|Marc Rochat has an important job. He is Le guet de l'heure for the Lausanne Cathedral in Lausanne, Switzerland. As such, he calls the hour from the belfry each night as different bells chime which has been the custom since the cathedral was consecrated in 1275. Marc is a unique individual. Some would call him simple, some special, some not all there. Born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and one of his legs twisted by the cord he is considered fortunate that he has been born to a wealthy family. His finances are managed by an advisor who has his best interests at heart. Marc's desires are few and he enjoys and is immensely proud of his duties in the cathedral.
Katherine Taylor could be said to lead a charmed life as well. In truth she is an extremely well paid call girl, the companion of various wealthy men all over Europe and the United States. Because of the unpredictability of her profession, she has hired a Swiss banker to advise her and arranged for a person to handle her business affairs. While staying in Lausanne she notices a lantern and Marc's announcement one evening and becomes intrigued.
Jay Harper is a private detective who finds himself in an odd situation. He wakes up in a cheap hotel near London's Euston Station with no memory of how he got there; in fact the only reason he knows his name is that he finds a wallet and a passport with the name Jay Michael Harper on the floor of his hotel room. He then receives a strange phone call which is destined to change his life. The caller offers him a job in Lausanne as a security consultant for the International Olympic Committee. His first assignment involves a Russian athlete who is suspected of using illegal substance.
`How these three disparate individuals are connected evolves into a tale involving time travel, a spot of fantasy, and international intrigue. Along the way we meet characters who live in the shadows and are perceived differently by individuals who possess a special genetic gift.
The Watchers is a novel which contains elements of mystery, science fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. Illusion place a major role in the tale. That which appears to be one thing turns out to be another. There is some serious malfeasance afoot, but who is responsible and the object of the wrongdoing appears to change from one part of the story to the next.
The characters themselves are enigmatic. It is not certain that they are people in the conventional meaning of the word. The evil elements exist as shadows who come and go through black mist. Marc for instance is portrayed as having been damaged at birth yet he exhibits many of the trademark traits of an individual with autism. His command of language is spotty but he is a wizard with numbers and he has a fantastic memory. Yet unlike many autistic people he relates well with others emotionally. Jay Harper appears normal at first but in the midst of a confrontation it is clear he is anything but. Katherine seems to be out to make a living at the expense of anyone possessing a y chromosome, yet she melts under Marc's gaze.
Though this novel appears to have something for everyone, there may not be enough of any element to draw in its devotees. The novel is a long one at almost six hundred pages and is slow to draw readers in. It is not obvious who the target audience is. What at first appears to be international intrigue does not develop along those lines. Fantasy and traits not usually possessed by humans seem to be the answer to a protagonist's means of escape from danger. To completely enjoy this novel, one must be willing to suspend an ample amount of disbelief.