Watchers is supposedly one of Dean Koontz's classics. Since at this time I have not read enough of his books, I can not compare it to many others. While maybe a slightly overrated, this is most definitely a solid book all around.
It starts off with Travis Cornell, of Santa Barbara (California), wandering around in the woods where he meets a golden retriever that starts to follow him around. They both take an instant liking to each other. Right away, Travis finds, the dog seems scared about something. Well, as time goes on, the dog--which Travis names Einstein--begins to display unusual behavior. It is almost human-like intellect. While he doesn't actually talk, he is able to understand the English language.
At the same time, we are introduced to this homely woman named Nora. She is being stalked by a perverted man. As time passes, Einstein leads Travis and Nora together where they became close and eventually marry. It starts off at a simple day at the park where Einstein manipulates events and Nora's stalker ends up in jail. So, really, it was the dog that brings this couple together.
Travis tells Nora about Einstein and his intellect, and they both begin to find ways to communicate better with him.
In another part of the state, there is this "thing". Another genetically altered animal. This one, however, is a brutal killer. He is a mix of different types of species of animals. They called it The Outsider. The Outsider had one thing on his mind. He wants Einstein dead.
So, with The Outsider after them, Travis, Nora, and Einstein are constantly on the run. They know this could not last forever so they eventually settle down to prepare for the inevitable confrontation. You will have to read the novel to see how it ends.
This was a very good book. However, I thought it was a little bloody for my liking--so keep that in mind. If there there is a justification here, it is Dean Koontz who puts everything in its perspective. He does not write about bloody murders just because he could, but because there is an actual purpose to it all. For the record, most people die in the first 100 pages, then it mellows out a little.
Another negative aspect of this story is this: I had little motivation to read large chunks of it at a time. Until the excitement really starts in the end, it is a book that you pick and have to digest slowly.
The main positive I saw in Watchers is the great character development from an author who typically is not known for this. Even the dog is likable. And this is coming from a cat person. You really feel for the characters in this book. Another character I neglected to mention was Lemuel Johnson. An obsessed NSA member. He was intent on finding the dog and the outsider. He reminded me somewhat of Tommy Lee Jones character in The Fugitive, Sam Gerard, because yes - he was chasing down the good guy, but he was doing it for the right reasons. He was developed well.
The actual storyline is not all that deep. However, the dialog flows nicely, despite some appropriately placed lengthy description. And what the novel does best is a suspenseful setting, that it does very well.
So, Watchers is a very good novel in most aspects and come recommended for those who are not faint of heart.