Tag Archives: Dean Koontz

Baker on Odd

Our friend Hunter Baker praises Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas books over at Touchstone Magazine:

Years of major market success gain an author freedom to do what he wants. In the last decade, Koontz has invested his considerable artistic capital in becoming a more intentional instructor of the soul. His device for moral and spiritual teaching is a young man named Odd. Odd, like Koontz, is a Catholic. He is bright, handsome, and athletic. His parents are divorced and both highly dysfunctional. Odd’s inattentive, playboy father comes from a family with a lot of money. His mother doesn’t deserve the name. Given his upbringing, Odd is a miracle. He is God’s child more than he is the child of two people who refuse to grow up.

77 Shadow Street, by Dean Koontz

One thing that can be said for Dean Koontz is that he likes to mix it up. His characters may tend to look similar (as what author’s don’t?), but he likes to experiment with his stories. 77 Shadow Street, I think, is unusual among his books in featuring quite a large cast of characters and constantly jumping the point of view from one to another. I wish I could say I thought the experiment was a great success, but I wouldn’t call it a total failure either.

77 Shadow Street is the address of an exclusive residential apartment building, something like the Dakota in Manhattan, home to a number of wealthy and/or famous people. They include a drunken ex-senator, a stock broker with military experience, a single mother who writes hit country songs, a female novelist raising an autistic daughter, a retired lawyer, a working hit man, a famous geneticist, and others. When they first begin to notice strange phenomena in their building—lights, vibrations, and strangers appearing and disappearing in antique clothing—they aren’t alarmed at first. Until the whole building is transported into a future time where the world is depopulated and strange life forms stalk the hallways, intent on turning them all into something other than human. Continue reading 77 Shadow Street, by Dean Koontz

Odd Apocalypse, by Dean Koontz


Guys who wear porkpie hats are always, in my experience, up to no good—and pleased about it. Whether that style of headwear turns previously benign men into sociopaths or whether men who are already sociopaths are drawn to that style is one of those mysteries that will never be solved, though the Department of Justice has probably funded a score of scientific studies of the issue.

Another Odd Thomas novel from Dean Koontz, another home run. I won’t say Odd Apocalypse is my favorite in the series—I won’t even say I’m sure I liked it better than the previous novella, Odd Interlude, which I reviewed recently. But all these books are so far superior to anything else being done in the genre (assuming I know what the genre is) that you know going in that you’re in for a delight. And you are not disappointed.

Odd Thomas is the simplest of men, with the simplest of desires. All he wants is a quiet life, and to love a girl who is gone. But he’s been entrusted with gifts—the ability to see the “undeparted dead,” and a sort of psychic GPS that helps him find people he’s looking for. Because he’s faithful to God, he employs these gifts for the good of others, which leads him into great danger time and time again. Continue reading Odd Apocalypse, by Dean Koontz

More Odd, Less Gore

Last night as I was getting ready to turn in, I turned on Dennis Miller’s talk show, which is delay-broadcast here. A married couple was sitting in for him (I forget their names), and they announced that their next guest would be their friend Dean Koontz, to talk about his new novel, Odd Apocalypse.

I listened to the interview and took the book’s release date, my birthday, as a sign from heaven that I was meant to buy it now, and not wait for a lower price when the paperback comes out.

I’ll review it soon.

In other literary news, Gore Vidal has died.

They say you should speak no ill of the dead.

I have nothing more to say.

Odd Interlude, 1, 2, and 3, by Dean Koontz


Such genuine trust, so sweetly expressed, bears witness to an innocence in the human heart that endures even in this broken world and that longs to ring the bell backward and undo the days of history until all such trust would be justified in a world started anew and as it always should have been.

There’s a large company of readers for whom a new Dean Koontz book is always cause for rejoicing. But more than that, a new Odd Thomas book is cause for double rejoicing. The wandering fry cook from Pico Mundo, California is Koontz’s greatest creation, one of the most perfect depictions of actual saintliness ever conceived by an author. Not the common conception of saintliness—stuffy and judgmental—but the actual, biblical kind—humble, gentle, and quietly courageous.

Odd Interlude is an “odd” entry in the series. It’s a novella, offered in three installments, One, Two, and Three, sold for Kindle at $1.99 each, partly to raise interest in Odd Apocalypse, a new novel coming later this year. As if we needed motivation. Continue reading Odd Interlude, 1, 2, and 3, by Dean Koontz

The Moonlit Mind, by Dean Koontz


Sanctuary can be found in that kind of church—whether Baptist or otherwise—in which, on Sundays, rollicking gospel songs are sung with gusto and booming piano. Churches in which Latin is sometimes spoken, candles are lit for the intention of the dead, incense is sometimes burned, and fonts of holy water stand at the entrances—those are also secure. Synagogues are good refuges too.

