The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Ghost Writer, by John Harwood

Books like this make me wish there were more Gothic novels out there. In other words, I loved it. It was pretty obvious what was going down, but that’s beside the point. Still…

Let’s say that instead of the lovely lady who raised you, you have a mother who is batshit crazy. Let’s say that Mama Dearest came to your homeland (let’s say Australia) from another country (maybe England?), and that her greatest fear is that you will go back there some day. She is so fearful that she is overly protective and completely loses it when you develop a major crush on a mysterious and evasive pen pal from her old stomping grounds in the UK. Let’s also say that her mother, your grandmother, wrote creepy short stories that your mother refuses to discuss. In fact, over time, she refuses to discuss much of anything with you.

What do you do when your dear old batshit crazy mom dies? Do you figure she had some basis for her paranoia and stay put in Australia or, better yet, change your name and move to Argentina? Or do you figure you have to get to the bottom of this, and so you fly to England to find more of Gram’s short stories, attempt to meet the mysterious and evasive pen pal, tromp through an old estate alone, believe everything you’re told, and ultimately get in a world of trouble? If you chose the last option, you’re the same kind of stupid as Harwood’s naive protagonist, Gerard Freeman.

But it was so much fun reading about Gerard’s misadventures! Even though it was clear all along that the pen pal was part of the crazy, I enjoyed thinking things like “no, don’t go there!” or “Gerard, you idiot!” Harwood provides a good yarn, maybe with a tad too much telling instead of showing, but this book was fun, fun, fun. And it was creepy enough that I made a point of not finishing it right before going to bed. I am giving this book my strongest recommendation.

As for animals, the characters in this book have no time to look beyond the humans they’re tormenting and deceiving. So there are no animal characters and only a few brief mentions of animals. (Always be afraid when the birds don’t chirp! Gerard wasn’t, and he should have been.) So The Ghost Writer is completely SAFE for animal lovers. Enjoy! And remember, if Mom’s a nutcase, Argentina has a lively expat community where you’re likely to be safe — maybe.

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July 31, 2010 - Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews | , ,

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