Title: The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club
Author: Duncan Whitehead
Publisher: Smith Publicity
Version Read: ARC/galley ebook
Publication Date: November 14, 2012.
Categories: mystery, suspense
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way reflects my feelings towards the book or the book’s review.
Summary (Netgalley): In The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, something is not quite right. The friends and fellow members of Thelma Miller’s afternoon cocktail club gather to mourn her death and lament the life of their neighbor, but as old friends vie for the attention of the new widower, Alderman and mayoral candidate Elliott, jealousies surface and friendships are strained. An old woman with a dark secret and an infamous uncle plots her revenge for a perceived wrong done over thirty years before, a once successful children’s writer with his own secret is haunted by memories of the past, and aspiring model Kelly Hudd has just won the trip of a lifetime.
As secrets are revealed, old and recent history unravels and an intertwined web of deceits and lies surface in the middle class neighborhood. Meanwhile, a killer lurks and leaves the neighbors wondering if anyone is who they appear to be. A mysterious European gentleman in South America, a young Italian count parading the streets of Paris and a charitable and kind hearted nephew recently arrived from India add to the remarkable assortment of characters in this complex and thrilling story of murder, revenge and love.
Okay, so I’m a bit ambivelent about the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club guys. The last third of the book was quite interesting and made me glad I had continued to read it, because I was seriously considering giving up on it.
It started off really good. The prologue really sucked you in. Then all of a sudden it was like I was in an entirely different book. About three kinda bitchy women who drink cocktails in the park while their dogs play and poop. So that was okay because, well, the title of the book implies a dog walking club, but I figured, the author is going to set the scene and let us know who the players are, then we’ll find out who gets dead. Didn’t happen. Insert sad face. Instead we get some random memory lane travelling which winds up being connected to the ‘people-getting-dead’ part of the plot, but it takes forever for us to figure learn that. It’s also kinda of weird and historically inaccurate, but I’ll discuss that later.
It’s touted as a mystery and thrillers but I kind of felt lied to for most of the book. It’s more like a Desperate Housewives episode than a mystery novel, right until two-thirds of the way in, when things start to get kind of interesting. I think had there been more focus on the ‘who’s-getting-dead’ part of the novel, and infact if we had been able to see results of all four of the potential victims meeting their demise it would have made for a more interesting book. I think quite a bit of the cattyness between Carla and Cindy could have been cut out, or condensed. In fact I think it would have been more of a mystery if we had come into the book just after Thelma’s ‘wake’ at Elliot’s house and started from there.
I also didn’t really care about what happened with Kelly while she was in France – she could have stuck to her morals (and her husband) and not slept with the count guy. Especially, as kept saying repeatedly throughout her time with him, he didn’t compare in looks to her husband anyways. So, I kind of felt she deserved what happened later, even though the guy did trick her.
So the historical inaccuracy that annyoed me the whole was to do with Elliot – the guy who wandered down memoory lane at the start of the book. Apparently some old guy he meet in Argentia was Hitler, or at least he thought he was Hitler (which is more likely) but he was now a fluffly bunny rabbit who paid for strangers medical bills and did other charitable things. Also, Heidi is supposedly Hitler’s niece,and has a secret room filled with stuff. Anyway, apparently the old guy was a gifted storyteller and told lots of children’s stories. He never published them, but later on Elliot did, which apparently really pissed Heidi off, although she’s never made it known publicly. The old guy also gave Elliot the only first edition of Mein Kampf, which he had signed, under his ‘assumed’ name, when he died.
My final issue was the changing viewpoints. I quite often have issues with changing viewpoints, but this was particulary annyoing because there was no indication you were changing perspective until all of a suddenyou where in a different character’s viewpoint. I think this has a tendency to work better when each chapter is a different character (and is indicated as such) or when the author denotes the change in the text. (By putting their name name in the gap between paragraphs). But this is more a of a personal annoyance for me than a problem with the book, as such.
Despite the feeling that I was been taken for a walk for most of the story, this wasn’t an awful book. The last third redeemed the book and gave it an extra star to give it a three star rating, as opposed to a 2 star rating.