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Odd Hours (Odd Thomas Series #4)by Dean Koontz
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Dean Koontz's The City.
Only a handful of fictional characters are recognized by first name alone. Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas is one such literary hero, who has come alive in readers’ imaginations as he explores the greatest mysteries of /i>/b>/i>
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Dean Koontz's The City.
Only a handful of fictional characters are recognized by first name alone. Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas is one such literary hero, who has come alive in readers’ imaginations as he explores the greatest mysteries of this world and the next with his inimitable wit, heart, and quiet gallantry. Now Koontz follows Odd as he is drawn onward, to a destiny he cannot imagine. Haunted by dreams of an all-encompassing red tide, Odd is pulled inexorably to the sea, to a small California coastal town where nothing is as it seems.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Koontz forges the kind of sweeping melodrama complete with screwball laughs, nail-biting moments, and surprises that is the bedrock of American narrative fiction.”—Booklist
“One of the most remarkable and appealing characters in current fiction . . . a page-turning account . . . beautifully written . . . another literary home run.”—The Virginian-Pilot
“Takes off at breakneck speed . . . a superb story from one of our contemporary masters.”—San Antonio Express-News
Read an Excerpt
It’s only life. We all get through it.
Not all of us complete the journey in the same condition. Along the way, some lose their legs or eyes in accidents or altercations, while others skate through the years with nothing worse to worry about than an occasional bad-hair day.
I still possessed both legs and both eyes, and even my hair looked all right when I rose that Wednesday morning in late January. If I returned to bed sixteen hours later, having lost all of my hair but nothing else, I would consider the day a triumph. Even minus a few teeth, I’d call it a triumph.
When I raised the window shades in my bedroom, the cocooned sky was gray and swollen, windless and still, but pregnant with a promise of change.
Overnight, according to the radio, an airliner had crashed in Ohio. Hundreds perished. The sole survivor, a ten-month-old child, had been found upright and unscathed in a battered seat that stood in a field of scorched and twisted debris.
Throughout the morning, under the expectant sky, low sluggish waves exhausted themselves on the shore. The Pacific was gray and awash with inky shadows, as if sinuous sea beasts of fantastical form swam just below the surface.
During the night, I had twice awakened from a dream in which the tide flowed red and the sea throbbed with a terrible light.
As nightmares go, I’m sure you’ve had worse. The problem is that a few of my dreams have come true, and people have died.
While I prepared breakfast for my employer, the kitchen radio brought news that the jihadists who had the previous day seized an ocean liner in the Mediterranean were now beheading passengers.
Years ago I stopped watching news programs on television. I can tolerate words and the knowledge they impart, but the images undo me.
Because he was an insomniac who went to bed at dawn, Hutch ate breakfast at noon. He paid me well, and he was kind, so I cooked to his schedule without complaint.
Hutch took his meals in the dining room, where the draperies were always closed. Not one bright sliver of any windowpane remained exposed.
He often enjoyed a film while he ate, lingering over coffee until the credits rolled. That day, rather than cable news, he watched Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in Twentieth Century.
Eighty-eight years old, born in the era of silent films, when Lillian Gish and Rudolph Valentino were stars, and having later been a successful actor, Hutch thought less in words than in images, and he dwelt in fantasy.
Beside his plate stood a bottle of Purell sanitizing gel. He lavished it on his hands not only before and after eating, but also at least twice during a meal.
Like most Americans in the first decade of the new century, Hutch feared everything except what he ought to fear.
When TV-news programs ran out of stories about drunk, drug-addled, murderous, and otherwise crazed celebrities—which happened perhaps twice a year—they sometimes filled the brief gap with a sensationalistic piece on that rare flesh-eating bacteria.
Consequently, Hutch feared contracting the ravenous germ. From time to time, like a dour character in a tale by Poe, he huddled in his lamplit study, brooding about his fate, about the fragility of his flesh, about the insatiable appetite of his microscopic foe.
He especially dreaded that his nose might be eaten away.
Long ago, his face had been famous. Although time had disguised him, he still took pride in his appearance.
I had seen a few of Lawrence Hutchison’s movies from the 1940s and ’50s. I liked them. He’d been a commanding presence on screen.
Because he had not appeared on camera for five decades, Hutch was less known for his acting than for his children’s books about a swashbuckling rabbit named Nibbles. Unlike his creator, Nibbles was fearless.
Film money, book royalties, and a habit of regarding investment opportunities with paranoid suspicion had left Hutch financially secure in his old age. Nevertheless, he worried that an explosive rise in the price of oil or a total collapse in the price of oil would lead to a worldwide financial crisis that would leave him penniless.
His house faced the boardwalk, the beach, the ocean. Surf broke less than a minute’s stroll from his front door.
