The New York Times
Forever Odd (Odd Thomas Series #2)by Dean Koontz
Every so often a character so captures the hearts and imaginations of readers that he seems to take on a life of his own long after the final page is turned. For such a character, one book is not enough-readers must know what happens next. Now Dean Koontz returns with the novel his fans have been demanding. With the emotional power and sheer storytelling artistry that… See more details below
Every so often a character so captures the hearts and imaginations of readers that he seems to take on a life of his own long after the final page is turned. For such a character, one book is not enough-readers must know what happens next. Now Dean Koontz returns with the novel his fans have been demanding. With the emotional power and sheer storytelling artistry that are his trademarks, Koontz takes up once more the story of a unique young hero and an eccentric little town in a tale that is equal parts suspense and terror, adventure and mystery-and altogether irresistibly odd.
We're all a little odd beneath the surface. He's the most unlikely hero you'll ever meet-an ordinary guy with a modest job you might never look at twice. But there's so much more to any of us than meets the eye-and that goes triple for Odd Thomas. For Odd lives always between two worlds in the small desert town of Pico Mundo, where the heroic and the harrowing are everyday events. Odd never asked to communicate with the dead-it's something that just happened. But as the unofficial goodwill ambassador between our world and theirs, he's got a duty to do the right thing. That's the way Odd sees it and that's why he's won hearts on both sides of the divide between life and death.
A childhood friend of Odd's has disappeared. The worst is feared. But as Odd applies his unique talents to the task of finding the missing person, he discovers something worse than a dead body, encounters an enemy of exceptional cunning, and spirals into a vortex of terror. Once again Odd will stand against our worst fears. Around him will gather new allies and old, some living and some not. For in the battle to come, there can be no innocent bystanders, and every sacrifice can tip the balance between despair and hope. Whether you're meeting Odd Thomas for the first time or he's already an old friend, you'll be led on an unforgettable journey through a world of terror, wonder and delight-to a revelation that can change your life. And you can have no better guide than Odd Thomas.
The New York Times
"The nice young fry cook with the occult powers is [Dean Koontz's] most likable creation. ... candid, upright, amusing and sometimes withering, especially when thinking about the state of contemporary popular culture."—The New York Times
"Inventive.... It's refreshing to come across a character as good-hearted as Odd.... [Dean Koontz is] an interesting writer with a voice all his own."—Washington Post
"Odd's strange gifts, coupled with his intelligence and self-effacing humor, make him one of the most quietly authoritative characters in recent popular fiction."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Read an Excerpt
By Dean Koontz
Random HouseDean Koontz
All right reserved.
WAKING, I HEARD A WARM WIND STRUMMING THE LOOSE screen at the open window, and I thought Stormy, but it was not.
The desert air smelled faintly of roses, which were not in bloom, and of dust, which in the Mojave flourishes twelve months of the year.
Precipitation falls on the town of Pico Mundo only during our brief winter. This mild February night was not, however, sweetened by the scent of rain.
I hoped to hear the fading rumble of thunder. If a peal had awakened me, it must have been thunder in a dream.
Holding my breath, I lay listening to the silence, and felt the silence listening to me. The nightstand clock painted glowing numbers on the gloom- 2:41 A.M.
For a moment I considered remaining in bed. But these days I do not sleep as well as I did when I was young. I am twenty-one and much older than when I was twenty.
Certain that I had company, expecting to find two Elvises watching over me, one with a cocky smile and one with sad concern, I sat up and switched on the lamp. A single Elvis stood in a corner: a life-size cardboard figure that had been part of a theater-lobby display for Blue Hawaii. In a Hawaiian shirt and a lei, he looked self-confident and happy.
Back in 1961, he'd had much to be happy about. Blue Hawaii was a hit film, and the album went to number one. He had six gold records that year, including "Can't Help Falling in Love," and he was falling in love with Priscilla Beaulieu.
Less happily, at the insistence of his manager, Tom Parker, he had turned down the lead in West Side Story in favor of mediocre movie fare like Follow That Dream. Gladys Presley, his beloved mother, had been dead three years, and still he felt the loss of her, acutely. Only twenty-six, he'd begun to have weight problems.
Cardboard Elvis smiles eternally, forever young, incapable of error or regret, untouched by grief, a stranger to despair.
I envy him. There is no cardboard replica of me as I once was and as I can never be again.
