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Entertaining. Koontz's fans will gobble this one up.

Koontz (Odd Hours, 2008, etc.) drops Odd Thomas, likable fry cook and spirit-sensing savant, into Roseland, a castle near Montecito, Calif., a place “one hundred stops beyond Oz on the Tornado Line Express.”

Roseland was built by Constantine Cloyce, newspaper and film mogul. Think Hearst and La Cuesta Encantada. The estate is now owned by hedge-fund rich Noah Wolflaw. Wolflaw has invited Odd to take refuge, but only because the odd one is accompanied by a soul as prescient as he, Annamaria, a young, pregnant woman Odd met, who tells him soon the hours will “test your will and break your heart.” That, Odd knows, for he’s met a spirit on the estate reluctant to move to the Other Side, a murdered woman riding a giant Friesian stallion. From her, Odd learns that her son is in danger at Roseland. Odd explores the estate, encountering obscure security guards, a scarred and combative ruffian named Kenneth Randolph Fitzgerald Mountbatten, and “red-eyed demonic mutant somethings” intent on mayhem. The Koontz cadre will be familiar with the motif, and new readers might be charmed by the Odd, first-person narration, sarcastically humorous, yet gentle and whimsical. Odd explorations reveal the giant mansion and extensive grounds have only two women and one gardener on staff, and yet it remains dustless and immaculately groomed. Annamaria rests in the “guest tower,” offering Delphic pronouncements. Ever-imperiled by the mutant monsters with “large flat heads…blunt fleshy snouts…sharp tusks…and bodies recast in rough primate molds,” Odd does the dirty work, discovering 34 bodies of young women in a subbasement filled with steampunk contraptions designed by Nikola Tesla. Add Aleister Crowley, bondage games, combat shotguns, Beretta pistols, the membrane of time and the Hong Kong wealthy Chiang Pi-Yu, and it’s no wonder that Tesla’s ghost demands Odd pull the Master Switch.

Entertaining. Koontz's fans will gobble this one up.

Pub Date: July 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-553-80774-5

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2012

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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