“I lead an unusual life.” Says the title character Odd, of his own existence on the second page of one of Dean
Koontz’s best novels to date.
Odd Thomas is a very average guy—as plain as could be. He’s a fry cook by trade in the lonely desert town of Pico Mundo, a loyal boyfriend to his soul mate Stormy Llewellyn, a budding author under the tutelage of mystery writing master Ozzie Boone—and, oh yeah, he sees dead people.
The dead don’t speak, but they do try to communicate, and apparently they love to try to communicate with Odd Thomas. Sometimes they are only seeking justice, occasionally they try to prevent a crime by warning him. But one day everything changes with a mysterious stranger in town surrounded by dark hyena like shadow creatures called bodachs. They are the heralds of imminent disaster and death—beings that feed on chaos and violence, and they’re crowding around the small town of Pico Mundo, and it’s up to Odd and his band of allies, including Stormy, Chief Porter, and the ghost of Elvis, to get to the bottom of it and stop the gathering evil before time runs out.
This may seem to be a bit of an exhausted premise now, having a protagonist who sees the departed spirits of the dead—and we won’t even begin to delve into the theological complications of such a subject—but somehow, Koontz pulls it off beautifully. The character of Odd, our narrator in this story, is fascinating, witty and darn lovable. Written with a tone of wry humor, and self-depreciating sarcasm, this tale is not as horrific as it may seem, although it maintains it’s frightening moments. In these pages, you see from a first person perspective the heart of Odd Thomas, his love for his friends, loyalty to do what’s right, and how far he will have to go to stop a plot that nobody else has the ability to prevent.
Keep in mind this is certainly an adult novel. It does contain adult language, content and violence. It is not a book I recommend lightly, but only for mature readers who are able to take the good aspects of this story and leave the rest. Of course it is riddled with theological problems, that we can’t spend all that much time solving, and really, due to the nature of this book, we need not spend time trying to.
However if you take this novel at face value, it is a fun romp into the fantasy world of fiction. The characters don’t seem so cardboard and cut out, but real, breathing people. Pico Mundo is populated by some of Koontz’s best creations and probably will prove to be some of his most enduring work. There’s a reason this one makes my list of favorites, and for the mature reader who is able to discern properly, I’m confident it will make your list as well.