"The dead don't talk. I don't know why." But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn. Maybe he has a gift, maybe it's a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd's otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different.
A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd's deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.
Today is August 14.
In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares—and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.
About the Author
Hometown:Newport Beach, California
Date of Birth:July 9, 1945
Place of Birth:Everett, Pennsylvania
Education:B.S. (major in English), Shippensburg University, 1966
Read an Excerpt
MY NAME IS ODD THOMAS, THOUGH IN THIS AGE WHEN fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.
I am not a celebrity. I am not the child of a celebrity. I have never been married to, never been abused by, and never provided a kidney for transplantation into any celebrity. Furthermore, I have no desire to be a celebrity.
In fact I am such a nonentity by the standards of our culture that People magazine not only will never feature a piece about me but might also reject my attempts to subscribe to their publication on the grounds that the black-hole gravity of my noncelebrity is powerful enough to suck their entire enterprise into oblivion.
I am twenty years old. To a world-wise adult, I am little more than a child. To any child, however, I'm old enough to be distrusted, to be excluded forever from the magical community of the short and beardless.
Consequently, a demographics expert might conclude that my sole audience is other young men and women currently adrift between their twentieth and twenty-first birthdays.
In truth, I have nothing to say to that narrow audience. In my experience, I don't care about most of the things that other twenty-year-old Americans care about. Except survival, of course.
I lead an unusual life.
By this I do not mean that my life is better than yours. I'm sure that your life is filled with as much happiness, charm, wonder, and abiding fear as anyone could wish. Like me, you are human, after all, and we know what a joy and terror that is.
I mean only that my life is not typical. Peculiar things happen to me that don't happen to other people with regularity, if ever.
For example, I would never have written this memoir if I had not been commanded to do so by a four-hundred-pound man with six fingers on his left hand.
His name is P. Oswald Boone. Everyone calls him Little Ozzie because his father, Big Ozzie, is still alive.
Little Ozzie has a cat named Terrible Chester. He loves that cat. In fact, if Terrible Chester were to use up his ninth life under the wheels of a Peterbilt, I am afraid that Little Ozzie's big heart would not survive the loss.
Personally, I do not have great affection for Terrible Chester because, for one thing, he has on several occasions peed on my shoes.
His reason for doing so, as explained by Ozzie, seems credible, but I am not convinced of his truthfulness. I mean to say that I am suspicious of Terrible Chester's veracity, not Ozzie's.
Besides, I simply cannot fully trust a cat who claims to be fifty-eight years old. Although photographic evidence exists to support this claim, I persist in believing that it's bogus.
For reasons that will become obvious, this manuscript cannot be published during my lifetime, and my effort will not be repaid with royalties while I'm alive. Little Ozzie suggests that I should leave my literary estate to the loving maintenance of Terrible Chester, who, according to him, will outlive all of us.
I will choose another charity. One that has not peed on me.
Anyway, I'm not writing this for money. I am writing it to save my sanity and to discover if I can convince myself that my life has purpose and meaning enough to justify continued existence.
Don't worry: These ramblings will not be insufferably gloomy. P. Oswald Boone has sternly instructed me to keep the tone light.
"If you don't keep it light," Ozzie said, "I'll sit my four-hundred-pound ass on you, and that's not the way you want to die."
Ozzie is bragging. His ass, while grand enough, probably weighs no more than a hundred and fifty pounds. The other two hundred fifty are distributed across the rest of his suffering skeleton.
When at first I proved unable to keep the tone light, Ozzie suggested that I be an unreliable narrator. "It worked for Agatha Christie in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," he said.
In that first-person mystery novel, the nice-guy narrator turns out to be the murderer of Roger Ackroyd, a fact he conceals from the reader until the end.
Understand, I am not a murderer. I have done nothing evil that I am concealing from you. My unreliability as a narrator has to do largely with the tense of certain verbs.
Don't worry about it. You'll know the truth soon enough.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of my story. Little Ozzie and Terrible Chester do not enter the picture until after the cow explodes.
This story began on a Tuesday.
For you, that is the day after Monday. For me, it is a day that, like the other six, brims with the potential for mystery, adventure, and terror.
You should not take this to mean that my life is romantic and magical. Too much mystery is merely an annoyance. Too much adventure is exhausting. And a little terror goes a long way.
Without the help of an alarm clock, I woke that Tuesday morning at five, from a dream about dead bowling-alley employees.
