In this vast universe, Dean Koontz notes, two species have formed an unbreakable bond: Dogs and human beings. And this bond, he predicts in his new thriller, “Devoted,” is about to become even stronger.
In this story, a 3-year-old golden retriever named Kipp is largely responsible for this evolution. He is no ordinary dog. He is one of the “Mysterium dogs” living in California with a big secret: They can’t speak, but they are as intelligent as human beings. Kipp even enjoys novels like “Great Expectations.” These dogs could be the result of genetic engineering, but no one knows their history or origin.
The Mysterium dogs stay in touch with each other on “the Wire,” a telepathic communication medium unique to them. One day, Kipp hears on it a strange murmur that seems to come from a human boy. The boy seems to need help, so Kipp goes to find him.
It could have been a perilous journey, but luckily, Kipp is picked up by Ben Hawkins, a good-hearted novelist and former Navy SEAL. Sensing Kipp’s need to get somewhere urgently, Hawkins follows the dog’s unspoken directions and delivers Kipp to the boy’s home some 80 miles away.
And just in time, too.
The boy, Woody Bookman, and his widowed mother, Megan, have just been terrorized by one of the evil people intent on killing them. Why? Woody, autistic and mute but a genius computer hacker, has found evidence that his father didn’t die from a freak accident. He was murdered.
Kipp learns all this from Woody, who can communicate with Mysterium dogs, and plots a dramatic way to defeat the villains.
The novel’s most poignant moment comes when Megan tentatively calls the dog “Scooby.” Woody then speaks for the first time in his 11 years of life: “No. His name is Kipp.” The boy is now freed from inhibitions that made him mute.
Canine or human, it is hard to find a more lovable character in fiction than Kipp. “Devoted” has every mark of a classic.
• Waka Tsunoda writes for AP.
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By Dean Koontz
Thomas & Mercer, $28.99, 389 pages
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