Here’s a nice little slice of pure Dean Koontz. The Moonlit Mind, a novella available cheap for your Kindle, has many elements that will be no surprise coming from Koontz—a precocious child on the run from an abusive situation (here occult ritual abuse), a dog possessing preternatural wisdom, and helpless innocence pitted against powerful evil.

The story is told in two narrative threads—the present, in which twelve-year-old Crispin lives in hiding in an unnamed city, his only friends his dog Harley (who finds him money to live on), and Amity, another person in hiding, a girl who lives inside a local department store.

The second thread is the back story, in which we slowly learn how Crispin, along with his younger brother and sister, was raised in great luxury in a mysterious mansion, and how his siblings disappeared one after the other, as Crispin gradually came to realize a horrible truth…

Good story. Excellent writing. Endearing (and horrifying) characters. Apparently The Moonlit Mind is a teaser for a longer book coming up, 77 Shadow Street, which will involve the same city.

Recommended for teens and older.

What the Night Knows, by Dean Koontz

I’m a fan of Dean Koontz, so when I say that I wasn’t entirely pleased with What the Night Knows, you must understand that I’m not saying it was a bad read, or that it bored me. It’s a professionally constructed story, with appealing characters and gripping terror. But there were things that disappointed me about it.

As in so many Koontz stories, the action is sparked by a bigger-than-life villain. This one is Alton Turner Blackwood, a gigantic, deformed sexual sadist who has an extra advantage—he’s dead. He can possess inanimate objects or people, and he uses them to commit horrific sex murders against entire families. He especially craves young, innocent females.

Years ago police detective John Calvino, then a teenaged boy, walked in on Blackwood just after he had murdered Calvino’s family. Calvino shot him to death. But somehow Blackwood’s evil spirit endures, and he is determined to recreate his last string of murders, on precisely the same timetable, finishing up with Calvino and his wife and three children. Continue reading What the Night Knows, by Dean Koontz

Frankenstein: The Dead Town, by Dean Koontz


“The pages [of the original Frankenstein] reek with your bottomless self-pity so poorly disguised as regret, with the phoniness of your verbose self-condemnation, with the insidious quality of your contrition, which is that of a materialist who cares not for God and is therefore not true contrition at all, but only despair at the consequences of your actions. For centuries, I have been the monster, and you the well-meaning idealist who claims he would have undone what he did if only given the chance. But your kind never undoes. You do the same wrong over and over, with ever greater fervency, causing ever more misery, because you are incapable of admitting error.”

“I’ve made no error,” Victor Immaculate confidently assures him, “and neither did your maker.”

Looming, the giant says, “You are my maker.”

Thus Frankenstein’s monster, now known as Deucalion, purified by suffering and made truly human, addresses Dr. Frankenstein, so corrupted by power and pride that he has ceased to be human at all, in Frankenstein: The Dead Town, the dramatic climax to Dean Koontz’ five-book deconstruction of Mary Shelley’s original narrative.

It should be clear to all regular readers that I’m pretty much in the bag for Dean Koontz. Not the greatest prose stylist around, he is nevertheless one of the few authors whose writing has gotten constantly better since he became a publishing superstar. He creates amusing and engaging characters who know how to talk to each other, and keeps them in escalating peril, mesmerizing the reader. He’s optimistic without being sappy, and can deal with tragedy without inducing despair.

In this book, all the main characters who first met in New Orleans, the detective couple Carson and Michael, the genetically-engineered Bride of Frankenstein, Erika, along with her adopted child, the troll-like Jocko, Deucalion the monster, and Victor Frankenstein (or rather his clone) all come to a final showdown in the town of Rainbow Falls, Montana. At the end of the previous installment, an army of Victor’s genetically engineered killers had cut the town off and begun murdering and “reprocessing” the inhabitants, as the start to a program to destroy all life on earth (Victor judges it messy and inefficient). Humanity’s only hope is Deucalion, who was endowed at his creation with powers over physical space. But he needs his human (and somewhat human) friends to help him. Victor Frankenstein has also failed to anticipate the difficulties involved in overcoming a population of God-fearing, gun-owning American westerners. Continue reading Frankenstein: The Dead Town, by Dean Koontz

Frankenstein: Lost Souls, by Dean Koontz

Frankenstein: Lost Souls

I was surprised at first to see Dean Koontz’ Frankenstein series continuing beyond the original trilogy. I’d come away from that series thinking the story was pretty well wrapped up, and wrapped up pretty well. Also, Koontz has generally resisted writing series in the past, though he’s made exceptions here and in the Odd Thomas books.

