The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Eight Skilled Gentlemen, by Barry Hughart

As I understand it, Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds was supposed to be the first book of a series. And it certainly was good enough to justify many books to follow. But word had it that Hughart ran out of steam, or had publisher issues, or both. As quoted in his Wikipedia entry, Hughart said: Will there be more? I doubt it, and it’s not because of bad sales and worse publishers. It’s simply that I’d taken it as far as I could. … [N]o matter how well I wrote I’d just be repeating myself.

That is a sad statement, but having just finished Eight Skilled Gentlemen, I have to say it’s true. The book had none of the magic and charm found in Bridge of Birds, and it almost seemed as if it had been written in order to fulfill an obligation.

Hughart brings back Master Li Kao and Number Ten Ox to chase down a killer. Or killers. And there’s evil, there’s murder, there are things like bird cages that carry connections to demons, and I figured out who the “bad guys” were early on. It just wasn’t very interesting, which was a huge disappointment after Bridge of Birds. I so wish it had been different.

As for animals, yes, a dog does die. Also, geese get pinched so they’ll honk and create a distraction, an ape steals things, a dog is dressed as a bride, baby rats are consumed, and there are assorted other images, both pleasant and unpleasant. I am declaring this book MOSTLY SAFE for animal lovers.

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September 15, 2010 - Posted by | Book Reviews | , ,

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