Meet Odd Thomas, a 20 year old grill chef from Paco Mundo in southern California. There are definitely a couple of odd things about Odd...the first being that ‘Odd’ is the name on his birth certificate and the second being that he can see dead people...but he can’t hear them...odd eh?
Odd makes it his business to try to assist the recently dead who, for whatever reason, are still clinging to this mortal coil by the remnants of life’s umbilicus. He feels it is his duty to help them move on by attempting to put right whatever wrong may be holding them back from fully exploring their state of being dead...on the other side.
Still, the recently dead and their paranormal problems are not the only concern for Odd Thomas, he can see otherwordly creatures too...Bodachs, as he calls them. These dark, shadowy entities seem to feed off suffering and violence so whenever he sees these formless shapes, which flock in packs, Odd knows...a something bad this way comes!
I loved this book so much I forgot to wash! ( I could be exaggerating there )...it certainly kept my interest piqued and I really was flipping through the pages like a Gargoyle possessed! I’ll be honest, over the years I’ve tended to lean away from Koontz as I felt he’d drifted from the ‘Dead cert for a good read’ towards the ‘Dead cert to be dead boring’!!...Look...you’re entitled to gnash your tooth in protest to that comment but as said I’m just being honest and I’m sure you’d prefer it that way...’cos then you’ll believe me when I tell you the good stuff, as I’m about to do...so do reconsider sending me that hate mail!!
Koontz hit on a winner with the character Odd Thomas and its success is entirely due to Koontz skillful development of a believable and endearing personality. Whilst Odd is the main man throughout the book he isn’t some thigh thrusting he-man with pulsing biceps, superhero underwear and a libido that would make Casanova blush...au contraire! Odd Thomas is a humble, unassuming, caring and thoughtful individual whose modest and considered aspiration is no more than to be a successful tyre salesman and thus, with a secure job, be better able to support the love of his life...soul mate, Stormy Lllewellyn, when they eventually marry and start a family.
Stormy and Odd fit into each other perfectly enfolding the reader within a cuddly blanket of romantic fluffiness...but hold on!!...Before you start dry heaving in repulsion at the word ‘romantic’...this is no Mills and Boon syrupy stomach churning, lovey dovey fest...( apologies to the Mills and Boon fan...back to the hate mail I suppose!...sigh )...this is a relationship cocooned in a cloud of crazy...not necessarily of their doing!
Travelling through this book with Odd Thomas introduces the reader to a plethora of interesting characters...( Including Elvis...yep...that’s right! )...and each one has been developed in such a unique and accomplished manner as to allow them their own defined signatures. I’ll leave you to discover them for yourselves but be assured you won’t be disappointed with their company. Through Koontz’ deceptively detailed characterisation he has managed to pack so much action into this books modest 400 pages as to make it feel like a much sturdier read and whilst it’s a very fulfilling read it’s a measure of Koontz excellence when the reader is still left panting and pining for more...( I have the same problem with chocolate ).
Koontz has also adeptly and successfully fused together a blend of genres. Horror/Mystery/Thriller and Romance are present here but each hold true to their own identity complimenting the other rather than overshadowing. Humour is a delicious landscape inhabited by all of the above genres, so the entire collection of sensations this merger conjures could be considered to be the equivalent of a stimulating, literary massage...hitting the right spots and essentially most satisfying...( This is not the same as using the book as a weapon...but hey...if needs must an’all that! ).
With Odd Thomas I feel that Koontz succeeded in saving himself from disappearing into the cavernous labyrinth of ‘hasbeen writers’ where so many of yesterdays powerful authors are now piteous residents...longing to recover the fiery heat of their earlier successes but only serving to briefly illuminate the pilot light of despair!...( Cheery eh? )... Still!...Koontz isn’t amongst them...( for the time being at least )...so lets relish his reprieve!
So there we have it...’Odd Thomas’...an all round excellent read bulging with so much bad stuff...it’s good...yet always managing to accentuate the fragility of the human condition...( it even brought a tear to this Gargoyle’s eyes...Shhh don’t tell anyone! )
Rating 5 out of 5 stars
By The Grumbling Gargoyle