The lamplight revealed another presence, as patient as he was desperate. Evidently he had been watching me sleep, waiting for me to wake.
I said, "Hello, Dr. Jessup."
Dr. Wilbur Jessup was incapable of a response. Anguish flooded his face. His eyes were desolate pools; all hope had drowned in those lonely depths.
"I'm sorry to see you here," I said.
He made fists of his hands, not with the intention of striking anything, but as an expression of frustration. He pressed his fists to his chest.
Dr. Jessup had never previously visited my apartment; and I knew in my heart that he no longer belonged in Pico Mundo. But I clung to denial, and I spoke to him again as I got out of bed.
"Did I leave the door unlocked?"
He shook his head. Tears blurred his eyes, but he did not wail or even whimper. Fetching a pair of jeans from the closet, slipping into them, I said, "I've been forgetful lately."
He opened his fists and stared at his palms. His hands trembled. He buried his face in them.
"There's so much I'd like to forget," I continued as I pulled on socks and shoes, "but only the small stuff slips my mind-like where I left the keys, whether I locked the door, that I'm out of milk. . . ."
Dr. Jessup, a radiologist at County General Hospital, was a gentle man, and quiet, although he had never before been this quiet. Because I had not worn a T-shirt to bed, I plucked a white one from a drawer. I have a few black T-shirts, but mostly white. In addition to a selection of blue jeans, I have two pair of white chinos.
This apartment provides only a small closet. Half of it is empty. So are the bottom drawers of my dresser.
I do not own a suit. Or a tie. Or shoes that need to be shined.
For cool weather, I own two crew-neck sweaters.
Once I bought a sweater vest. Temporary insanity. Realizing that I had introduced an unthinkable level of complexity to my wardrobe, I returned it to the store the next day.
My four-hundred-pound friend and mentor, P. Oswald Boone, has warned me that my sartorial style represents a serious threat to the apparel industry.
I've noted more than once that the articles in Ozzie's wardrobe are of such enormous dimensions that he keeps in business those fabric mills I might otherwise put in jeopardy.
Barefoot, Dr. Jessup wore cotton pajamas. They were wrinkled from the rigors of restless sleep.
"Sir, I wish you'd say something," I told him. "I really wish you would."
Instead of obliging me, the radiologist lowered his hands from his face, turned, and walked out of the bedroom.
I glanced at the wall above the bed. Framed behind glass is a card from a carnival fortune-telling machine. It promises YOU ARE DESTINED TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER.
Each morning, I begin my day by reading those seven words. Each night, I read them again, sometimes more than once, before sleep, if sleep will come to me.
I am sustained by the certainty that life has meaning. As does death.
From a nightstand, I retrieved my cell phone. The first number on speed dial is the office of Wyatt Porter, chief of the Pico Mundo Police Department. The second is his home number. The third is his cell phone.
More likely than not, I would be calling Chief Porter, one place or another, before dawn.
In the living room, I turned on a light and discovered that Dr. Jessup had been standing in the dark, among the thrift-shop treasures with which the place is furnished.
When I went to the front door and opened it, he did not follow.
Although he had sought my assistance, he couldn't find the courage for what lay ahead.
In the rubescent light from an old bronze lamp with a beaded shade, the eclectic decor-Stickley-style armchairs, plump Victorian footstools, Maxfield Parrish prints, carnival-glass vases-evidently appealed to him.
"No offense," I said, "but you don't belong here, sir." Dr. Jessup silently regarded me with what might have been supplication. "This place is filled to the brim with the past. There's room for Elvis and me, and memories, but not for anyone new."
I stepped into the public hall and pulled the door shut.
My apartment is one of two on the first floor of a converted Victorian house. Once a rambling single-family home, the place still offers considerable charm. For years I lived in one rented room above a garage. My bed had been just a few steps from my refrigerator. Life was simpler then, and the future clear. I traded that place for this not because I needed more space, but because my heart is here now, and forever.
The front door of the house featured an oval of leaded glass. The night beyond looked sharply beveled and organized into a pattern that anyone could understand.
When I stepped onto the porch, this night proved to be like all others: deep, mysterious, trembling with the potential for chaos. From porch steps to flagstone path, to public sidewalk, I looked around for Dr. Jessup but didn't see him. In the high desert, which rises far east beyond Pico Mundo, winter can be chilly, while our low-desert nights remain mild even in February. The curbside Indian laurels sighed and whispered in the balmy wind, and moths soared to street lamps.
