Odd Thomas Summary

Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas

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Odd Thomas Summary

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Odd Thomas sees dead people. However, that is not the strangest or most interesting thing about him. Dead people seek Thomas out. They do not speak, but they communicate with Odd telepathically, frequently leading Odd to their killers. A thriller written by Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas is the first in a series of novels with Odd as the protagonist—a reluctant hero born to set wrongs in the world right. Age 20, Odd works as a short-order cook in a Southern Californian desert town, called Pico Mundo, and he is deeply in love with his soul-mate and current girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn.

The main theme of the story uplifts the reader: we must persevere against evil, with love and a strong heart, no matter the odds against us. Stormy imbues Odd’s life with the belief that this life is a boot camp, full of trials, followed by a second life, of great adventure and service to others. Only in our third life, according to Stormy, do we find peace in paradise. Odd absorbs Stormy’s belief system, finding it more cheerful and preferable to his own, which is much more troubled. Odd’s life has taught him that the darkest, most evil entity on earth can be the human heart. The happenings of this novel reinforce Odd’s beliefs but also strengthen his resolve to keep on fighting.

The novel, told in first person from Odd’s perspective, begins as Odd wakes to begin another day. While walking to work at the Pico Mundo Grille, a 12-year-old girl, Penny Kallisto approaches him. Penny is one of Odd’s spirits in need of help, and she leads Odd to identify her killer: a high school classmate of Odd’s named Harlo Landerson. After apprehending Landerson, Odd and the chief of police, Wyatt Porter, discuss how to handle Odd’s discovery of Landerson’s guilt. The chief clearly knows all about Odd’s “gift.” The two of them share a warm relationship, with the chief acting as a surrogate father figure to Odd. Terri Stambaugh, his boss at the grille, loves and supports Odd as a mother figure; she also knows about Odd’s gift.

Odd handles his abilities with humor and grace, and the life experience his gift brings him lend him a maturity far beyond his years. As Odd works at his grill, he sees a stranger—who Odd names Fungus Man due to his oddly waxy, pale skin and fuzzy blonde hair—in the restaurant, surrounded by large contingent of gray, shadowy, unearthly figures he names bodachs. Wherever these bodachs gather, human pain, misery, violence, and disaster surely follow. Odd is careful not to let these strange, malevolent entities know that he can see them.

Alerted by the man’s strange appearance, the bodachs, and his intuition, Odd uses what Stormy calls his “psychic magnetism” to track the Fungus Man down. It brings Odd to the local mall—the Green Moon Mall, where Stormy works in an ice cream shop. The Fungus Man shows up to buy some ice cream, allowing Odd to follow him home. When Fungus Man leaves, Odd breaks into his house.

The house is disturbingly icy cold, in the middle of an August Mohave heat wave, and silent; even Odd’s footsteps are muffled. He discovers a dark bedroom transformed into a black portal that seems to be an entrance to another world: Odd enters the room several times, each time ending up in different places either in or near the house, either forward or backward in time. He watches hundreds of bodachs enter Pico Mundo from the dark portal. When he returns to the black room; it is gone, replaced by an ordinary office. Posters of famous mass killers adorn the walls, including Charles Manson, and a filing cabinet contains information on the world’s worst mass killers and serial killers, along with evidence that Fungus Man desires to become an infamous mass killer himself. Most ominously, Odd finds clues that the date Fungus Man has chosen for his heinous crime is the next day. Now absolutely convinced that something terrible is about to happen, Odd vows to protect the people of his town.

Accompanied by Stormy and occasionally the spirit of Elvis Presley, Odd struggles to avert the disastrous, violent acts that he believes will happen the next day. Warning Chief Porter, who sends out an alert for his officers to keep an eye out for Fungus Man, Odd sees that the Fungus Man now seems to be following him. Fungus Man shows up at Odd’s friend Ozzie’s house and then shows up where Odd and Stormy are having dinner. They run from Fungus Man to St. Bart’s, and he destroys part of the church, acting out his frustration and fury as they run away.

Next, Odd calls Porter to warn him about Fungus Man’s rampage, and Odd is drawn to the bowling alley, believing that the Fungus Man might be planning a mass killing there. He cannot figure out a way to warn people without causing a panic. He takes Stormy home and returns home himself, only to find the dead body of Fungus Man—whose real name is Bob Robertson—apparently planted in his bathtub to frame him for murder. Now realizing, with bodachs still swarming the town and Robertson killed by another of his accomplices, that the plan now unfolding involves more people than the Fungus Man, Odd races against time, using his gifts to try to stop the carnage.

Odd realizes that one of Porter’s officers has a Satanic tattoo similar one the Fungus Man wore. When he ransacks Robertson’s house, Odd uncovers more evidence of Robertson’s fascination with Satan, finding human teeth, black candles, and grisly souvenirs of multiple murders in Robertson’s freezer.

Using his intuitive gift, Odd tracks down this policeman at the local mall. However, Odd arrives too late, watching the horror unfold as masked gunmen randomly mow down shoppers and workers inside the mall. Odd manages to stop two of the gunmen, ending the shooting spree, despite his hatred of guns and violence. However, he feels that the massacre is not yet over and races to the loading dock where he locates a truck full of explosives. He disarms the bomb, but in the process a third gunman shoots him three times in the back.

Stormy stays by Odd’s beside while he is in the hospital, as the reality of the mass killing at the local mall hits home. When he is released, he goes to stay with Stormy so that he can avoid all of the reporters clamoring for an interview with the hero of the hour. After several more days pass, Odd’s friends arrive and force Odd to accept reality. Stormy died in the mall shooting. Odd acknowledges that he has known this truth all along, having gone quietly mad in his grief. He says goodbye and watches her cross to the other side. Her final words to Odd echo the theme of the novel: “be happy,” and “persevere.”

Though Odd has been robbed of his love, he is filled with empowering knowledge from Stormy’s strength and life lessons: that this life is full of difficulty, particularly human cruelty, which we must struggle against with a cheerful heart, because the alternative is to give in to despair and let the dark forces win the day. Evil will never triumph on Odd Thomas’ watch; he perseveres to earn the right to see Stormy again in his next life.

All quotations taken from Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz available at: http://www.ipadebooks1.com/477/OEBPS/part40.html.