A semi-recent comment on my blog suggested that I check out the Odd Thomas series by author Dean Koontz. Since then I have kept this recommendation on my radar. I recently had the chance to read the first book in the series, Odd Thomas. The story is about a 20 year old man named Odd Thomas. He has complete nut jobs for parents, and although he is by all accounts an average guy, living in a small rented room above a garage and working as a short order cook in a small restaurant in the western town of Pico Mundo, he is a pretty decent and normal man. However, he has a gift that he has shared only with his girlfriend Stormy, his friend and mentor Little Ozzie, and the local police chief Wyatt Porter. Odd has the ability to see and communicate with spirits and other unworldly creatures. The spirits that he encounters linger in this world when most others move on to the next world. Those that remain are troubled or unaccepting of their fate. Some linger around because they have met a a grizzly demise at the hands of another. It is these that Odd tends to encounter most often, and to such as these, he feels compelled to help.
The main story involves a completely repugnant man that Odd encounters in town who is marked by evil. He is accompanied by an entourage of dark spirits that Odd has called bodachs. These spirits show up whenever death and destruction are looming. Odd then begins to learn about this person he calls the "fungus man". The more he learns, the more he gets pulled into trying to figure out why a legion of bodachs has amassed. What could "fungus man" be up to? Just when he thinks he has a clue, fungus man is murdered. The clever hero is then forced to dive deeper, to sift again through the short list of clues that he has uncovered. The lives of thousands of people in this sleepy western town hang in the balance.
I have read scores of novels over the past few years and have a short list of those that have made my list of favorites. I think this book has put Dean Koontz on my must read list. Odd Thomas was an exceedingly well crafted story with an ending that brought me to tears. Filled with intriguing characters, a fast moving pace, humorous dialog and observations, and a very clever approach. In short, this was the work of a completely focussed and professional author on top of his game. I look forward to diving into the second book in this series, Forever Odd.