"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

I had never read a Dean Koontz novel but the attractive cover of this one got a hold of me and I checked it out. Yes, the monk in the brown robe proved to be irresistible to me. The contents didn't disappoint me.

Brother Odd is one in the "Odd Thomas" novel series, featuring a young man who has suffered untold loss and who is a sage at the tender age of 21, Odd Thomas. In this installment of the series, Thomas' paranormal abilities - he can see dead people as well as a kind of "demon" that congregates in places that are about to witness death in a massive scale, not exactly a happy ability - take him to a Catholic monastery that is also home to an eccentric, world-famous physicist. This physicist, also a monk, has discovered a way to create things and even living beings out of nothing, utilizing a machine that amplifies his thoughts. But, in a plot element reminiscent of the 50's cult-classic SciFi movie, Forbidden Planet, the scientist wasn't counting on "the monsters of the id". Havoc ensues.

This is a breezy, easy read. The characters are simple and uncomplicated, but not shallow. You can read this in a rainy weekend. I do find Odd Thomas, however, a little "odd" in terms of his character and maturity, but maybe that's why he's named "Odd". The monastic life is presented in very general terms as a background for Odd's sleuthing and the scientist's deconstruction. The setup for the monastic characters is positive and respectful, but mostly impressionistic.

Oh, and there's also a "holy dog". I truly like how he paints dogs and captures their different moods and reactions.

Elvis and Frank Sinatra also appear - literally. The paranormal appears in right quantities without becoming occultic, or just for effect. In fact, I wonder if this kind of perceptions really exist and if actual people are endowed with them.

Odd Thomas is not religious, but he's somehow "spiritual". Catholicism is in the background but you don't get a real sense that Odd Thomas is Catholic.

I recommend the book. Great read, instructive, exciting, and peaceful.

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