Monday, August 04, 2008

"Odd Hours" by Dean Koontz (pub. 2008)

Here it is the 4th installment in Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series. Odd Thomas, yes that's his name (it seems his parents were cruel in many ways), is in all practicality just your average late teens teenager, except that he can see the dead. Odd sees actual ghosts of the recently departed. Usually they appear to him so he can solve the circumstances of their death or so Odd may help them to "move on" and fully depart the living world. Recently Odd helped the King of Rock-n-Roll Elvis Presley to move on. In past books Odd has stopped terrorist-like activities on his home town of Pico Mundo, been lured to help a voodoo priestess attempt to achieve immortality, and saved some "special" children who were in danger from a dark evil at a monastery.

Odd Thomas' only "powers" are those of seeing the recently departed, premonitions of future events, and psychic magnetism. Let me explain these a little further. Seeing the recently departed is just that, seeing, they cannot talk and cannot affect the living material world, unless they have rare poltergeist abilities. The premonitions are often in Odd's dreams and are never explained and are slowly unfolding enigmas. And finally psychic magnetism is a form of Odd just thinking about who he wants to see and by just wandering he ends up meeting them. The magnetism can backfire and lead to those he doesn't want to see. Other than that he's pretty normal.

In this book Odd's psychic magnetism has led him to the small California coastal town of Magic Beach. Something big is about to happen thanks to a premonition coming to Odd in a dream. Odd has found employment with a retired actor who goes by Hutch, and had his heyday in film back when Hollywood films were filled with silver screen icons like Barbara Stanwick, Humphry Bogart, et. al. Odd takes care of Hutch by cooking for him.

Odd Runs into Annamarie, a pregnant woman in Odd's vision, on a pier and is immediately sucked into the action. Odd and Annamare is threatened by 3 thugs; 2 redhead brothers (one with "meth-teeth") and a large thug with a chin beard. When the large thug touches Odd, Odd's vision is passed on to to him and he asks Odd, "Who are you?" At which point odd realizes these guys are not friendly and escapes by jumping off the pier after Annamarie heads to a crowd. He evades them with the help of his dog, Boo, by the way Boo is a ghost dog who only Odd sees.

After Odd escapes he finds his way to Annamarie's home where she presents a strange proposition to Odd which she asks if Odd would die for her. He answers without hesitating in the affirmative and then he and she both get a "feeling" which they must both leave immediately. The three thugs show up at her door and the chase is on. After sending her to a safehouse Odd proceeds to find out what is going on. Soon he is picked up by the local Sheriff in which all is made clear.

Odd must then stop the importing of Nuclear weapons to Magic Beach. The weapons are part of a plan to create a New United States and Odd must fight terrorists and maybe give up his aversion to guns. With the action of a Bruce Willis action film and the teen angst of a Spider-man Comic book, the unlikely hero of Odd Thomas must take on the worlds woes. Also at the same time he has to help the spirit of "The Chairman of the Board" Frank Sinatra, to move on.

Great book, great read, great characters, Dean Koontz has continued with the winning formula that is Odd Thomas.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:10 PM Comments: 0

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Cold Fire" by Dean Koontz (published 1991)

Jim Ironheart gets mysterious messages, telepathically, to go and save someone from sure death, usually children. Jim doesn't know where this power to know the future comes from and just assumes it is God working through him saving people that could die. Jim just gets the message "lifeline," and is off all he needs to know comes to him as needed and usually at the last minute.

When Jim saves a boy from being run over by a drunk drive outside a school in portland, reporter, Holly Thorn, wonders how Jim knew which kid to save. Holly sees a story in this. She soon discovers that Jim has saved several people all over the nation from impending doom. After approaching Jim on one such mission in which he is to save a mother and her daughter, Holly asks why not save all the passengers. Jim only receives enough information to save these two. Holly presses for Jim to take MORE action and he ends up saving most of the passengers by telling the flight crew what will happen and how to reduce the death toll in the crash. On the ground in the rubble of the plane, Holly then rescues a 5 year old boy and something changes in her. She no longer sees the world in the view of a reporter. She now wants to help Jim to save the world.

In order to join forces with Jim Ironheart there are some issues which need to be addressed. Such as Jim's dark past and the mysterious source of his life-saving messages. Holly and Jim find themselves exploring Jim's past in the town he grew up living with his grandparents. His parents died tragically when Jim was only 9. The source of the power seems to come from the bottom of a pond beside an old windmill on Jims boyhood farm. Or is this really the source.

