Koontz’ books — more than 50 to date — often feature ordinary people facing extraordinary evil. It’s a theme Koontz draws from his own life, as he was raised by a father whom Koontz has described as a sociopath. Later in his life Koontz’s father made two attempts on the author’s life, one involving a struggle with a knife after which Dean found himself facing two police officers with drawn guns. It’s material that he has used in his work.
“I used a version of that incident in my novel, Mr. Murder,” said Koontz. “Everything becomes material to a novelist.”
While his books tell dark stories, many readers have found Koontz’ work increasingly spiritual. Some have even compared his work to that of author Flannery O’Connor.
“From the Corner of His Eye struck me very clearly as being about the mystical body of Christ,” said Christopher Check, executive vice president of the Rockford, Ill.-based Rockford Institute. “It’s about how the death of one of the members diminishes all of us and how the good acts of one of the members improves all of us.”
“There are very obvious Catholic elements in many of Koontz’s novels,” said Check. “He tackles themes of redemption, heaven and, in his latest series, shows that he understands the necessity of sacramental confession.”
If Odd Thomas is to at all resemble a saint, “That raises the stakes of what I’m going to have to do with this character,” said Koontz. “I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”
Wesley Smith agreed. In the books, the character, as described by Smith, is becoming increasingly selfless.
“He’s simplifying his life … away from what the world sees as important,” says Smith.
The spiritual component is something that Koontz says has always been present in his work.
“Spirituality has always been an element of my books,” said Koontz. “People who see it as a sudden development were just not perceiving it previously, when it was less central to the story.”
“I can walk in the rose garden, watch the joyful capering of my dog, and see the indisputable work of God. The key is beauty,” says Koontz, who converted to the Catholic faith while in college. “If the world is merely a complex and efficient machine, beauty is not required. Beauty is in fact superfluous. Therefore beauty is a gift to us. If we were soulless machines of meat, the survival instinct would be all we needed to motivate us. The pleasures of the senses — such as taste and smell — are superfluous to machines in a godless world. Therefore, they are gifts to us, and evidence of divine grace. The older I’ve gotten, the more beauty, wonder, and mystery I see in the world, which is why there are ever more of those three things in my books. “