” From the first, the dog and The Outsider had possessed a special awareness of each other, an uncanny instinctual awareness of each other’s moods and activities even when they were not in the same room. Davis Weatherby had suggested, more than half seriously, that there was something telepathic about the relationship of those two creatures. (Part I, 5.6.224)
Part suspense fiction and part science fiction, Watchers in the core is a story of love and how it transpires our lives. Thirty six-year-old Travis Cornell, ex-Delta Force man, successful real estate broker, is a loner of a tragic past. Since adolescence, his brother and parents succumbed to illness or accident, one by one. On a day hike Travis stumbles upon a stray golden retriever that seems to possess an uncanny intelligence as well as a degree of self-awareness. The dog leads Travis to Nora, a beautiful former recluse who never experiences the warmth of companionship.
But at Banodyne, it harbored a fierce hatred of the dog, worse than what it felt toward people. When Yarbeck worked with it, constructing a sign language with which to communicate complex ideas, The Outsider several times expressed a desire to kill and mutilate the dog, but it would never explain why. (Part I, 6.6.295)
The golden retriever they call Einstein is the product of a top-secret genetic engineering experiment and the central character of the book. The K.G.B., through a hired professional killer who believes he can attain immortality by inhaling the last breaths of the dead, has just rubbed out all the scientists involved in the project, and Einstein, along with a monstrous creation bred to kill, are the escapees. The mutant killer, evil as Einstein is good, loathes its own ugliness and has a penchant for decapitation and a compulsion to gouge out eyes.
We have a responsibility to stand watch over one another, we are watchers, all of us, watchers, guarding against the darkness. (Part II, 9.2.526)
So Travis and Nora, against the pursuit of the crazy hitman, government agents, and the beast, assume a new identity—one that stands up to inspection—in order to protect the remarkable dog that has become more than just family and friends. Koontz is an amazing stylist and story-teller. Despite the sometimes pedestrian, heavy-handed writing, he keeps reader interested, intrigued, and guessing. Watchers is a pulse-pounding adventure, filled with many twists. Blending science fiction, horror, and thriller, it also concerns the importance and benefits of civilization, the longing for acceptance and a meaningful existence. The darkness is not so much the violence of the beast as the human beings who want to take over the world at the expense of animals.
611 pp. Penguin. Pocket Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]