Tuesday, July 9, 2013

'Shoot the Dog'

The Pacific Northwest has been experiencing the hottest Summer in years.  I've been taking short hikes, and sitting in parks, doing all the Summery things that people are wont to do.

Although it's considered more of an cold weather past time, I've been doing a lot of reading as I cool off in the shade of my favorite tree.  When I look around, I've noticed that other people are reading, too.  Some are using e-readers, but most have their noses in real books.  With the steady decline of independent bookstores in my region, I've lost a bit of faith in the continued production of print books.  But then reality hits me in the head and I know, I just know that real books will always be alive-and-well...and will be very collectible (as in 'worth money') in the near future.  Part of my job is listing things on ebay, and my jaw drops when I research the value of some vintage books.  Even newer books are climbing the collectible ladder.  Hope springs.

But I digress.  

I have just finished a good mystery novel, 'Shoot the Dog', written by Brad Smith, and the third book in his series about Virgil Caine, former baseball player and murder suspect.

When I first read that character's name, I thought of Joan Baez's famous song.  But that was quickly forgotten once I got into the story.  It's a quick read, but very memorable.  There is a strong sense of place in Smith's story.  A farmer living in upstate New York, Virgil is no 'country bumpkin'; he's sharp, quiet, and intelligent, a man with a history and a sense of who he is.  

Virgil Cain and his draft horses are busy pulling a hay wagon when two film scouts show up and offer him $500 a day for their use in a film.  Needing the money for taxes, Virgil reluctantly agrees, but finds the chaotic set of Frontier Woman a very uncomfortable place to be.  But when the body of the film's leading lady is found dead, Virgil steps in before the ten year-old co-star ends up the next victim.

The interesting characters with over-inflated egos are the comic relief of this story; Sam, the harried film producer, and Robb, her clueless director husband, and Ronnie Red Hawk, a Native American casino owner who not only has a financial interest in the film, but also in the new leading lady.

But you will remember Virgil Caine.  His quiet attitude, his happiness with the simple country life.  His knowledge of film, and his passion for Claire, a police detective.

A man this little Book Hog fell in love with.

'Shoot the Dog' by Brad Smith will be available on July 16, 2013 from Scribner.  It is the third in the 'Virgil Cain' series.  


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