Sharee Daley's Reviews > Watchers

Watchers by Dean Koontz
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's review
Jan 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: dean-koontz

This is Dean Koontz at his finest. The man is first and foremost a storyteller par excellence, and "Watchers" reels you in just-like-that---zip! All of his favorite elements are in play: the hulking government-sponsored lab, the super dog, the pathetic monster, the burnt out protagonist and redemption. It may be a formula, but then so is the chef's masterpiece. When it's done right, it's a work of art. The dialogue is Koontzian stiff (the dog has the best lines), but with such strong characterizations, it is but of small moment.
Travis Connell is a man in bleak despair. He has lost everyone who meant anything to him and is convinced he is a jinx. With great serendipity he meets an extraordinary golden retriever and one of life's misfits, Nora Devon. The dog and Travis meet and mutually support one another in a wilderness area where something unknown is threatening them. They in turn meet the sheltered, totally repressed Nora and save her from a sexual predator who is insinuating himself into her life. The three are inexorably drawn to one another and each almost miraculously strengthens the others.

The story shifts among the trio, a workaholic NSA agent, and a particularly repellent professional hit man with a God complex. The hit man Vince is wonderfully rendered and, unfortunately for the reader, we understand all too well his skewed logic. Lemuel Johnson, the NSA agent, has too much personal baggage and sometimes retards the story. The golden retriever, subsequently named Einstein, is a perfect realization of a dog that has been genetically engineered for high intelligence. He thinks, he reasons, he communicates (no, he can't talk, thank God!), but he remains very much a dog with all the traits we human dog lovers treasure. Somehow the author keeps him from ever being cute or a circus wonder; he has dignity and gravitas.

This is a great, fast read that will leave you with something to think about and makes the reader face some moral ambiguities. Mr. Koontz flawlessly pushes all our buttons in this, possibly his best, novel.


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