Over the years, I have been fortunate to have had many friends to share my life with. Many of them were actual, for-real, genuinely alive people.
Many others were figments of my own imagination.
But many of my best friends have been figments of other imaginations. The best of them as alive, as believably real and flawed as many of the breathing humans I have known. Some even more so. I first went into space with Kip Russell. I shared a thousand adventures with Tom Swift and Huck Finn and Beowulf Shaeffer and Slippery Jim diGriz. Jake Barnes… well, I got my heart broken with him. I learned a kind of faith from John Wheelwright. And I would give anything to have one last drink with Jake Stonebender. The list goes on.
Today I have a new friend, and his name is Odd. Really, his name is Odd Thomas. It’s on his birth certificate. Odd sees dead people. Yeah, yeah, I know: It’s a movie quote. With a thousand jokes attached to it. Bear with me.
As I said, Odd sees dead people, people caught between this world and the next. People caught by love; by regret; by the need to tell somebody what happened to them; by, well, Odd doesn’t know all the reasons because the dead don’t talk. But they need help to finally let go of their lives here, and Odd feels an obligation to help when he can. He is often successful. Except with Elvis, course.
Because the supernatural side of his life tends to complicate his world, Odd keeps the earthly side of his life modest: he works as short-order cook, does not own a car or much of anything else, his wardrobe consists primarily of jeans and tee-shirts. He lives in a one-room apartment over a garage. He occasionally dreams of working in tire sales. He thinks that might be a better way to support the love of his life, Storm Llewellyn, should she ever finally agree to marry him.
Odd is good people. He is wry and self-effacing; he is funny and thoughtful and respectful; he is intelligent and philosophical. He always tries to do the right thing, often to his own disadvantage. He is what your mother would call a good boy.
Early on, when he is visited by the ghost of a young woman, he chases down her murderer. Each morning, he stops by to assure his landlady that she is still visible. Did I mention that he has been trying to help Elvis cross over for years? He is. And, when his gift makes it clear that there is about to be a major disaster in his home town, he risks his life and more to track down cause and stop it before it can happen.
In the end, does his best, but pays a terrible price. I’d tell you more, but the wound is still too fresh.
Don’t read this book because you are a fan of Dean Koontz. Don’t read this book because you like stories of the supernatural. Don’t even read this book because you like me, although I am touched by the thought.
You should read this book because Odd Thomas is someone you will want as a friend. I know I do.