It what turns out to be a great exploration of the supernatural to discover Jim's powers, Holly may have inadvertently put both their lives in jeopardy. The excitement, chills and thrills are just beginning when the "alien" in the pond begins to reveal itself.

As typical with Koontz' work this book has great characters discovering themselves. At the same time another great Koontz skill is his beautiful use of language. This book is even furthered with several quotes from Edgar Allen Poe and Koontz weaving those into the story.

Yes, this is another classic Dean Koontz novel that deserves to be re-discovered.

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posted by Gil T. @ 9:41 PM Comments: 0

Friday, April 11, 2008

"The Good Guy" by Dean Koontz published 2007

Tim Carrier is in his favorite bar, run by his friend, enjoying the simple bar chat. Known for "nursing" his beers he's there actually just to take up space and relax. he's approached by a man with a manila envelope. The man talks about how Tim is early and that he recently went skydiving with his dog. Tim seeing this as not your normal bar chat fare chats back with the man. The man then slips Tim the envelope and says there's $10,000 in the envelope, half now and half when she's gone. The man then makes a hasty retreat out of the bar.

Tim opens the envelope and finds a photo of a woman who is "easy on the eyes" and an address on back. Also, as stated $10,000 in wrapped hundred dollar bills. Tim realizes he's just been confused in a murder for hire. Another man then walks into the bar and sees the envelope and approaches Tim. The man tells Tim he's early and Tim tells the man he changed his mind. The man doesn't let this happen and Tim says I'll still pay you half and removes the photo from the envelope and passes the money along to the man.

Tim then leaves and gets set to call the police to tell what has happened. At this point he sees the man get into a car and place an emergency police beacon on the top of the unmarked police car and drive away. Realizing the stranger may be a cop, Tim then decides to take matters into his own hands.

Tim goes to the woman's house and explains how she is in danger. Then the action never lets go. Constantly running away from what turns out to be some sort of shadow government murder for hire Tim and the woman, Linda, begin running for their lives just to be a few steps ahead of this assassin. As the story progresses we find that Tim also has a secret and that secret is what helps him stay ahead of this psycho killer. But in something a little different from most of Dean Koontz's books this secret is not a dark secret but one that leads to a very heroic ending for the book.

Great action to be found and mysterious characters throughout the book keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly turning pages. I'm going to venture to say this is one of the best if not THE best Koontz book I've read.

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posted by Gil T. @ 6:45 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Book Review "The Door to December" by Dean Koontz

Every so often you have to go back and revisit an old Dean Koontz novel and get some good old fashioned chills. Even Dean himself has to do so. This book was originally released in 1985 under Dean's psuedonym Richard Paige but has been re-released under the proper artist's name, Dean Koontz.

This book is a classic Koontz novel. It features the hero with a soiled childhood, in this case Dan Haldane the police detective that takes on they mysterious case of Melanie Rafferty. Melanie is a 9 year old girl who was kidnapped by her father, Dylan, 6 years prior after Melanie's mother, Laura, filed for divorce. The story begins with Dylan's house the scene of a brutal crime in which he and several "occupants" have been found bludgeoned to death. Melanie is found wandering the streets of L.A. naked and in a catatonic state.

Lt. Dan Haldane calls Laura to the scene to try to put together what happened. Laura hasn't seen or heard from her husband and daughter for 6 years. What happened in that 6 years immediately sends a chill up the reader's spine. In this house which was the base of research for Dylan Rafferty, who was a psychologist performed a series of bizarre psychological experiments. To make matters worse it becomes clear that Dylan had been using his daughter as the main subject of his experiments, strapping her to a shock therapy chair and isolating her for hours in a sensory deprivation tank encouraging her to discover the full potential of her psyche.

As the police continue to investigate the murder other bodies start to appear. In each case the victim seems to have been killed in a very extreme way far beyond the abilities of any normal person. At first the victims don't seem to have anything in common but as the investigation continues they start to discover that all of the dead were somehow linked and this link is that something (not someone) is killing those involved in Melanie's experiments. The link also leads to find what was actually being studied and who was funding the experiments.

This is Dean Koontz's classic thrill package wrapped within the covers in this book. A little paranormal activity and great characters to follow to the ultimate battle of the psyche.

