Currently Reading

  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • Patience & Fortitude by Nicholas A Basbanes
  • Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
  • a People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I See Dead People

Title: Odd Thomas
Author: Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas is, well, odd. Raised by a philandering ephebophile, and a loveless, truly egocentric young woman, Odd is currently employed as a short order cook at a local restaurant in the small town of Pico Mundo, California. After a childhood of a mother refusing to be a mother, consistently threatening to shoot either herself or him while actually holding a loaded pistol, combined with a Cole Sear like ability to see the spirits of the recently departed, it is amazing that Odd can function as a stable human being. It is even more surprising that he has managed to maintain a stable relationship with a woman who a carnival fortune teller said he was destined for. Unfortunately, his topsy turvy world will soon be turned entirely upside down, when a trinity of hard-boiled satanists move to town, and decide to turn the little Mojave town into Hell on Earth.

Koontz promises and delivers an amazing roller coaster of a narrative. All the characters Odd runs into, from Odd himself, to Little Ozzie, his not so little mentor, to his parents, and Stormy Lewellyn, his girlfriend, are painted in full color. You cheer for the good guys, and you boo the bad guys, but there are shades of gray here too. Odd only encounters his mother in one scene in the whole 446 page narrative, but throughout the multi-chapter encounter, I couldn't decide whether to hate or feel sorry for the woman who shoved a loaded pistol in her five year old son's face when he was sick, and only needed someone to care about his well being. This is a woman who, when told she may be the key to helping her son save the whole town, shoves that same handgun under her chin and demands that he pull the trigger himself.

Details pop up early in the narrative, and when you think they were insignificant, they come back to slap you in the face. There are a handful of times, such as one of the Satanist's tattoos, that Koontz mentions something in passing, only to make you slap yourself later on for not seeing it for the giant clue that it was.

Playing PI for the dead is just as much part of a normal day for Odd Thomas as flipping burgers or frying eggs, and Koontz succeeds in making the supernatural seem believable. If you enjoyed "the Sixth Sense" or are a fan of the Dresden Files, go ahead and pick up a copy of Odd Thomas, you won't regret it.

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