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Forever Odd    by Dean Koontz order for
Forever Odd
by Dean Koontz
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

In 2003, Dean Koontz introduced readers to Odd Thomas, a nice guy with big problems and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Now, almost two and a half years after Odd's debut, Koontz gives us the follow-up to this unique character's story. Although deeply affected by the events in the first book, Odd still sees ghosts, he still takes more responsibility for bringing killers to justice than he has to, and he'd still rather be flipping pancakes than chasing murderers.

When Dr. Wilbur Jessup's ghost floats into Odd's bedroom in the middle of the night, Odd knows the doctor's murder isn't the only crime that's been committed in the quiet town of Pico Mundo. Not knowing what he might find, Odd runs to the Jessup house in search of Dr. Jessup's adopted son Danny, a quiet young man who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bones. Danny's illness has left him with physical deformities as well as social awkwardness. When it becomes apparent that Danny has been kidnapped, the authorities fear the worst. Still, Odd holds out hope; and he knows he's the only one who can help his friend.

What follows is a mad dash to rescue Danny. Events take place within the course of one day, giving the book a breathtaking, almost frantic pace. Odd races against time to find his friend, but he soon realizes the motives of a demented killer named Datura involve Odd just as much, if not more, than they involve Danny.

Koontz has the uncanny ability of pulling me into the story from the first few lines of any novel, and Forever Odd is no exception. With a wonderful blend of humor, emotional poignancy and witty dialogue, Koontz quickly sets the scene for an exciting thriller. The initial chapters catch us up with what's been happening in Pico Mundo since the end of the previous book, and some familiar characters make a brief appearance. Unfortunately, that's where the similarities to the first installment end. As Odd sets out in search of Danny, we leave the quaint town of Pico Mundo behind. As a result, the chase and ensuing confrontation in an abandoned casino feels hollow, as though not quite grounded in the enchanting reality we've come to expect from Odd and his friends. In addition, the appearances of deus ex machina resolutions not once, but twice within the course of the story also disappoint.

As a stand-alone book, this works quite well, though I would still recommend reading Odd Thomas first. If you haven't read the first installment, be prepared for some inevitable spoilers. Although Forever Odd isn't quite up to the standard Koontz has set for Odd, I hope the author revisits this charming protagonist again in the future.

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