Thursday, July 4, 2013


by MJ Preston

I have been reading since I was kid. I started out with comic books, moved up to novels written by the likes of Stephen King, Frank Herbert, Robert R McCammon and then there were scores of other writers, outside the realm of horror. To name a few, Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy who took me for a ride withThe Dogs of War or into the trenches of World War 3 with Red Storm Rising. My appetite for reading was not limited to fiction either, I grew very interested in true crime, historical events and I am an incurable news junkie. What am saying here? Well, I like reading, I don't get to do it nearly enough, but I try to do it as often as possible and if I can't settle back with a book, I'll plug in an audio book.

So, as hard as this might be to believe, I have a confession to make. Up until last year I had never read a single book by Dean Koontz. It wasn't because I had heard anything negative about Koontz, I just hadn't discovered him. Last year, I purchased an old book by him called: Lightening, which was a cool time travel bit in which Nazi's were trying to change the future. I followed this up with a book called: The Voice of the Night which he penned under the name Brian Coffey. The second book wasn't quite as good as the first, but Koontz has an interesting approach to story telling. I might not have picked up another book by Koontz, there are so many out there by so many capable authors and time seems to be the only thing holding me back from indulging in my favorite indulgence.

Six months ago, in a second hand store with my wife, who was clearly looking for something she could afford on my starving artists wages, I picked up a book another Koontz book for a quarter. I figured I'd grab the dog eared paperback and sit in the car while she toiled over the treasure trove of shit other people didn't want in their home. If the book was a dud I'd be out a quarter, if it wasn't I drag it along with me to any place I'd be happy to wait. 

Sitting down in the driver seat, setting it to recline, I thumbed open the paperback and was introduced to the main character who, in the first person, said, “My name is Odd Thomas.”

By the second paragraph, I was hooked and knew that when my wife came out I would have to grudgingly put the book down. 

As I quickly found out, Odd Thomas was a 20-Something Fry Cook slinging hash browns and pancakes in the Peco Mundo Grill, which was set somewhere on the California Coast. As Odd revealed himself, he made mention of his dysfunctional parents, with whom he is estranged – his adopted family, comprised of father figure, Chief Wyatt Porter, and his mentor, Little Ozzie, a morbidly obese and successful mystery writer who tells Odd to keep the tone of the story is telling you light. Most notably, Odd speaks of his love, Stormy Llewellyn with whom he is destined to spend the rest of his life. Once settling into the world of Odd Thomas, his family and friends I also discovered one other thing. Odd sees the dead,e and he attempts to help them to pass from this world to the next. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that many of those who come to Odd Thomas for help are often the victims of violent circumstances. In the opening of the first book, he is visited by the ghost of a brutally murdered girl and sets out to catch her killer. That is where the story opens, but doesn't end when he is successful in catching her killer.

In fact, it is only an introduction to the world of Odd Thomas who in the first book of the same name. Along with the victims of violent crimes, Odd often finds himself in the company of Elvis Presley's ghost, who has not moved on to the next world for reasons Odd has yet to understand. Oh yeah, one other thing. Odd also sees apparitions known as: Bodachs which he speculates are either demons or time travelers that feed off massive loss of life with horrific drama.

Anton Yelchin cast as Odd Thomas
I'm not going to spoil the books for you. I will tell you that I have read five of the Odd Thomas Books: Odd Thomas, Forever Odd, Brother Odd, Odd Hours, and Odd Apocalypse. And I'm not finished, there are more books to read and now a motion picture adaption of the first book. I can also confess that the humor and light tone of these books are a pleasant escape told completely in the first person. Odd Thomas, is a selfless individual who manages to stay upbeat and positive in the face of an adverse and cynical world. His only conceit is his greatest talent and I am paraphrasing here as he declares, “No one makes fluffier pancakes than me. So light and fluffy. they almost float of the plate.” Koontz delivers this likeable young man who has faces murder, mayhem, torture, heart wrenching loss, but still he carries on. 

Unlike you or I, Odd does not fear death, because he knows what waits for him, Odd continues his quest to give justice those who cannot demand it because as he puts it.

The dead don't speak.


1 comment:

  1. I'm so pleased you discovered Dean Koontz. I'm a huge Koontz fan. Although I admit some of his books are better than others, all of them have likeable characters who you can root for, great suspense, and are fast-paced. I'm in the middle of One Door Away From Summer and loving it! :-)