The surrounding houses were as quiet as their windows were dark. No dogs barked. No owls hooted.
No pedestrians were out, no traffic on the streets. The town looked as if the Rapture had occurred, as if only I had been left behind to endure the reign of Hell on Earth.
By the time I reached the corner, Dr. Jessup rejoined me. His pajamas and the lateness of the hour suggested that he had come to my apartment from his home on Jacaranda Way, five blocks north in a better neighborhood than mine. Now he led me in that direction.
He could fly, but he plodded. I ran, drawing ahead of him.
Although I dreaded what I would find no less than he might have dreaded revealing it to me, I wanted to get to it quickly. As far as I knew, a life might still be in jeopardy.
Halfway there, I realized that I could have taken the Chevy. For most of my driving life, having no car of my own, I borrowed from friends as needed. The previous autumn, I had inherited a 1980 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta Coupe.
Often I still act as though I have no wheels. Owning a few thousand pounds of vehicle oppresses me when I think about it too much. Because I try not to think about it, I sometimes forget I have it.
Under the cratered face of the blind moon, I ran.
On Jacaranda Way, the Jessup residence is a white-brick Georgian with elegant ornamentation. It is flanked by a delightful American Victorian with so many decorative moldings that it resembles a wedding cake, and by a house that is baroque in all the wrong ways.
None of these architectural styles seems right for the desert, shaded by palm trees, brightened by climbing bougainvillea. Our town was founded in 1900 by newcomers from the East Coast, who fled the harsh winters but brought with them cold-climate architecture and attitude.
Terri Stambaugh, my friend and employer, owner of the Pico Mundo Grille, tells me that this displaced architecture is better than the dreary acres of stucco and graveled roofs in many California desert towns.
I assume that she is right. I have seldom crossed the city line of Pico Mundo and have never been beyond the boundaries of Maravilla County.
My life is too full to allow either a jaunt or a journey. I don't even watch the Travel Channel.
The joys of life can be found anywhere. Far places only offer exotic ways to suffer.
Besides, the world beyond Pico Mundo is haunted by strangers, and I find it difficult enough to cope with the dead who, in life, were known to me. Upstairs and down, soft lamplight shone at some windows of the Jessup residence. Most panes were dark. By the time I reached the foot of the front-porch steps, Dr. Wilbur Jessup waited there.
The wind stirred his hair and ruffled his pajamas, although why he should be subject to the wind, I do not know. The moonlight found him, too, and shadow. The grieving radiologist needed comforting before he could summon sufficient strength to lead me into his house, where he himself no doubt lay dead, and perhaps another.
I embraced him. Only a spirit, he was invisible to everyone but me, yet he felt warm and solid.
Perhaps I see the dead affected by the weather of this world, and see them touched by light and shadow, and find them as warm as the living, not because this is the way they are but because this is the way I want them to be. Perhaps by this device, I mean to deny the power of death.
My supernatural gift might reside not in my mind but instead in my heart. The heart is an artist that paints over what profoundly disturbs it, leaving on the canvas a less dark, less sharp version of the truth.
Dr. Jessup had no substance, but he leaned heavily upon me, a weight. He shook with the sobs that he could not voice.
The dead don't talk. Perhaps they know things about death that the living are not permitted to learn from them.
In this moment, my ability to speak gave me no advantage. Words would not soothe him.
Nothing but justice could relieve his anguish. Perhaps not even justice. When he'd been alive, he had known me as Odd Thomas, a local character. I am regarded by some people-wrongly-as a hero, as an eccentric by nearly everyone.
Odd is not a nickname; it's my legal handle.
The story of my name is interesting, I suppose, but I've told it before. What it boils down to is that my parents are dysfunctional. Big-time. I believe that in life Dr. Jessup had found me intriguing, amusing, puzzling. I think he had liked me.
Only in death did he know me for what I am: a companion to the lingering dead. I see them and wish I did not. I cherish life too much to turn the dead away, however, for they deserve my compassion by virtue of having suffered this world.
When Dr. Jessup stepped back from me, he had changed. His wounds were now manifest.