I never set the alarm because my internal clock is so reliable. If I wish to wake promptly at five, then before going to bed I tell myself three times that I must be awake sharply at 4:45.
While reliable, my internal alarm clock for some reason runs fifteen minutes slow. I learned this years ago and have adjusted to the problem.
The dream about the dead bowling-alley employees has troubled my sleep once or twice a month for three years. The details are not yet specific enough to act upon. I will have to wait and hope that clarification doesn't come to me too late.
So I woke at five, sat up in bed, and said, "Spare me that I may serve," which is the morning prayer that my Granny Sugars taught me to say when I was little.
Pearl Sugars was my mother's mother. If she had been my father's mother, my name would be Odd Sugars, further complicating my life.
Granny Sugars believed in bargaining with God. She called Him "that old rug merchant."
Before every poker game, she promised God to spread His holy word or to share her good fortune with orphans in return for a few unbeatable hands. Throughout her life, winnings from card games remained a significant source of income.
Being a hard-drinking woman with numerous interests in addition to poker, Granny Sugars didn't always spend as much time spreading God's word as she promised Him that she would. She believed that God expected to be conned more often than not and that He would be a good sport about it.
You can con God and get away with it, Granny said, if you do so with charm and wit. If you live your life with imagination and verve, God will play along just to see what outrageously entertaining thing you'll do next.
He'll also cut you some slack if you're astonishingly stupid in an amusing fashion. Granny claimed that this explains why uncountable millions of breathtakingly stupid people get along just fine in life.
Of course, in the process, you must never do harm to others in any serious way, or you'll cease to amuse Him. Then payment comes due for the promises you didn't keep.
In spite of drinking lumberjacks under the table, regularly winning at poker with stone-hearted psychopaths who didn't like to lose, driving fast cars with utter contempt for the laws of physics (but never while intoxicated), and eating a diet rich in pork fat, Granny Sugars died peacefully in her sleep at the age of seventy-two. They found her with a nearly empty snifter of brandy on the nightstand, a book by her favorite novelist turned to the last page, and a smile on her face.
Judging by all available evidence, Granny and God understood each other pretty well.
Pleased to be alive that Tuesday morning, on the dark side of the dawn, I switched on my nightstand lamp and surveyed the chamber that served as my bedroom, living room, kitchen, and dining room. I never get out of bed until I know who, if anyone, is waiting for me.
If visitors either benign or malevolent had spent part of the night watching me sleep, they had not lingered for a breakfast chat. Sometimes simply getting from bed to bathroom can take the charm out of a new day.
Only Elvis was there, wearing the lei of orchids, smiling, and pointing one finger at me as if it were a cocked gun.
Although I enjoy living above this particular two-car garage, and though I find my quarters cozy, Architectural Digest will not be seeking an exclusive photo layout. If one of their glamour scouts saw my place, he'd probably note, with disdain, that the second word in the magazine's name is not, after all, Indigestion.
The life-size cardboard figure of Elvis, part of a theater-lobby display promoting Blue Hawaii, was where I'd left it. Occasionally, it moves—or is moved—during the night.
I showered with peach-scented soap and peach shampoo, which were given to me by Stormy Llewellyn. Her real first name is Bronwen, but she thinks that makes her sound like an elf.
My real name actually is Odd.
According to my mother, this is an uncorrected birth-certificate error. Sometimes she says they intended to name me Todd. Other times she says it was Dobb, after a Czechoslovakian uncle.
My father insists that they always intended to name me Odd, although he won't tell me why. He notes that I don't have a Czechoslovakian uncle.
My mother vigorously asserts the existence of the uncle, though she refuses to explain why I've never met either him or her sister, Cymry, to whom he is supposedly married.
Although my father acknowledges the existence of Cymry, he is adamant that she has never married. He says that she is a freak, but what he means by this I don't know, for he will say no more.
My mother becomes infuriated at the suggestion that her sister is any kind of freak. She calls Cymry a gift from God but otherwise remains uncommunicative on the subject.
I find it easier to live with the name Odd than to contest it. By the time I was old enough to realize that it was an unusual name, I had grown comfortable with it.
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.
Cards and birthmarks aside, I love her intensely. I would throw myself off a high cliff for her if she asked me to jump. I would, of course, need to understand the reasoning behind her request.
Fortunately for me, Stormy is not the kind of person to ask such a thing lightly. She expects nothing of others that she herself would not do. In treacherous currents, she is kept steady by a moral anchor the size of a ship.