Over the years, he had come to fear the sea. He could not bear to sleep on the west side of the house, where he might hear the waves crawling along the shore.
Therefore, I was quartered in the ocean-facing master suite at the front of the house. He slept in a guest room at the back.
Within a day of arriving in Magic Beach, more than a month previous to the red-tide dream, I had taken a job as Hutch’s cook, doubling as his chauffeur on those infrequent occasions when he wanted to go out.
My experience at the Pico Mundo Grill served me well. If you can make hash browns that wring a flood from salivary glands, fry bacon to the crispness of a cracker without parching it, and make pancakes as rich as pudding yet so fluffy they seem to be at risk of floating off the plate, you will always find work.
At four-thirty that afternoon in late January, when I stepped into the parlor with Boo, my dog, Hutch was in his favorite armchair, scowling at the television, which he had muted.
“Bad news, sir?”
His deep and rounded voice rolled an ominous note into every syllable: “Mars is warming.”
“We don’t live on Mars.”
“It’s warming at the same rate as the earth.”
“Were you planning to move to Mars to escape global warming?”
He indicated the silenced anchorman on the TV. “This means the sun is the cause of both, and nothing can be done about it. Nothing.”
“Well, sir, there’s always Jupiter or whatever planet lies beyond Mars.”
He fixed me with that luminous gray-eyed stare that conveyed implacable determination when he had played crusading district attorneys and courageous military officers.
“Sometimes, young man, I think you may be from beyond Mars.”
“Nowhere more exotic than Pico Mundo, California. If you won’t need me for a while, sir, I thought I’d go out for a walk.”
Hutch rose to his feet. He was tall and lean. He kept his chin lifted but craned his head forward as does a man squinting to sharpen his vision, which might have been a habit that he developed in the years before he had his cataracts removed.
“Go out?” He frowned as he approached. “Dressed like that?”
I was wearing sneakers, jeans, and a sweatshirt.
He was not troubled by arthritis and remained graceful for his age. Yet he moved with precision and caution, as though expecting to fracture something.
Not for the first time, he reminded me of a great blue heron stalking tide pools.
“You should put on a jacket. You’ll get pneumonia.”
“It’s not that chilly today,” I assured him.
“You young people think you’re invulnerable.”
“Not this young person, sir. I’ve got every reason to be astonished that I’m not already permanently horizontal.”
Indicating the words mystery train on my sweatshirt, he asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. I found it in a thrift shop.”
“I have never been in a thrift shop.”
“You haven’t missed much.”
“Do only very poor people shop there or is the criteria merely thriftiness?”
“They welcome all economic classes, sir.”
“Then I should go one day soon. Make an adventure of it.”
“You won’t find a genie in a bottle,” I said, referring to his film The Antique Shop.
“No doubt you’re too modern to believe in genies and such. How do you get through life when you’ve nothing to believe in?”
“Oh, I have beliefs.”
Lawrence Hutchison was less interested in my beliefs than in the sound of his well-trained voice. “I keep an open mind regarding all things supernatural.”
I found his self-absorption endearing. Besides, if he were to have been curious about me, I would have had a more difficult time keeping all my secrets.
He said, “My friend Adrian White was married to a fortune-teller who called herself Portentia.”
I traded anecdotes with him: “This girl I used to know, Stormy Llewellyn—at the carnival, we got a card from a fortune-telling machine called Gypsy Mummy.”
“Portentia used a crystal ball and prattled a lot of mumbo jumbo, but she was the real thing. Adrian adored her.”
“The card said Stormy and I would be together forever. But it didn’t turn out that way.”
From the Hardcover edition.
What People are Saying About This
“It starts with a bang and goes like a house afire straight through to the penultimate chapter…. Koontz forges the kind of sweeping melodrama, complete with screwball laughs, nail-biting moments, and surprises, that is the bedrock of American narrative entertainment.”—Booklist
“The nice young fry cook with the occult powers is Koontz’s most likable creation.” —New York Times
“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
“I can’t wait for the next one.”—Mark Graham, Rocky Mountain News
“Odd Thomas [is] exactly the kind of hero that’s needed.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinal
“Odd Thomas is another name for courage, truth, and devotion to your fellow man.” —Baton Rouge Advocate
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, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.
- Newport Beach, California
- Date of Birth:
- July 9, 1945
- Place of Birth:
- Everett, Pennsylvania
- B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I love love love Odd but I felt this entry in the Odd saga is just a blip. Nothing was finished and I was left wondering why DK didn't complete the book, I guess he was too busy describing the fog! Looking forward to the next one with hopes that it will be a more complete novel rather than a short story!