However, on reading Frankenstein: Lost Souls, I was reminded of loose threads from the previous books which had indeed set us up for a continuation. So it’s all fair and aboveboard.

The main characters are back, but the locations have changed. New Orleans detectives Carson O’Conner and Michael Maddison, now married, have moved to San Francisco, where they work as private investigators and dote on their new baby. “Deucalion,” the reformed Frankenstein monster, has retired to a monastery (the same one, as it happens, that Odd Thomas lived in for a while, in Brother Odd). And Erica Five, Dr. Frankenstein’s android bride, is living near Rainbow Falls, Montana, along with Jocko, the android gnome, who serves as an object for her maternal instincts.

Then Deucalion has an intuition—a sure conviction in his psychic sense, telling him that somehow Dr. Frankenstein, who was horribly killed at the end of the previous book, is nevertheless alive. Continue reading Frankenstein: Lost Souls, by Dean Koontz

Breathless, by Dean Koontz

Breathless

Say what you like about Dean Koontz; he isn’t afraid to experiment and mix it up. Breathless is part spiritual thriller, part science fiction. It’s a book with a clear message, one many readers won’t like. It’s also a very sweet story, and I enjoyed it and was moved by it. For reference, the same spirit that animates the Odd Thomas books is at work here.

Koontz jumps between several characters and story lines, before bringing them together, if not in one place, at least around one theme. A wonderful thing has happened in our world. Each witness to that event responds for the good or the evil, depending on the capacities of their souls.

Because of the multiplicity of story lines, it’s hard to give a synopsis, but the central story involves a man named Grady Adams, who along with his dog Merlin (gratefully, the dog is not a supernatural being this time out) observes the Event while on an evening walk in the woods. Soon he notices strange creatures watching his house. Meanwhile, his friend Camillia Rivers, a veterinarian, is trying to find an explanation for a strange “seizure” experienced by a number of domestic animals, which not only doesn’t seem to have done them any harm, but has done them good.

And nearby a sociopathic murderer is preparing for the collapse of society by building himself a secure compound on a mountain farm.

It all comes together in the end.

If you’re a Koontz fan and a religious believer, you’ll probably enjoy Breathless. If you don’t get the whole religion thing, you may find it offputting.

I don’t recall any very rough language. No sex, and the violence happens early on and is not explicit.

Not Koontz’ best, but recommended, for those with eyes to see.

Relentless, by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz is a bold writer when it comes to experimenting with genres. In Relentless he gives us a comic horror science fiction thriller. It’s a very enjoyable and compelling book, but I’m not entirely sure all its parts work together.

I’ve said in other reviews that I admire Koontz’s general avoidance of the common (lazy) writer’s trick of telling stories about writers. But Relentless is about a writer (and his family). It could hardly have been otherwise, given the premise.

If horror means basing plots on our greatest fears, there can be no greater horror premise for a writer than a sociopathic critic. Negative critics are the enemies against whom there is no defense. Fighting a critic is a loser’s game. But how much worse if that critic wants you (and your family) dead? Continue reading Relentless, by Dean Koontz

Your Heart Belongs to Me, by Dean Koontz

Some people might not care for this book (the Amazon reviews support that contention), because it’s different from Dean Koontz’ other work. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that Koontz frequently changes genres, and mixes and matches genres within a story. He doesn’t like to do the same thing twice (with the exception of the Odd Thomas and Frankenstein books, which just prove that he refuses to be predictable even in his unpredictability). With Your Heart Belongs to Me he has (in my opinion), not only broken new genre ground, but produced his best writing to date.

This book sings. Again and again, I paused in my reading just to savor how beautifully the author had expressed himself. The usual pattern for a popular writer, as far as I’ve observed, is to start out really good, with a book he’s probably labored over for years, and then to become increasingly sloppy, as his publisher’s demands for several books a year force him to churn stuff out and send it away in the rough. But Koontz is an infinitely better writer today than he was when he started, and the best of his recent work reaches (I think) the level of literary fiction. That’s certainly true of Your Heart Belongs to Me.

The blurb on the back told me that this was the story of Ryan Perry, an internet social networking billionaire who’s had a heart transplant and starts getting threatening messages from someone telling him, “You’re heart belongs to me.”