He had been hit in the face with a blunt object, maybe a length of pipe or a hammer. Repeatedly. His skull was broken, his features distorted. Torn, cracked, splintered, his hands suggested that he had desperately tried to defend himself-or that he had come to the aid of someone. The only person living with him was his son, Danny.
My pity was quickly exceeded by a kind of righteous rage, which is a dangerous emotion, clouding judgment, precluding caution.
In this condition, which I do not seek, which frightens me, which comes over me as though I have been possessed, I can't turn away from what must be done. I plunge. My friends, those few who know my secrets, think my compulsion has a divine inspiration. Maybe it's just temporary insanity.
Step to step, ascending, then crossing the porch, I considered phoning Chief Wyatt Porter. I worried, however, that Danny might perish while I placed the call and waited for the authorities.
The front door stood ajar.
I glanced back and saw that Dr. Jessup preferred to haunt the yard instead of the house. He lingered in the grass.
His wounds had vanished. He appeared as he had appeared before Death had found him-and he looked scared.
Until they move on from this world, even the dead can know fear. You would think they have nothing to lose, but sometimes they are wretched with anxiety, not about what might lie Beyond, but about those whom they have left behind. I pushed the door inward. It moved as smoothly, as silently as the mechanism of a well-crafted, spring-loaded trap.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Forever Odd by Dean Koontz Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.
- Newport Beach, California
- Date of Birth:
- July 9, 1945
- Place of Birth:
- Everett, Pennsylvania
- B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Koontz's novel "Odd Thomas" was clearly a bigger hit than anticipated, because his publishers have urged him to continue the story of the twenty-something fry cook who sees dead people. The result is "Forever Odd", which sees Odd left deflated and dispirited (not literally - he still communicates with ghosts) after the soul-shattering conclusion to his previous misadventure. Now that his desert town of Pico Mundo has returned to its state of relative calm, Odd wonders if he'll have time to rest and repair himself. Unfortunately, fate has something else in store for him. A young and very twisted lady has taken interest in the man with the unwanted gift, and has abducted a young and vulnerable friend of Odd's in order to get his attention.
Through his character, Koontz made it clear in the first novel that he intended to keep the tone light and the story swift-paced. He kept his promise for "Odd Thomas", and has done the same for the sequel. Every page in this novel feels relevant and un-belaboured, making this every bit the page-turner that the cover says.
The light tone occasionally feels forced, however, with Odd spinning out weak jokes and sometimes excruciatingly unfunny extended similes. Odd's young friend Danny, who Odd claims has a rapier wit and unparalleled sense of self-deprecating humour, is even worse, making the reader wish that Koontz just hadn't bothered.
Aside from that, the story is solid and still often amusing, and very occasionally emotional and chilling when intended. The conclusion and its admittedly minor revelation about the villains of the piece manages to shed a whole new layer to the narrative the reader has just finished, making up for minor niggles with a suitably uneasy conclusion.
Such an unusual premise and it's a totally absorbing story line (to me, anyway.) There's something great about a character who trusts his inner self and instincts, even in strange circumstances. Odd Thomas is such a likeable character, with great "humanity" about himself ! An easy read, but can give you pause for thoughtful reflection, as well as a good hair raising scare without tons of gore or gratuitous sex that so many average authors rely on to tell their average stories! (If Odd were real, I'd vote to send him to Washington where he could rid us all of the evil ones currently in power!) The "Odds" are a great escape into mystery and mayhem. I'm enjoying all the books I've read in the series (so far,) can't wait to see how it all ends as he returns to Stormy! Odd Thomas Rules!
All I can say is that I was hesistant about the Odd Thomas series because I am not into ghosts, but the books are amazing! The depth of the characters, and Odd's personality and conversations are beyond inspiring, and draw you right into his heart and very offbeat and challenging life.
I have a small library of books that adds up to 100+ books, and I think that of all the characters that I've become attached to, Odd is my favorite. Other than being able to see ghosts, he is about as down-to-earth as a character you can get. With Odd, what you see is what you get. Koontz has done a wonderful job creating a character that you can relate to, other than seeing the ghosts. Lol. This is a set that is worth your time to read!
Odd Thomas is one of those characters that the reader loves and the bad guys stalk. Yet despite their stalking, Odd prevails and makes everything right again. A blend of imagination, a snippit of humor and a cast of unique characters keeps the reader on the edge of his seat...reading into the wee hours of the night. IMHO this would make a great movie, mini series or even a series. It has a uniqueness like non other and Odd is simply perfect in these books!