I absolutley adore Odd Thomas. I have recommended the series to all my reader friends. I almost recommended the book for my book club, and now I'm glad I didn't. I loved the book up to the last couple of chapters. I kept reading and thinking 'There has to be more pages!' I was sooooooo disappointed when the book ended. It felt very undone. The build up with Annamarie was such a let down. This book 4 felt much more like a commercial for book 5 than it seemed like a novel in and of itself. There are way to many questions not even addressed in this book. For example - How does the T-shirt with 'Mystery Train' printed on it tie in to the story? Who is Annamarie and where is she from? What is going on with the coyotes - are they from Fear Nothing? Mr. Koontz - next time you write a story with such a poor, chopped up and hurried ending, please do an epilogue of something so I know that you just didn't forget to submit the last few chapters to your editor before your book went to print.
From an avid Dean Koontz reader for years, this work is far from his best. Odd's character lacked much of his normal diverse depth.
I could not wait for this book to come out. I had it marked on calendar at desk and on computer. I started reading it the night I bought it but just could not make sense of what and why things where happening. The past books in the serious I could not put down until done. This one I'm scanning pages. I couldn't find the plot until around chapter 5. The beginning had me thinking Dean Koontz was just getting it out fast, that it wasn't even the same writer as the others. I really just want to return it to store. I desperately hope that in the next book Mr. Koontz goes back to the original Odd Thomas that I fell in love with in the beginning.
I've read all the Odd books (after completing this one) and all I can say is that this series is a keeper! In Odd Hours, Odd finds himself in yet another perilous situation. Along the way he meets quirky characters in his quest to stop doomsday. This book is definitely enjoyable so please read!
Odd Thomas sees ghosts, and although they can hear him, they cannot communicate with him other than through gestures. After leaving the seminary, Odd has taken a job in Magic Beach, California as cook for a film star of the 1940s and '50s who now writes children's books. Elvis has gone over to the other side but now Frank Sinatra is hanging out with Odd, as is Odd's ghost dog Boo. Odd has a recurring apocalyptic dream which disturbs him. On the beach, he sees a young pregnant woman and recognizes her as part of his dream. Odd stops to talk to her, and from that point, everything seems to go wrong. Three brutes try to kill him but Odd manages to get away. He takes refuge in a church only to be betrayed by the pastor, who calls the police. Through wily measures, Odd learns officials of Magic Beach are corrupt and have cleared the way for terrorists to bring nuclear weapons into America. Koontz excels at moving his plots forward at a fast pace, packed with action and suspense. Odd Thomas is an endearing character, a simple man who wants nothing more than to live a simple life which, through his "gift", is denied him. Although questions are left unanswered, Koontz is certain to clear things up with following books in this series.
I love Odd and Koontz,but its like he wrote this on his lunch hour and forgot to finish it.I was disappointed.Koontzs is a whole lot better than this.
i was so excited to get this this book and see what was next for our hero and his ghostly companinons, but it was not all that i thought it would be. a poor follow up to the other riviting novels
Definitely not as good as the other Odd books.
I enjoyed the other Odd books. However, this one was a disapointment. I felt like Odd stumbled around in the fog for 3/4 of the book.
I've read just about everything Mr. Koontz has written and I have to say this book was really a let down. I was waiting 4-5 chapters for the actual storyline to unfold and then it was great in the middle but it ended weird for me....I'm still not sure. what happened at the end. I recommend it but only because I like his work...Heres to hoping that the Frankestein series gets done sometime soon.
I looked forward to this installment of the Odd Thomas books. But, although I read it in one day, I was bored through alot of it, perplexed through some of it and at the end just disappointed in it. Dean Koontz is one of my favorite writers but he missed the mark on this book.
In rereading this in anticipation of the next installment, I keep drifting back to Chris Snow and hoping that my fav character meets my second fav and Chris comes back. There are so many refernces to the Fear Nothing series it gives me hope. Oddie is great though, and if you read other DK series you get drawn back to interwoven references. Makes me wonder what Oddie might find himself in.
I was introduced to this series by my primary care physician of all people. I must say that I am "easy" when it comes to Odd. I eagerly await the next episode. This one did not disappoint. It may be the best yet, but anyone reading this series should start with the first book,"Odd Thomas," and work forward to really understand the character fully and to really appreciate this book. This one is full of the usual quirky characters, the quirkiest of whom is our protagonist, Odd Thomas. Odd has visions about events of death and destruction and works to prevent those events from happening or, at least, lessening their impact. In this episode, Odd is still in exile from his desert home of Pico Mundo. This time we find him in the beach community of Magic Beach. He is working for a has-been actor who is spending his twilight years screening his old movies and writing children's books. On an afternoon off, Odd stumbles across a plot that I will not reveal, but it is part supernatural, part thriller and typically Odd. To enjoy these books, you must suspend much belief. I think that was the point my physician was making--in our high stress lives, we all need some escapism.