She once brooded for an entire day about whether to keep fifty cents that she found in the change-return slot of a pay phone. At last she mailed it to the telephone company.
Returning to the cliff for a moment, I don't mean to imply that I'm afraid of Death. I'm just not ready to go out on a date with him.
Smelling like a peach, as Stormy likes me, not afraid of Death, having eaten a blueberry muffin, saying good-bye to Elvis with the words "Taking care of business" in a lousy imitation of his voice, I set off for work at the Pico Mundo Grille.
Although the dawn had just broken, it had already flash-fried into a hard yellow yolk on the eastern horizon.
The town of Pico Mundo is in that part of southern California where you can never forget that in spite of all the water imported by the state aqueduct system, the true condition of the territory is desert. In March we bake. In August, which this was, we broil.
The ocean lay so far to the west that it was no more real to us than the Sea of Tranquility, that vast dark plain on the face of the moon.
Occasionally, when excavating for a new subdivision of tract homes on the outskirts of town, developers had struck rich veins of seashells in their deeper diggings. Once upon an ancient age, waves lapped these shores.
If you put one of those shells to your ear, you will not hear the surf breaking but only a dry mournful wind, as if the shell has forgotten its origins.
At the foot of the exterior steps that led down from my small apartment, in the early sun, Penny Kallisto waited like a shell on a shore. She wore red sneakers, white shorts, and a sleeveless white blouse.
Ordinarily, Penny had none of that preadolescent despair to which some kids prove so susceptible these days. She was an ebullient twelve-year-old, outgoing and quick to laugh.
This morning, however, she looked solemn. Her blue eyes darkened as does the sea under the passage of a cloud.
I glanced toward the house, fifty feet away, where my landlady, Rosalia Sanchez, would be expecting me at any minute to confirm that she had not disappeared during the night. The sight of herself in a mirror was never sufficient to put her fear to rest.
Without a word, Penny turned away from the stairs. She walked toward the front of the property.
Like a pair of looms, using sunshine and their own silhouettes, two enormous California live oaks wove veils of gold and purple, which they flung across the driveway.
Penny appeared to shimmer and to darkle as she passed through this intricate lace of light and shade. A black mantilla of shadow dimmed the luster of her blond hair, its elaborate pattern changing as she moved.
Afraid of losing her, I hurried down the last of the steps and followed the girl. Mrs. Sanchez would have to wait, and worry.
Penny led me past the house, off the driveway, to a birdbath on the front lawn. Around the base of the pedestal that supported the basin, Rosalia Sanchez had arranged a collection of dozens of the seashells, all shapes and sizes, that had been scooped from the hills of Pico Mundo.
Penny stooped, selected a specimen about the size of an orange, stood once more, and held it out to me.
The architecture resembled that of a conch. The rough exterior was brown and white, the polished interior shone pearly pink.
Cupping her right hand as though she still held the shell, Penny brought it to her ear. She cocked her head to listen, thus indicating what she wanted me to do.
When I put the shell to my ear, I did not hear the sea. Neither did I hear the melancholy desert wind that I mentioned previously.
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
"Once in a very great while, an author does everything right—as Koontz has in this marvelous novel.... the story, like most great stories, runs on character—and here Koontz has created a hero whose honest, humble voice will resonate with many.... This is Koontz working at his pinnacle, providing terrific entertainment that deals seriously with some of the deepest themes of human existence: the nature of evil, the grip of fate and the power of love."—Publishers Weekly
"Dean Koontz almost occupies a genre of his own. He is a master at building suspense and holding the reader spellbound."—Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Dean Koontz is not just a master of our darkest dreams, but also a literary juggler."—The Times (London)
"Once more Dean Koontz presents readers with a story and cast of characters guaranteed to entertain."—Tulsa World
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Odd Thomas is an amazing character, and I quickly learned why it is one of Dean Koontz's favorite characters. This book is full of drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and has a touch of romance that capture your heart. Koontz doesn't leave out comedy, though. Odd is very witty, and kept me laughing throughout the day. A very good book!
