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Odder and Odder
on April 13, 2013
I've been a fan of Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas books since the first one was released, many years ago. While I find most of Mr. Koontz's other fiction very hit or miss (mostly miss this past decade), the Odd Thomas books are consistently interesting, witty and captivating. Odd Thomas (someone left the T off of Todd on his birth certificate), or Oddie, as he his known to his friends and fans, is an ex-fry cook. He makes the world's best, fluffiest pancakes. He also sees ghosts. They do not speak, but gesture to him and pantomime, to get their points across almost always that something bad is coming, and trying to help out. In the first few books his ex-vivo silent companion was Elvis, followed for a bit by Frank Sinatra. Currently he is haunted by Alfred Hitchcock.
Oddie also has a kind of psychic magnetism that draws him inexorably towards places that he needs to be. These always have to do with stopping a person or persons from committing acts that could or will result in mass death and/or destruction. It seems that Oddie's mission in life is to prevent as much of this mayhem as he can, until a stray bullet, explosion or knife in the back catches him and reunites him with his ("You are destined to be together forever") beloved Stormy Llewellyn . There's a lot more more to Odd's back story, but you can glean much of it from this novel, that refers back to many or most of the previous books. "Deeply Odd", like all of the Odd Thomas books, can be read as a stand-alone, but I recommend going back at some point and reading them all. All of them are little gems and the references to previous events will be clearer and the enjoyment of this newest entry, "Deeply Odd", that much the greater.
Near the beginning of the novel, Odd runs into a white-haired nasty cowboy driving a ProStar+ rig, both of which emanate terrible evil. A waking daydream or vision convinces Odd that trucker intends or is somehow linked to the mass death by fire of a large number of young children. Fleeing from the trucker's threat to de-man him with a gun, Oddie meets up with octogenarian, Edie Fisher, who is driving a black Mercedes stretch limo. Seems her long-time driver has just died and Edie is in need of a replacement that she instantly identifies as Oddie. ("I'm a fry cook, Mrs. Fisher, not a chauffeur.") But Mrs. Fisher ("Call me Edie. Yes Ma'am".) is much more than she seems to be, and "hires" Oddie (over his protestations) as her driver (while still driving the limo herself). Mrs. Fisher becomes Oddie's' partner in his mission to find and stop the evil cowboy to stop him before he kills the children. Along the way things become way strange, venturing into a parallel universe (or is it?) and Odd finds, for the first time, someone with abilities similar to his own.
In Deeply Odd, Oddie takes center stage sans all of his friends and companions from previous novels (having left Annamaria back at the ranch when he went for a short trip into town to buy some jeans whereupon all of this adventure started). But Mrs. Fisher is a great new character, and a fine foil for the witty banter that Odd Thomans fans have come to love expect. We meet a few of Edie's friends (she seems to know just about everyone all over the place) who are uniformly extremely helpful and all of whom love her very much. Odd's internal commentary (all of the books are purported to be his memoirs, not to be published until he is dead) is also funny, with many of his similes and metaphors apt to make the reader laugh out loud.
The ending (actually I think it would have worked better as a Coda or an Epilogue) is a little too fantastic, incomprehensible and happily ever after, but that is a rather small quibble. Finally, at the end, this reader was left feeling that Odd Thomas's adventures that began only 19 months (and 6 novels) ago in Pico Mundo, CA, may be drawing to a close, and he may be coming closer to his reunion with Stormy. This is only a impression, but it is one that has lasted for the week since I finished the novel.
Another must read for all Odd Thomas fans, but also a reasonable place to start if you like interesting characters, horror leavened with humor, and light fantasy of a unique sort.