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posted by Gil T. @ 7:34 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book Review - "The Husband" by Dean Koontz

All married couples recite the words "til death do us part." (Okay except for those few that have "alternative" weddings) Those five words are pretty much taken for granted, especially when you look at Hollywood and today's divorce rate. But there are a few of us out there that not only take that seriously but feel that sentiment with our heart. But digging down deep how far will you go to prevent that parting?

In this novel, "The Husband" by Dean Koontz, we find out just how far Mitch Rafferty will go, including killing someone and finding out the dark side of his family. The cover of the book reads "We have your wife. You can have her back for 2 Million- cash." This sounds like a typical kidnapping crime book, but as any Koontz fan knows nothing is ever typical.

Mitch Rafferty is simple Landscaper/Gardner who has his own small business in California. His wife, Holly, is a secretary that wants to become a real estate agent. Living their own lives simply and normally. That is until when one day at work, Mitch receives the call from Holly and then the kidnappers telling him they want $2 million. Mitch says, "I'm just a gardener, I don't have that kind of money." To which the kidnappers simply reply, "We know." Then to prove they are serious they kill a man walking his dog across the street as Mitch watches in horror.

So what would a man do to get back his wife? Well without giving away too much, Mitch will do anything. But an insistent Detective Taggart seems to think Mitch is hiding something. Mitch was told not to involve the cops but was forced to call 911 after he sees the man shot.

It is soon revealed that (as with most of Koontz's "heroes") Mitch had a very troubling childhood. Mitch's parents were tenured Professors of Psychology at UCI and had their own way of raising children. This bizarre upbringing for Mitch and his 4 siblings included such abuses as "the learning room," a sensory deprivation room where the children could spend up to 2 weeks in said room to "think about" what they did wrong.

While Mitch may have turned out pretty normal, his brother Anson, the family Jewel, turned out to be very successful. Mitch soon learns that Anson is also hiding a secret.

With more action and thrills than any movie ever produced this book will keep you riveted and not wanting to put it down even after the extremely exciting conclusion.

"The Husband" proves when it comes to thrills/chills and plot twists, Dean Koontz delivers.

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:51 PM Comments: 0

Friday, February 09, 2007

Brother Odd (Book 3 of the Odd Thomas Novels) by Dean Koontz

Book three of the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz has lived up to the greatness created in the first of the series. In the first book, "Odd Thomas," we are introduced to the dynamic character of Odd, the young fry-cook that can see dead people. Odd uses his gift/curse to help the lingering dead move on by usually solving the puzzles of their deaths. He also has the gift of what he calls "psychic magnetism," which is a form of intuition which will always lead him where he needs to be, so he’s never lost.

Assisted by the ghost of Elvis (yep, Presley, the king of rock) Odd Thomas has some interesting adventures. In this adventure/episode Odd has taken up residency in a monastery. No he hasn’t become a monk, he’s just a guest. At this monastery only the Mother Superior and a few Brothers and the Abbot know of his special talents. He has also been given a master key which will allow him into any area of the monastery. This was given to him because the monastery has a poltergeist. A Brother who was believed to have committed suicide in the bell tower, and takes to ringing the bells at various times of the day.

This monastery is also home to a large number of children that have been "forgotten" by society. These are orphaned children that are "damaged." Most are what are called "crack-babies" others are just orphans from very bad home lives. Another resident-become-monk is a brilliant physicist that has endowed the monastery with over 400 billion dollars to take care of these children. Brother John has taken all his vows to become a full fledged monk, but has a dark secret. This secret could lead to the death of the children, the monks and the sisters of the monastery, unless Odd Thomas can do something to help.

Odd is aware of the impending doom by the sudden arrival of bodachs, a dark paranormal creature that is another thing that Odd sees which no one else can. When bodachs arrive there is always trouble, which in all cases means large disaster, looming. Odd follows the bodachs to try and find what may be the disaster. In following, he comes across an entity of which the likes he’s never seen. This new entity is as dangerous as it is mysterious. It is constructed of what appear to be a cacaphony of bones but with multiple types of joints that allow flexibility unlike anything seen in this reality.

Once again Dean Koontz weaves a tale of horror, mystery and even fun that is just a great read. Oh yeah and the moments of poignancy are back in this book so be prepared, just a few tissues are needed, but in various parts of the book, not just the end as in book one.

I’m moving to a sci-fi mode for my next few books if you want to know what’s next click here:

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posted by Gil T. @ 8:01 PM Comments: 0