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Friday, 19 July 2013

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, by Duncan Whitehead, Reviewed.


An unusual title for an unusual book. I was unsure what to expect from this book, which as I write this, has been listed as a finalist in the 2013 Readers’ Favourite annual International Award Contest in the humour category. There’s certainly an element of humour in the story and its presentation, and I did laugh out loud quite a lot whilst reading. So, I wish it well in that contest. Comedy isn’t noted for its ability to travel, so my enjoyment of the humour, as a Brit, suggests this one has managed that trick rather well.

If I say that the book is a ‘light’ crime novel, you might get the idea that it is a different type of book than the one I actually read. There is a deal of the minutiae involved in the lives of the many characters, all of whom are well drawn. Lots of detail and some repetition that describes the people and their lives; many of which are about to be changed. Superficial appearances are shown to be misleading. Love and lust are interchangeable for some of the protagonists here and the element of cheating is not uncommon, giving the whole community a slightly seedy feel.

I found myself rooting for some characters, only to discover in later pages that they weren’t the innocents I had first taken them for. The pettiness, selfishness, ambition and deceit of the characters come across well, so that their ultimate fates, initially apparently unjust, become almost desirable.

There are several surprises along the way in this well-plotted novel. I found myself quite convinced I had the identities of villains and victims sorted early on, only to discover that clever wording had fooled me. I enjoyed the read, even if it was a little longer than might have been absolutely essential. I suspect that the inclusion of so much detail was a way of conveying the very ordinariness of the lives that were introduced, only to then prove that these lives were, in fact, not at all ordinary. A good read that I recommend.
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