Written by: Wayne C. Rogers
Each book that Dean Koontz has written since the publication of From the Corner of His Eye in 2000 has had a rather unique message within it that deals with the powers of love and compassion that human beings are capable of showing to each other. I should also add that dogs are included in this equation, too. A dog will offer everything it has to its human master just for a pat on the head and a belly rub. So, yeah, dogs have to be included, too. What all of this means is that Mr. Koontz not only wants to give his readers a well-written novel filled with strong, believable characters and spine-tingling suspense, but also a sense that there’s hope for humanity and that we have it within ourselves to persevere against evil and to bring justice and love into our world.
None of Mr. Koontz’s fictional characters have represented this more clearly than Odd Thomas, a young fry cook from a small California desert town who has the ability to see the dead and to know when disaster is going to strike. When I think of Odd Thomas, the image of Elijah Wood comes to mind with his sad eyes and hopeful smile. You see, having the gift of second “sight” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s no fame and fortune for Odd Thomas. He’s a young man who’s lost the only woman he ever loved, and he has only a handful of close friends who know of his power and who try to protect him within their own ability. But, as Odd knows, there’s no hiding from Death and the evil that often lurks beside it. Though he’s only one person, he does the best he can at trying to help others and to bring a sense of goodness into our world, especially with his fluffy pancakes.
In the third book of the series, Brother Odd, the journey continues for our haunted soul as he seeks refuge within a monastery located in the High Sierra Mountains of California. All he wants to do is find a little piece in his life after all he’s had to endure during the past eighteen months (read Odd Thomas and Forever Odd). Life, however, has the knack of throwing you a curve ball when you least expect it. This is what happens to Odd when he unexpectedly sees the dark, sinister entities that he calls bodachs, hovering around the special children who live at the monastery.
From previous experience, Odd knows that the bodachs represent both coming death and disaster. The only questions for him are when and from what direction the disaster will approach. Odd doesn’t know how long he has to prepare an adequate defense, but it’s his intention to do everything within his power to save the children and the other people who live in the monastery.
This time, however, he’s going to need more than strength and intuition to fight the evil incarnate that’s hidden outside of the monastery in the blinding snowstorm. He’s going to need help, but who to turn to and how much to tell them will create almost as many problems as the frightening monsters that are eagerly awaiting.
Like the first two novels in the series, Brother Odd was a sheer pleasure to read. It was not only filled with suspense and horror, but also with humor and insight into the nature of reality. Can science ever truly know God, or is this something that has to be taken on faith alone? Such are the questions that arise within this brilliantly written novel.
Mr. Koontz certainly has an acute interest in quantum mechanics and the duality of order and chaos in our Universe, and he touches on this within the scope of the story. What really triggered my own curiosity was when he hit upon the theory that below all the layers of chaos and order, going deeper than the realm of subatomic particles, is a form of energy that scientists think is actually thought. I don’t know if this has to do with the “super string” theory, but what it implies is that since all matter is made up of energy and all thought is energy, that a person should be able to create matter with just his own thoughts.
This idea goes back to the teachings of Jesus when he created fish and bread from nothing in order to feed the masses. In fact, all the great teachers and mystics having been telling us this important fact for thousands of years. Scientists are just now catching up with them. Anyway, this idea plays an important part in the story, and Odd Thomas has to wrap his mind around the implications of just such a possibility and what it means to the monastery.
I don’t want you to think that this novel is a science treatise on molecular structure. It isn’t. It’s a fast-paced thrill ride that has you laughing out loud at times and shuttering in fear at others. This is perhaps one of Dean Koontz’s finest novels to date, which is saying a lot, considering how many great novels he’s written over the last thirty-five years.
If there’s one gripe, it’s the ending. I hate being left out in the air to dry, not knowing what’s in the future for Odd. You’ll understand what I mean if you get the book and read the last two pages. I don’t care how many times the author sings, “I Did It My Way,” it still irks me. Fortunately, more Odd Thomas novels have come out since this one was published. More are still to come as the author carefully wraps up this wonderful series about hope and compassion. I’m still hoping Odd and Stormy will be reunited and NOT in death. That would be such a downer for this fantastic character.