From our partner and fellow Examiner, Shannon McConnell - her work can be found at Tumblr - like what you see? Subscribe!
I might be a little late to the game, but I always get there in the long run. Odd Thomas is probably the most likeable supernatural detective I’ve ever encountered in my literary journeys. Dean Koontz has created a character that far surpasses your everyday ordinary gumshoe by making him almost psychic, a little naïve, and by giving him a natural sweetness that makes your heart break for wanting to save him the hurt he will undoubtedly face in the pages to come.
Odd Thomas works as short order fry cook in Pico Mundo, California and he sees the lingering dead. He says the dead don’t talk, and he doesn’t know why. The morning of August 14th begins for our protagonist with the spirit of Penny Kalisto, a young girl who was brutally raped and murdered. She takes his hand and it feels warm in his because that’s how he wants it to feel. She leads him up a few streets and down another seemingly in what appears to be a random fashion when she stops and he knows that she’s led him to her killer. Harlo Landerson pulls up beside him in his Chevelle convertible and waves an amiable hello. Odd becomes overwhelmed with disgust and anguish telling Harlo knows about the memento the young man has kept in his wallet to remind himself of the heinous deed. Knowing that he has to stop him before he hurts someone again, a chase ensues through the town and into a young woman’s home, where Odd saves her son and stops Harlo from killing again – all before his morning shift at the local diner.
And that’s just the beginning! The lingering dead aren’t the only paranormal entities he is sensitive to. He sees creatures that he has named Bodach’s. They are not demons, nor were they ever human – they are the harbingers of evil. They feed off of darkness and hate, and will swarm when catastrophe is near. That is why the character of Fungus Bob, a particularly odiferous patron of his diner, becomes the object of Odd’s obsession when he sees several bodachs sniffing, caressing and swirling around this man.
A normal person would perhaps lose their mind when confronted with the impossible, but Odd Thomas draws strength from his friends, namely the Sherriff, who is as close to a father as he’s ever had, from Ozzie Boone, his best friend, Elvis, or rather his ghost, and most important and significantly from Stormy Llewellyn, the love of his life, or as he would say, his destiny.
This story is intensely Odd, pun absolutely intended. There is romance, action, fantasy, horror, tenderness and moments that will leave you breathless. Dean Koontz doesn’t need my stamp of approval but I’m giving it to him, just the same. Odd Thomas is one of the best written characters on shelves today.