My son gave me this book and I almost didn't read it, because I had heard Dean Koontz is much like Stephen King and I'm not really a big Stephen King fan. (King is the rare writer where I find the movie adaptations of his novels far better than the books) Anyway, I'm glad I did get to this one. Odd Thomas is such a loveable likeable and unlikely hero. Simple and with a strong sense of humility, he nevertheless possesses the un-asked-for ability to see dead people. And yes, he may have very well borrowed the idea from the Sixth Sense, but his character is so well developed, it is easy to overlook. This story has something for everyone. It is a story of the paranormal, a story of suspense, a comedy, a tragedy, and a love story all wrapped up in one nice package. Interestingly, when reading the few negative reviews, the people mostly mentioned that they felt the book was far too wordy and provided much too much detail. That is exactly why I don't care for Stephen King's books, but this to me seemed much more tame. All the possibly unnecessary conversations Odd Thomas has with his friends and acquaintennces serve to demonstrate Odd Thomas' wonderful heart and strong character. Which makes you feel that much more sad for him at the end. My only complaint with this story is that he seems to make some real jumps in assumption to figure out who the culprit is, and I had a tough time buying the reasoning for the slaughter. What would possess anyone to do such things? No past history of abuse? No plot to gain some kind of riches? Still, it was a good read. And since I didn't know until just now, I am pleasantly surprised to find out this is part of a series. I'll have to pick up the next one.
Like Odd Thomas, I see what most others do not. I laughed, cried, and just could not put this book down. You will not be disappointed !!
Odd thomas was a great surprise for me, I have read other books by Kootz and some were hits and some misses and while I tend to be a king fan more than a kootz this really drew me in and didn't want to put it down again, I originally picked this book up at an airport terminal thinking I read a few pages to keep from boredom and then never see it again, but long after the fight and into my hotel i read it and actually had to force myself to get out of my hotel and get something to eat otherwise I wouldn't of ate anything the whole day. No wonder they are making a movie of this book cause it clearly hss the making of a great movie, I only hope so much of what the book initial meaning and feelings dont get lost on the big screen. in a sea of blood, gore, nudity and extreme sex this little gem show a softer side of horror yet still grabs your attention, thought it was a great read highly recconmend if a fan of the genre
I kept noticing this book at my local store however wasn't sure I would enjoy reading it. Boy, was I surprised what a great character Odd Thomas is. I didnt want to put this book down and can't wait to read the continuing adventures of Odd!
I have been an avid reader of sci-fi, suspense, thrillers, horror, mystery, and any combination or cross-genre of the above since I was old enough to choose my own reading material. Only two series in all these 40-plus years have ever made me hesitate to turn off my bedside light or want to shine a flashlight into my locked car before opening it to get in: The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz and the Jack Daniels series by J A Konrath. In brief, both these authors scare the holy crap out of me. Koontz because of the places he demonstrates the human mind can go, and Konrath for the things he suggests one human can do to another. In this first of the Odd Thomas books, you'll meet Odd, his one true love, and Evil. I don't mean Stephen King's sheriff in The Stand evil; I mean put the book in the freezer Evil. It took me days longer than normal to finish this book, because it unnerved me to the point I would literally have to put it down, place another book on top of it, and leave it alone until I could get my nerve back up. Odd is a sweet, pure person in a world where bad things happen, and really Bad things exist. His talent for being able to see and -somewhat- communicate with the dead brings him too close to these Bad things and this Evil. Excellent book, great series, but not for the light suspense crowd.
I've read all Koontz books and Odd is one of my favorite characters! This book is not his gory,twisted genre of horror but more of the unlikely hero thrust into the supernatural. If your looking for horror this is not it, which I think explains some of the negative reviews, however the story, characters and witty banter are what makes this series unforgettable! A must read!
CD/unabridged/Fiction: This novel is not really a thriller or a horror novel. It is more of a Life Expectancy (which was really good), but only for a YA audience. It is the day in the life of Odd. A young fry cook who sees dead people. He keeps his life simple with a small apartment and a caring girlfriend, Stormy. With the exception of Stormy, few people know of Odd's seeing dead people secret, and those who do only know parts, but not all. Then comes the day "fungus man" comes in to Odd's diner. Fungus man eats as if there is no tomorrow. And there just may not be, for Odd goes in search of fungus man's secrets. The narration of the book was done well by David Aaron Baker. The narration is done in first person, so you have the voice and feel of Odd. However, there are a lot of descriptions that go on forever. Since I was listening, I didn't have the choice to read it faster or skip over it. There are two points in the book that surprise you where you do a double-take. I understand why so many people like it. It is a story of an ordinary man with extraordinary talents that he wants to keep low-key. There is a certain amount of love story in it too. I do recommend it and am making my teen read the hardback.
