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The girl in the woods
A Dog's Life - Gerald Hammond
Member Name: CPTDANIELS
A Dog's Life - Gerald Hammond
Advantages: Initial concept was good
Disadvantages: Slow dull and disappointing mystery.
While out walking his chocolate Labrador 'Umber' Tim Russell finds a young lady living rough in the woods. The lady who is dirty and in need of a good meal he soon strikes up a conversation with, before inviting her to his home. This beautiful lady Ann is just 17 years old and through some bad luck in her life found herself without a home, friends or any available family to help her. As a result she had lived in a makeshift shack and generally tried to live quietly until Tim bumped into her.
She settled in very quickly to Tim's home and this lonely writer soon found her to be an excellent companion. With Ann more than willing to earn her keep by doing some of the households domestic chores. However before long both start to find their feelings towards each other changing. However those around them soon make their feelings known about their living arrangements. Tim then is attacked in his garden when his back is turned and ends up with a bad head injury. But who would want to hurt this shy and quiet man?
==My thought on the novel:==
I think this is one of the poorest mysteries I have ever read. And to be honest this does not come as a total shock to me as I have read several other novels by this writer with a variety of different opinions some not that complimentary. However I have to admit of them all this was the poorest and as a result and feeling that I have given this writer a fair crack of the whip I will not read another one.
Gerald Hammond I would describe as a hardcore novelist. By this I mean he has written many books, so far he has notched up 74 and he shows no sign of stopping, despite being in his mid 80's. This Scottish author spent over thirty years as an architect, before retiring to focus more of his time on his three loves, shooting, fishing and writing.
I saw this book while I was at a local Car Boot sale. I always find this a useful way of purchasing novels on the cheap especially as I read on average two books a week. I was immediately attracted to this novel simply because of the title. I love a story that involves a dog and with the aid of the summary I quickly found this one did. The summary sounded interesting and I liked the concept of this mysterious young girl and I wondered what trouble she would bring to Tim's settled but rather dull life.
When I picked up the book I was quickly aware that this was not a long story. And this is a feature that I have appreciated in this writer because a good story does not have to be an epic size and in the past I have enjoyed his shorter writing style. Although in this book I was surprised the first chapter dealt with the background to Tim's life. Yes a logical start but I expected because of the books size (169 pages) for the mystery to start on the very first page. I enjoyed his friendship with his dog Umber but as soon as Tim met Ann the dog only played a fleeting role in the story, until the ending which seemed unlikely as well.
I found I was immediately into the story and enjoying it. This is because following the background Tim met and quickly befriended Ann in the woods. I felt Tim was really asking for trouble inviting this stranger into his home and while I admired his bravery, I did wonder what he was letting himself in for. This was probably the best part of the book for me as I thought the concept was good everything that followed it for me was a real let down as Ann in many ways was not a typical teenage girl.
By this I mean she did not seem to want to do what a teenager would want to do. She seemed to have missed out on having fun, going out and partying. She seemed to just want to fit into Tim's life and I found the whole business unlikely in the extreme. Even her background was dull, I just think the author missed an opportunity and he could have really made her an exciting and challenging personality, instead we got a 17 year old girl who was already acting like a middle age woman.
The story certainly developed in a way I did not expect. And to be honest while this was different it failed to light up a spark in me. As I found it slow and hard work, I felt I was waiting for more action, more mystery and most importantly more excitement. Yes it was always well written and I get the impression the story was well devised and explained but it certainly failed to inspire me. I kept reading because I was sure they would be an excellent twist in the story that I never expected but this did not happen either.
In most mystery thrillers the conclusion is fast paced and exciting and despite the author trying to add some spice to the ending I still felt very disappointed. Again on the positive side it made sense but I did little else for me. Indeed I felt I had wasted the last three evenings and lunch breaks reading a thoroughly disappointing story that never came to life. But maybe I am being to judgemental if you want a gentle sedate story with a love interest maybe you would enjoy this.
Tim was the stories main character in the story and maybe because of his background I found I immediately liked him as a character with his outlook to life. However while his personality did not change I found him to be a bit dull. I had expected Ann to develop him as this young lady brought new meaning into his quiet and lonely life. Although it was Ann as his leading lady that was the biggest disappointment of all. A young girl living rough should have had more of a history to unravel and had more mystery about her. As it was she seemed more happy knitting in her cardigan than adding interest to the story. Ok that is not true but she did not act or behave like someone her age would and I thought to demonstrated a lack of understanding of the character he had created.
Even the mystery itself for me was disappointing. I kept expecting a clever twist to it but it did not happen. Maybe if I'm being hard I could say it was in keeping with the rest of this slow and dull story. The only positive for me was the great descriptions the author occasionally supplied of the Scottish countryside, clearly a topic he appreciates and understands, but these where too rare to add to much to the quality of the story itself.
This is a mystery never I would not recommend. For me it was far to slow and pedestrian in character and a total disappointment. Yes I thought the the initial concepts were good but the author failed to add and develop these into something exciting. In the end we had a very poor story that even the dog could not save.
Publisher: Severn House
Year first Published :2010
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published under user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
© CPTDANIELS November 2012.
Summary: Poor mystery