'Odd Thomas' blends horror with romance

In his new thriller, "Odd Thomas," Dean Koontz tells a story of a cult-driven bloodbath to which he adds some existential eeriness that keeps the reader eagerly anticipating every word.

Odd Thomas is the main character. Yes, Odd is his given name, and a fitting one it is. He can see spirits and foresee crimes, a gift he uses for the common good. Only a few people in Odd's desert town of Pico Mundo know about his ability. One is Odd's girlfriend, Stormy. Another is the police chief, who collaborates with Odd to solve crimes.

Koontz has a poetic way of weaving romance into his stories. Odd reveals: "Stormy Llewellyn and I are more than friends. We believe that we are soul mates. For one thing, we have a card from a carnival fortune-telling machine that says we're destined to be together forever. We also have matching birthmarks."

Later, Odd describes how Stormy "took my right hand, turned it palm up, and traced my birthmark with her forefinger.

"My mark is a crescent, half an inch wide, an inch and a half from point to point, as white as milk against the pink flush of my hand.

"Her mark is identical to mine except that it is brown and on the sweet slope of her right breast. If I cup her breast in the most natural manner, our birthmarks perfectly align."

Odd senses evil lurking in town. He sees bodachs, spirits whose "appetite is for operatic terror," gathering in Pico Mundo.

"A group of bodachs on the move sometimes brings to mind a pack of stalking wolves," Odd says. "On other occasions they remind me of a pride of slinking cats."

Odd follows them. The bodachs are fascinated by a certain creepy man whom they trail closely, and before long Odd is involved in a devil worshipper's thirst to kill. Through recurring dreams, Odd foresees a series of killings. In his quest to prevent them, he is led through a series of otherworldly weirdness that makes the skin crawl.

Koontz has a keen ability to make his supernatural beings seem like real, normal people. Adding to the success of the tale is the realistically sweet, loving relationship between Odd and Stormy.

In "Odd Thomas," Koontz delivers another taut-muscled, teeth-chattering story that keeps the reader glued to the pages.


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