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Sandra Parshall's Under the Dog Star Reviewed By Gordon Osmond of Bookpleasures.com
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Gordon Osmond

Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.

He has reviewed books and stageplays for http://CurtainUp.com and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE

Gordon can also be heard on the Electic Authors Showcase.







 
By Gordon Osmond
Published on May 2, 2011
 


Author:Sandra Parshall

Publisher:Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN:9781590588789  Hardcover:
9781590588802 Trade Paperback




Click Here To Purchase Under the Dog Star

Author:Sandra Parshall

Publisher:Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN:9781590588789  Hardcover:
9781590588802 Trade Paperback

For the most part, Sandra Parshall's latest addition to her Rachel Goddard's mystery series follows in the familiar footsteps of the whodunit. Get the murder out of the way straightaway, make the victim as unappetizing as possible so as to create a large population of motivated suspects, and, finally, assign the ferreting out of the assassin to the novel's central character.

In Under the Dog Star, set in a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia very different than that celebrated in the song of the same name, the victim is a tyrannical and perhaps sadistic doctor who is the head not only of a hospital that he founded but also of a family that the author aptly describes at one point as "primordial ooze." The sleuth is a deputy sheriff who is living in sin in his family's farmhouse with the local veterinarian, Dr. Rachel Goddard.

Dr. Rachel is sorely needed in Mason County for it is virtually overrun with a highly diverse collection of animals. The dogs come in many varieties—adorable pets, feral pack members, fighters, bait for fighters, and trained attack dogs, all of various breeds. Token cats and a talking parrot are also around.

The members of the murder victim's household are equally mixed, not to mention mixed up. His children are a veritable full house—two born of the doctor and his ailing wife, and three adopted, in two cases locally and one internationally. The extended family is as mixed in breed as the dogs—whites, blacks, mulattos, and Melungeons.

Those with reason to murder the doctor include both direct and associate members of his family and those who are connected with his activities as administrator of his hospital.

The author manages rather deftly to address some basic ideological issues in her narrative. In dealing with the problems created by the pack of feral dogs, there is a clear conflict between death penalty advocates and those who put their faith in rehabilitation. Similarly, the conflict between the rule of law represented by our deputy sheriff and the mob rule of a renegade posse is vividly presented.

The linear, almost real time story-telling technique is similarly solid, particularly the author's attention to detail in presenting dialogue. The words are supplemented by comments on surrounding circumstances which adds good texture to the scene. Sometimes the dialogue itself is a bit heavy on exposition, but in view of the many characters involved in the complex story, the reader will probably appreciate the reminders and summaries of what has gone before.

Our lead sleuth is somewhat lacking in charisma. He doesn't have the charming insouciance of Peter Falk in Columbo or the dry humor of Jerry Orbach in Law and Order. One is tempted to say that he performs his chasing chores rather doggedly. On the other hand, his partner vet, Rachel, is portrayed as a person of pluck, stubbornness, and passionate dedication to her cause. With all these live-in lovers have to do, it's no wonder that their physical contacts with each other are decidedly understated.

In any murder mystery one must expect a well stocked pool of red herrings. The only one that I thought a bit naughty was one that relates to the book's title.

Fans of murder mysteries will get their full of mayhem and local color and characters in this well written tale of drugs, arson, and most centrally, dog eat dog (and man).


Click Here To Purchase Under the Dog Star