Oddball but entertaining ending
Release Date: 15 January
442 pages | Hardback/ ebook Author: Dean Koontz Publisher: HarperCollins
Dean Koontz’s original
paranormal pot- boiler, Odd Thomas, arrived back in 2003 and became an instant bestseller. Since then there’s been a spin- off novella, a humdrum Hollywood movie, a trilogy of graphic novels and a series of sequels – of which Saint Odd is the seventh. This is also, apparently, the final instalment.
A wryly paradoxical conclusion is indicative of the sort of wit that fans of the franchise will probably come to miss the most. Odd Thomas himself, however, is not given the breathless send- off one might hope for. Instead, a considerable bulk of Koontz’s latest book is spent with the likeable psychic making a slightly meandering return to his hometown of Pico Mundo, California, and grappling with the loose ends of previous adventures. The desert setting provides a fittingly claustrophobic backdrop to Thomas’s alienation and loneliness – and creates a dry sense of foreboding – but there’s little here to make the reader feel uneasy. It’s told in the first person, unfolding as an intimate and detailed travelogue, and the author knows how to make his pulpy subject matter seem urgent, but a general sense of suspense is missing.
The text might threaten “sex, savagery and satanic ceremony” but any such transgression is given little detail. This is unfortunate because, thematically, a bit more grit would have complemented the “all or nothing ” sense of Thomas’s ultimate challenge and search for inner peace. Moreover, despite some interesting encounters, from car chases to ravenous coyotes and creepy cultists, an overriding sense of lovelorn despair occasionally makes Saint Odd something of an endurance test.
Perhaps to keep the sense of mystery lingering, Koontz hangs almost every chapter on a cliffhanger – often with the promise of forthcoming anarchic chaos. Unfortunately, the biggest mystery is why it takes so long before the really interesting otherworldly insanity of this series begins to kick in. By this point, there seems to be little point in beginning the action with such a religious sense of restraint. That said, though, this is still Koontz on fine form – and the final payoff for his most enduring creation is positively saintly. Calum Waddell Also out: “You Are Destined To Be Together Forever”, a short ebook which looks back to where it all began for Odd and Stormy.