Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/
The strangely-named Odd Thomas has the unique ability to see the dead. And so the dead come to him, to ask for help where no one else can. This fifth book in the chronicles of Odd’s adventures sees him taking refuge – this book apparently begins hours after the end of the fourth book – at the crumbling manor house known as the Roseland Estate. The ghost of a blonde woman on horseback appears to him and asks him to help her child.
Odd is accompanied by a young woman, Annamaria – apparently seventeen and apparently pregnant, but she speaks in riddles and Odd has no idea who she really is or where she comes from – and two dogs. One of the dogs is a ghost. As well as other mysterious characteristics, such as referring to Odd as “young man” even though at 22 he is older than she is, Annamaria possesses a great deal of charisma and is able to bend people to her will. It’s clear she has used this persuasive power on the owner of Roseland, Noah Wolflaw, because as Odd explores the house and grounds it becomes clear that he and his friends are not exactly welcome there.
He finds the child he is to save, a nine-year-old boy who says he is unable to leave. The child’s mother has evidently been dead for decades, though, so how can her son be only nine? Why is everyone so nervous about Odd walking about the grounds? Why does the ghost woman have a horse, when the stables at Roseland Estate are pristine and sparkling clean and have clearly never been used to stable a horse? Odd decides to get some answers.
I am more familiar with Dean Koontz’s work from the days he dominated the horror shelves alongside Stephen King and James Herbert. The Odd Thomas series has a definite horror leaning, but I would define it more as supernatural crime – amongst the ghosts and spooky goings on, there is a mystery to solve, too. And solve the mystery Odd does, in the course of an action-packed 24 hours that had me turning the pages at breakneck speed. This book has a bit of everything – murder; kidnap; creepy servants; an eccentric millionaire; a spooky old mansion; ghosts; and of course an intrepid young sleuth. There are other delights here too, but in order not to spoil the surprise I shall let you discover them for yourself.
This is a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable story, told in the voice of a witty, slightly eccentric and very amiable character. Although it does stand alone as a novel without having to have read the other books in the series, I feel the reading experience would be even more enhanced knowing more about Odd’s back story. As soon as I finished this book I bought the first Odd Thomas book, in order to get introduced to him properly.