Odd Thomas


Dean Koontz


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

December 23, 2006

dd Thomas can see dead people, just like that kid in the movie The Sixth Sense. However, the dead can not talk to Odd Thomas. The dead hang around Odd because they have reasons for not moving on to the next life.

At the start of the novel, Odd encounters Penny – who is dead. Penny wants to be avenged. So Odd confronts her killer – somehow Odd knows all kinds of details about the crime, which is quite puzzling since Penny can not talk to him. How can Odd have this information? Koontz cheats a bit in this novel - he let's Odd's special sixth sense give him all kinds of hints - sort of like Spiderman's spider sense. It is too bad that Koontz doesn’t show us a lot more about the Odd’s interaction with the dead people, but after his encounter with Penny, during the rest of the book Odd doesn’t encounter any more dead people except those involved in the central plot line. (except Elvis Presley, which doesn’t make any sense, since Elvis was no where close to Pico Mundo when he died. I think Koontz just threw in Elvis because there was a big Elvis craze going on at the time of the writing) Shouldn’t there be dead people haunting Odd at all times?

Koontz is a horror writer, and he is in top form when Odd sneaks into the Fungus Man’s house to look for clues. The black room is terrific. Scary and creepy. Unfortunately, the black room disappears from the rest of the book, I thought it would be central to the evil plot hatched by the bad guys. Instead, the black room was just a tangent.

Koontz does a nice job of developing his characters, Odd and his girlfriend Stormy and police chief Porter and Bob Robertson are all well drawn. Koontz must have written about a hundred novels, so he knows how to keep the pages turning. But I felt there were some flaws too – late in the novel, when everything is heading for the grande finale, Odd veers off for a couple of pointless chapters to visit his parents. His parents are both nutcases, and maybe these chapters would have worked earlier in the novel, but coming so late in the story, they did nothing to develop the character of Odd and only slowed down the tension Koontz had been constructing. I also didn’t like the three coyotes “threatening” Odd – coyotes are not big like wolves, they are like small dogs. How could Odd feel threatened by 3 little dogs? It felt like Koontz was trying to throw in some cheap tension because he didn’t feel his main plot had enough suspense, but instead the coyote encounter was unbelievable and it tripped up the story pacing. Same with the tarantula.

The bodachs are a neat invention. A bodach is a pure black creature, like an independent shadow. Only Odd Thomas can see them, so perhaps they are dead. They certainly are not human. Bodachs gather around places of human misery and anguish. Usually they are visible at violent crimes. Unfortunately, Odd Thomas is seeing more and more bodachs more into town, so he knows something truly bad is going to happen and he has to try to stop it.

Unfortunately, the bad guys are undeveloped stock characters. They are committed to creating as much murder and mayhem as possible, because they are satan worshippers. I think it would have been a better story if Koontz had focused on a confrontation between the Fungus Man (perhaps employing the time/space travel properties of the black room?) and Odd Thomas, rather than writing an over-the-top Hollywood finish where Odd Thomas gets to be a mighty hero.

Because Koontz is a pro, you will keep turning the pages. The story is interesting. The book is okay. Could have been better. Maybe I will pick up the sequel, maybe I won’t…