One of the best books ive read in a long time!
THIS BOOK WAS VERY INTERESTING, IF YOU ARE NOT AFRAID TO BE OPEN TO DIFFERENT THINGS, THEN YOU WOULD ENJOY THIS BOOK!!!!!
Forever Odd doesn't disappoint, in fact I enjoyed it even more than it's prequel. The character Odd Thomas is superb and his unique talents wonderfully described. The story is a delight and unforgettable from the revelation to the terror. I became so absorbed I almost believed Odd Thomas was real. Dean Koonz's FOREVER ODD and another recent read, Bruce Huntly's FUSION, are two of the most entertaining books I have read for a while. Such a pleasure to offset so many other mediocre new offerings.
All I cam say is stick with you will be rewarded; truly
I mean how original is that! I would want to talk to the dead who hang around the 'power ball' offices myself! So anyway, its a heck of a haunt following Odd around!
really enjoyed this book
loved this series so much
I love odd thomas. have read them all. wish there were more.
I loved the first book. I adore Odd's character, who makes you fall in love with him with his slight nerdiness and sweet manner. I thought the story line was very original even though there are plenty of medium or 'ghost whisperer' type stories out there and even more ghost stories in general. I eagerly jumped into the second book and found it to be a little lackluster. It's not a bad book, it's just that compared to the first book 'Odd Thomas,' it falls suprisingly short. I'm about to start the third book and hope it follows way of the first book, not the second.
If you have already began the Odd Thomas series, then you'll love this next installment. Odds' Pico Mundo family all play a bit of a role. Even the lovable "Terrible Chester" pops up. It is a bit different than the first Odd Thomas novel, but nonetheless captivating. I loved it. I hope you will too.
coould not put it down read it in a couple days
This book tied into Odd Thomas perfectly. The description of everything was amazing and I couldn't help but laugh at Koontz's clever comedy.
Every single Odd book sucks me in and won't let me put it down until I've read every last page. Wonderful books!
I was not a huge fan of this piece of the Odd Thomas series. When I look back on the series as a whole this book definatly seems to be a "filler" in the timeline of the main character. If you are a fan of the first novel read this one to keep pace with the series.
This story not only is Odd faced with dealing with spirits, he is faced with being a target. Koontz is very good at leading Odd into the oddest of prediciments.
If you have already read the first installment in the series, then you already have a vested interest in Odd (and his loved ones) but you get to see a real "life lesson induced"- growth in his confidence,understanding, and his forgiveness of other's short comings in this book. If only we could be so humane and compassionate in the real world. An excellent read for anyone who enjoys Mr. Koontz's style (and who doesn't,right?) of story-telling.
Loved Odd Thomas (book 1) and figured Forever Odd (book 2) would follow the same general storyline and character plot from the first book, unfortunately it did not. Yes, book 2 did have the same characters and story background, however it quickly, (without much explanation/closure that I was expecting from the book 1) went into a completely unrelated plot with unknown characters we weren't previously introduced to. Since we were being introduced to these few new characters I had hoped Koontz would expand the overall storyline, however, I'm not sure why we met these few characters and what they're role was in the overall story line. I kept expecting an "ah ha" moment where the plot would double back to book 1 and the storyline would make more sense, no such luck. However, I love Odd's quirky personality, sense of humor and his view of the living and the dead is quite fun/silly. Overall a good read - I can't wait to find out who, where and what Odd Thomas will face next! xoxo_leigh
This second installment in Koontz's Odd Thomas Series lacks the pace and plot of his first. Odd Thomas is a one of a kind character with a unique outlook on life due primarily to his connection to the dead. Odd's observations are insightful and at times even philosophical and his heart is always in the right place, which makes the story very readable. The journey on which he embarks in "Forever Odd," however feels flat and contrived. A one-dimensional villain and the unbelievable twists and turns in this tale tend to take away from the interactions Odd has with the tortured souls only he is privileged to see - a highlight in this series for me. I missed the quick pace and the creepy villain from the first installment.
I have so enjoyed this series. I have read every one of these so far and it is such a refreshing change from the norm. I love the touch of humor in the story and ODD is just a great character. I hope the author can come up with more story lines for Odd, I would hate to see this character just fade away.
I absolutely love the Odd series by Dean Koontz; once I started first one I could not put them down.