I love this series by Dean Koontz. Odd is such a great character.
This book & series are one of Koontz greatest acheivements. He brings this story so alive making the reader feel as though we are being told & carried into this fantastic adventure by a mystical shaman whose hasput you in a dream scape so you live the story as it unfolds in its layers of mystery,laugh with true delight at the humor; go through the frustration and satisfaction as he does, he'll share his love & triumpts. You will laugh, love, be thrilled & amazed from sitting on the edge of your seat, laughing out loud, curling up with despair. Have your faith in humanity & yourself tested along with the magical shaman story teller you won't regret it nor will you put the book down until your ready to read the next get caught up in Koontz amazing new perspective in this thriller
I thought the book started off slow and slightly difficult to follow at first. But How can you not love the main character Odd Thomas? It is a great combination of drama, suspense, and humor
Another of Koontz's best
Memorable, great read!
This book is truly great. The characters the ghosts, the story line. It felt a little creepy at times, but I really enjoyed it and was very surprised by the story (hint hint!!). Read it, you'll love it. This is about the 15th book I read by Dean Koontz. He is awesome
As much as I might like to choose something more high brow, the truth is Odd may be my favorite character from literature. He is just too likable. Take a genuine and honest character, and give him a gift/curse that sets him apart and makes him and his tests in life a little stranger and harder, and you have this protagonist. The world shown in this book, and the series is one that is full of evil, real and pure evil, not a caricature. And yet you can't shake the feeling that good will overcome corny as that may sound. Parts of the rest of the series for me add too much weird into one world and mixes genres a little too much for my taste. Ironically, the genre mixing is part of what I find enjoyable about the series, but sometimes I think it went too far even for me. But even then they are still good reads. Even if you just read because you like the character it would be enough. I can't wait to read the conclusion to the series. I have enjoyed them all. But the first is by far the greatest of them...so far. p.s. As far as adaptations go, I thought the movie did a pretty good job. It was fun to watch. Of course, "the book was much better," yada yada yada. And then did have to leave some things out for time. But I think it captured a lot of it's heart. Definitely the best adaptation of a Koontz book that I have seen.
Read this after watching the movie on Netflix. Really like the book I will continue with the series. Watch the movie too you will like it.
Again, Dean Koontz has spun a magnificent tale. Odd Thomas was fast paced and thrilling with a fine sprinkling of humor and romance. Now, on to the next book in the series...
This if my favorite book that i have ever read so far! Words almost cannot describe how much i love this book. I thought this book is perfect and i never wanted to put it down because It was amazing!! I was just curious at first but then by the time I was through half the book I knew Odd was going to be one of my favorite characters and it just keeps getting better all the way through to the end. Its not a really fast paced book but its defnitely not too slow I really enjoyed reading this book and I would recomend it to anybody. I cant wait to read the next in the series.
Odd thomas is a interesting read. I liked it and the characters were easily to get involved with. Overall book was good and I cant wait to read number two. Ending was a bit odd, but still cool.
This is a very short story which Koontz has turned into a 400 page novel by going on and on and on and on and on and on and on about things which have nothing to do with the story
Avid Koontz fan- sad to say this is the worst one ever. It could have been a romance, a ghost story, a stoner's dream.......it wound up being a not much. Read the Christopher Snow novels, Dragon Tears or Strangers and then see what you think of Odd Thomas.
Not that excited to pick up 2nd book in series though. It wasn't that consuming and interesting to make me crave more. Still a good read and very different from what I've read previously which was refreshing.
Koontz never disappoints.
Odd Thomas, a short-order cook, has supernatural powers. He sees what others don't. And. He does more than see, he acts upon it. Odd is weird, simple and straightforward. He's very social, visiting his friends continually. One character described him as, "fountain of crazy conversation." That he was. I never knew if he was serious or messing with someone. Elvis and an exploding cow make this story a level-up from strange. So many interesting characters littered the pages of this book. Terri Stambaugh, the owner of the cafe Odd worked at, was an Elvis expert. She could recall what Elvis was doing on any date Odd threw at her. Then there was Stormy, Odd's girlfriend. Witty and quick-tongued made her the perfect person for Odd. Every emotion was tapped into while reading this novel. I laughed, feared, grossed out, chuckled and held my breath. I screamed at Odd to "not go in there." I agree with another reviewer. "This is a genre all its own." I didn't see the ending coming, it hit me like a punch in the stomach and left me breathless. Wow!