Book Reviews

Book Review: Odd Hours by Dean Koontz – Fun Read with Lots of Action

I used to be a huge fan of Dean Koontz.  I began reading his stories in my teens and would wait for his next one with a good deal of anticipation.  Somewhere, though, over the last decade or so he lost me as an audience.  Too many of his books left me frustrated in the end.  I’d feel that I invested quite a bit in the characters only to be served up an ending that would make me feel like throwing the book against the wall it was so stupid.

When I saw Odd Hours in a bargain bin, I decided to give him another shot.  It’s actually the fourth book in a series of stories involving a character known as Odd Thomas.  That’s his real name – not a nickname, although it suits him.  Odd can see the spirits of dead people, including that of a beloved dog who accompanies him throughout the book.  He also has a heightened sense of awareness that enables him to frequently predict what’s about to happen. It’s not seeing the future in the sense that he could predict an airplane crash, but it’s more about knowing what might be around the next corner and that for some reason he was meant to be there.

Odd has found a job in the town of Magic Beach as a companion to a retired actor. One evening he takes a walk on the beach with his ghost-dog and finds himself drawn to a young pregnant girl on the boardwalk.  Unfortunately, they also run into a group of thugs who seem to want something from the girl and Odd out of the picture.

Odd Hours follows a night in the life of Odd Thomas as events unfold around him as the two of them are tailed by the thugs they initially encounter.  The story is told in the first person from Odd’s perspective, allowing the reader to be inside his head and understand the intuition and psychic gifts he has.  Besides the mysterious girl named Annamaria, Odd gets help from a variety of interesting characters including the retired actor, a lady with similar intuition named Birdie Hopkins, and a woman burned as a child by her father named Blossom.  All are colorful characters that are typical of Koontz’s stories and make the story interesting.  Oh, and there’s the ghost of Frank Sinatra as well.

The flow is good as I followed events and learned things just as Odd did since it’s from his perspective.  His interaction with other characters, while packed full of action, can also be quite humorous.  As he wages a psychological battle with the town’s sheriff, events that play out are actually pretty humorous.

If there’s one fault I found with Odd Hours, it’s that the story felt as if it weren’t complete.  Sure, events in the town of Magic Beach seemed to play themselves out all that they could.  But there is still a great mystery as to who and what Annamaria is and why Odd is there to protect her.  I felt as if there was more left to the story that should have been included in this book.

Odd Hours was good enough to draw me back into reading Koontz, particularly the earlier novels in this series.  I thought at first I might have read one already as the character of Odd Thomas seemed to be somewhat familiar, but after checking I realized it’s just the degree of similarity many of Koontz’s characters share.

You don’t have to read the earlier books in the series to appreciate Odd Hours, but it does fill in the gaps better than the snippets and hints in this story.  I think this series is moving Koontz back toward good writing that isn’t as frustrating as some of his books were in the last 10 – 15 years.

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