The fourth in the Odd Thomas series, "Odd Hours" finds the quirky and lovable hero working for a former actor and children's book author in a small California coastal town, where he soon learns of a terrorist plot to smuggle nuclear weapons into the U.S. This is no military espionage thriller however, just another wonderfully amusing and uplifting story about one of the most engaging, interesting, and yes, odd characters in current popular fiction. Though the terrorist plot is somewhat hokey (and the reason for my 4 star, not 5 star rating), if you're able to suspend disbelief you'll find yourself feverishly turning pages, a smile on your face in some places and your heart pounding with suspense in others. When are we going to see an "Odd" TV series?
Also recommended: "A STRANGER LIES THERE" - winner of the Malice Domestic Award for best first mystery. This web site's Editorial Review gave it "two thumbs way up", calling it "an appealing blend of SoCal noir and psychological suspense ala DEAN KOONTZ." I agree.
I wanted to like this Odd Thomas book...I liked all the others. Unfortunately, it left so many thing unanswered and seemed rambling and without purpose. I will always be a Dean Koontz fan 'I first read him when I read a book by Leigh Nichols' and look forward to his next book. I do wish that he would wrap up the Frankenstein series also... :'
I love the Odd Thomas series. This time though Kuntz really got carried away. Usually on the verge being called overly descriptive, on this one he crossed over the line! This book had a great plot and a good cast of characters but on several occasions I found myself drifting away from the story to avoid some of the needless narration. This book should only have been 200 pages. This is the result, no doubt, of the publisher dlctating the page count to the author. The plot and characters and of course, Odd thomas, made the read worth 4 stars to me. Ya got to love Oddie!!!
I have been reading Dean Koontz for years. I have read the other three Odd Thomas books, and I enjoyed the series. To me Odd Hours was not as engaging as the previous books in the series. I would recommend this book to those that have read the rest of the series.
"The problem is that a few of my dreams have come have died." That sentence from page one confused me and I apparently didn't recover because I finished the book still confused. I think I'll stick with short stories...
A word of caution, if a friend offers you a book, which they enjoyed and feel that “it is one you will like,” check to see if it is the fourth of a series. If it is, and you elect to read it, you run the risk of: A) being confused as to whom the characters are, B) lost in the plot (as the ground work for the plot points having been laid in previous installments, C) the friend being wrong and the book is a waste of time or D) the friend was right and now you have to read the entire series, the main character being so well developed, the plot so engaging and the questions left unanswered too great to be left unaddressed. The correct answer for this book is “D.” Although I did see the movie based upon the first novel in this series, I was delighted to see such a fresh, well penned, sparkling novel so late in the series (this is the fourth in a predicted six novel series). I had listened to Koontz’ book, Intensity, on tape years ago and decided then, after getting both my heart rate down and my breathing restarted, that I would not read another of his works. Then I found the writing clear, realistic, spot-on descriptive and terrifying. In this work, his prose is dazzling without being pretentious, his characters are clearly written with unique voices, his action and settings are so exact the reader could be walking in the scene. Even though the story is a thriller, it is not scary. The dead visit Odd Thomas. They are unable to speak but they manage to communicate with the hero by miming, gestures and, sometimes, causing things to move about. He has learned those who visit him are not ready to “move on” and hang around wanting to finish things undone while they were alive, sometimes he can help with that task. Frank Sinatra is a returning Specter in this novel (a classy touch used to perfection in the course of the story). In this installment, Odd, who tries to live as much “off the grid” as possible, has a vision of the world in flames. In the course of his life he has learned to pay attention to such visualizations and soon finds himself over his head in danger, intrigue and discovery. The book never drags, Mr. Koontz spins an adult story without the need for off-color plot points, vulgar language or an undue amount of violence (what violence exists is not graphic). By the time Odd moves from Magic Beach, CA, he has learned more of himself, discovered deeper mysteries, has picked up new “friends” and fought back the Shadows enough for a new day to dawn. This book, as I expect the series, has deep Spiritual undertones. The main character is named, literally, Odd and his life is spent in the bewilderment of what life lived fully engaged offers – excitement, wonder, danger, exhilaration, new friends and a sense of being connected to “Something Greater.” Mr. Koontz takes a fantastical idea and writes that story so well that the reader expects it to be true. This is helped because we (the reader) want there to be someone who can see perils and be brave enough to face them, who is willing to keep company with those who have “unfinished business” and help them “get done,” and who is not blinded by the scarred exterior to the power hidden by the marks of pain. I will enjoy reading all of the Odd Thomas novels. It speaks of a story familiar to my dreams.