty rounds, counting those in the pistol.

  The day might come when forty was not enough. She had no backup anymore, no team in a van around the corner if everything went to shit. Those days were over for the time being, if not forever. She couldn’t arm herself for infinite combat. In any situation, if forty rounds proved not enough, neither would eighty or eight hundred. She did not delude herself regarding her skills or endurance.

  She carried her two suitcases out to the Ford Escape, raised the tailgate, loaded the bags, and locked the vehicle.

  The sun that had not yet risen must have been producing a solar flare or two. The bright silver moon declining in the west reflected so much light that the shadows of its craters had blurred away. It looked not like a solid object but instead like a hole in the night sky, pure and dangerous light shining through from another universe.

  In the motel office, she returned the room key. Behind the front desk, a guy with a shaved head and a chin beard asked if everything had been to her satisfaction, almost as if he genuinely cared. She nearly said, With all the bugs, I imagine a lot of your guests are entomologists. But she didn’t want to leave him with a more memorable image of her than the one he got from picturing her naked. She said, “Yeah, fine,” and walked out of there.

  At check-in, she had paid cash in advance and used one of her counterfeit driver’s licenses to provide the required ID, according to which Lucy Aimes of Sacramento had just left the building.

  Early-spring flying beetles of some kind clicked in the metal cones of the lamps mounted to the ceiling of the covered walkway, and their exaggerated spriggy-legged shadows jigged on the spotlit concrete underfoot.

  As she walked to the diner next door, which was part of the motel operation, she was aware of the security cameras but didn’t look directly at any of them. Surveillance had become inescapable.

  The only cameras that could undo her, however, were those in airports, train stations, and other key facilities that were linked to computers running real-time state-of-the-art facial-recognition software. Her flying days were over. She went everywhere by car.

  When all this started, she’d been a natural blonde with long hair. Now she was a brunette with a shorter cut. Changes of that kind could not foil facial recognition if you were being hunted. Short of spackling herself with an obvious disguise that would also draw unwanted attention, she could not have done much to change the shape of her face or the many unique details of her features to escape this mechanized detection.

  3

  * * *

  A THREE-EGG CHEESE OMELET, a double rasher of bacon, sausage, extra butter for the toast, hold the home fries, coffee instead of orange juice: She thrived on protein, but too many carbs made her feel sluggish and slow-witted. She didn’t worry about fat, because she’d have to live another two decades to develop arteriosclerosis.

  The waitress brought refill coffee. She was thirtyish, pretty in a faded-flower way, too pale and too thin, as if life whittled and bleached her day by day. “You hear about Philadelphia?”

  “What now?”

  “Some crazies crashed this private jet plane straight into four lanes of bumper-to-bumper morning traffic. TV says there must’ve been a full load of fuel. Almost a mile of highway on fire, this bridge collapsed totally, cars and trucks blowing up, those poor people trapped in it. Horrible. We got a TV in the kitchen. It’s too awful to look. Makes you sick to watch it. They say they do it for God, but it’s the devil in them. What are we ever gonna do?”

  “I don’t know,” Jane said.

  “I don’t think anybody knows.”

  “I don’t think so, either.”

  The waitress returned to the kitchen, and Jane finished eating breakfast. If you let the news spoil your appetite, there wouldn’t be a day you could eat.

  4

  * * *

  THE BLACK FORD ESCAPE appeared to be Detroit-lite, but this one had secrets under the hood and the power to outrun anything with the words TO SERVE AND PROTECT on its front doors.

  Two weeks earlier, Jane had paid cash for the Ford in Nogales, Arizona, which was directly across the international border from Nogales, Mexico. The car had been stolen in the United States, given new engine-block numbers and more horsepower in Mexico, and returned to the States for sale. The dealer’s showrooms were a series of barns on a former horse ranch; he never advertised his inventory, never issued a receipt or paid taxes. Upon request, he provided Canadian license plates and a guaranteed-legitimate registration card from the Department of Motor Vehicles for the province of British Columbia.

  When dawn came, she was still in Arizona, racing westward on Interstate 8. The night paled. As the sun slowly cleared the horizon in her wake, the high feathery cirrus clouds ahead of her pinked before darkening to coralline, and the sky waxed through shades of increasingly intense blue.

  Sometimes on long drives, she wanted music. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt. This morning she preferred silence. In her current mood, even the best of music would sound discordant.

  Forty miles past sunrise, she crossed the state line into southernmost California. During the following hour, the high white fleecy clouds lowered and congested and grayed into woolpack. After another hour, the sky had grown darker, swollen, malign.

  Near the western periphery of the Cleveland National Forest, she exited the interstate at the town of Alpine, where General Gordon Lambert had lived with his wife. The previous evening, Jane had consulted one of her old but useful Thomas Guides, a spiral-bound book of maps. She was sure she knew how to find the house.

  In addition to other modifications made to the Ford Escape in Mexico, the entire GPS had been removed, including the transponder that allowed its position to be tracked continuously by satellite and other means. There was no point in being off the grid if the vehicle you drove was Wi-Fied to it with every turn of the wheels.

 
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