Tuesday, March 10, 2015


With January 2015's Saint Odd, Dean Koontz wraps up the 12-year saga of one of his quirkiest little characters and series, the Odd Thomas books.

The title character -- Odd Thomas, who does not believe his mother that a typo changed his name from Todd -- was a short-order fry cook in the small city of Pico Mundo. And he can see dead people. They don't talk to him, but they do appear to him and in many cases lead him to the people who caused their deaths. Pico Mundo Police Chief Wyatt Porter is aware of of Odd's talent and often takes advantage of what his gift shows.

Since 2003's Odd Thomas, Odd has been wandering around the western US, seeking some answers about that gift as well as some peace following personal tragedies. At every turn, he seems to come in contact with people who need his help as well as those who want to do him harm. The latter is often nothing personal, you understand -- it's just that they've got an evil plot to rule the world and cause mass death and chaos, and decent folk like Odd who want to stop that get in their way.

In Saint Odd, we find Odd back in the town of Pico Mundo just ahead of one of this malignant group's grislier plots. He has seen a vision that suggests what the plot might be, but later events make him unsure of his talent and if what he has seen will come to pass. Can the allies supporting him in the name of the forces of good help him or will they also be victims?

While Koontz maintains the wry, self-effacing tone that has given the Odd Thomas novels their humor and character, Saint Odd itself feels both a little stretched out as well as anticlimactic. Given some of the dastardly deeds threatened in earlier novels, the actual villainous plot against which Odd fights in this last volume, while certainly evil, seems lacking in scale. Odd himself acts a little more willing to fight with weapons rather than his wits, but that could also be chalked up to his own weariness after a couple of years on the run. His philosophical asides are mostly as interesting as ever, although they show signs of being less Odd-Thomas musing and more Dean-Koontz didactic.

Saint Odd is still a pretty good wrap-up of the series, a sort of Narnia noir in the 21st century American west. Odd's enemies serve evil forces that exult in the supernatural dimensions of ordinary human injustice, bigotry and hatred. They desire to write large on the cosmos what their twisted human servants write every day on the souls of the world. Odd and his allies serve good that desires this exact opposite: A belief that the central Story of the universe is one of courage, adventure and love and a belief that the world needs more and more of that Story rather than the one being written by human nature's lowest denominators. Saint Odd echoes The Last Battle in more than one way, as good triumphs, it does so at a price, and another, greater adventure awaits. Which is a not a bad way to end any story.

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