A man is hiking in a remote area of California when he discovers a dog. As Travis attempts to continue along the path, the dog blocks him. When he tries to "outsmart" the dog, it seems to be a step ahead of him, refusing to allow him to continue. And then the woods get really quiet. The dog growls. The hair on the back of Travis' neck rises, so does yours. Something very unpleasant is out there, watching, stalking. Thus begins an incredible journey for Travis and the dog (later named "Einstein" by Travis). Einstein is one of two genetically engineered products of a secret lab in the California foothills. He was developed for his advanced learning and thinking abilities. The other product was developed for war. And both have escaped from the lab. While the one is hunting Einstein, the dog helps Travis out of his depression and back into life.
Watchers is arguably one of Dean Koontz' best works. While it can be viewed strictly as a suspense/thriller, there are a few more facets to this story. In the Einstein/Travis arc, Koontz deals with loyalty, trust, and friendship. As Einstein reveals himself as more than "just a dog," Travis connects with him and will do anything to prevent him from returning to the lab or to the government. With the evil product, "The Outsider," he adds suspense and fear, and makes a statement about engineered genetics. And using an assassin, who is dispatching high level scientists associated with the lab, he increases the tension as this is an unknown person, stalking Einstein. If I have one complaint, it is that the ending was a little too "neat" for the build-up. Koontz has written an excellent novel but when some characters intersect at the end, I expected more.
Overall, this is a fast, entertaining read and is highly recommended.
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