But in fact, Koontz takes more than half of the book to set that situation up. We see Ryan as a rich, healthy, happy young man who lives the American dream. He has an enormous house, surfs whenever he wants to, and is dating a gorgeous young woman. Then he starts experiencing physical symptoms which turn out to indicate, not a heart attack, but a congenital cardiac enlargement condition. He begins to be suspicious (the condition might have been caused by poisoning). He employs a security company to investigate various people who might want him dead. On a whim, he takes his business from the cardiologist he’s been seeing, and switches to a more famous, more expensive specialist. And along the way he has occasional visions—or hallucinations—that seem to be communicating a message. But it’s a message he can’t understand.

Finally his name comes up on the international transplant waiting list he’s on, and he gets his surgery. His recovery is good. But his girlfriend breaks up with him. (She says he knows why, but he can’t figure it out.) Then the messages start appearing—a bag of candy hearts, all with the same message, left on his pillow in a room that ought to be locked and secure. A heart-shaped pendant left on his pillow. A sudden knife attack, accompanied by a whispered threat.

It isn’t until he’s kidnapped and threatened with death that Ryan begins to acknowledge the things he’s been purposely overlooking, and to understand the meaning of the warnings he’s had. “It’s all about the subtext,” his girlfriend, a writer, once told him.

The ending is different from that of any Koontz novel I recall. But it was a good ending, entirely satisfying in its way.

I recommend Your Heart Belongs to Me highly. You’ll find yourself searching your own heart.

Frankenstein: Dead and Alive, by Dean Koontz

If I were actually the kind of industry insider I pretend to be as an author/blogger, I would have been aware that Dean Koontz’ long-awaited final volume in his Frankenstein trilogy was coming out at last. (He delayed it, he has reported, because New Orleans, the setting of the books, had suffered enough after Hurricane Katrina, and deserved a break. I’d been very worried the story would go forever unfinished.)

Koontz dedicates Frankenstein: Dead and Alive to “the late Mr. Lewis, who long ago realized that science was being politicized….” It would appear that C. S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength was an inspiration for this book and for the whole trilogy. That gives me particular satisfaction, as I did an homage of my own in Wolf Time.

Although it’s not necessary to read the first two books before reading Dead and Alive, I would recommend it. It’s a pity there was such a long lag between books, because, in my opinion, this book works best as the capstone to the trilogy experience. Continue reading Frankenstein: Dead and Alive, by Dean Koontz

Odd Hours, by Dean Koontz

What could be better than a new Odd Thomas book in paperback?

I’ve said before that I consider Dean Koontz less than an ideal author in the technical sense. His word choices are sometimes poor, and he’s not always as funny as he thinks he is.

On the other hand, he continues to improve as he works. And as he’s found his voice and theme as an author, his books have become—taken as a whole—sources of joy; almost means of grace.

Technically, Koontz is a horror writer. But the average horror writer explores the mystery of evil. Koontz has taken on a much more difficult task, exploring the mystery of goodness. Anyone who’s ever tried to create a good character that is neither a prig nor a wuss understands how brilliant Koontz’s achievement has been, the creation of innumerable characters who are good without being insufferable.

Chief among these is Odd Thomas, almost his only continuing character.

Odd Hours is the fourth Odd Thomas novel, and is just as good as the others. Continue reading Odd Hours, by Dean Koontz

Frankenstein: Prodigal Son and City of Night, by Dean Koontz, Kevin J. Anderson and Ed Gorman

A few years back, as Dean Koontz explains in an introduction to the first book of this series, Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, he made a deal with the USA Network to write a contemporary television series based on the characters of the old Frankenstein book. One assumes that the network execs either misunderstood his script, or understood it all too well, since both parties agreed to go their own ways in the end, each party producing a Frankenstein after their own heart.

The conceit in this series of books is that, although Mary Shelley’s famous novel is based on fact, she got the ending wrong. The monster did not kill Dr. Frankenstein, nor did he die himself. Instead, endowed with extremely long life through being struck by lightning during his creation, he has lived on, mostly in hiding because of a facial injury, gradually learning to control his rage. At the start of Prodigal Son he is residing in a Tibetan monastery. He does not yet know that Dr. Frankenstein has survived the last two centuries as well, his life extended through a series of self-designed surgeries. When he does learn this, the monster leaves the monastery and travels to New Orleans, where Dr. Frankenstein now lives the life of a biotech millionaire and VIP, under a new name. Continue reading Frankenstein: Prodigal Son and City of Night, by Dean Koontz, Kevin J. Anderson and Ed Gorman