Book Reviews: Dog Gone, Back Too Soon & A Wanted Woman
Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez

Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout
Hyperion, $15.00, 325 pages

You were sure that everyone was in awe.

There you were, poised, confident, and in control. You had a handle on things and you were workin’ it. All eyes were on you, watching, and you were sure they were impressed with the razzle-dazzle you displayed.

And then things went wrong. Horribly, publicly wrong and you went from great to goat in two-point-four seconds. But as you’ll see in the new novel, Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout, things are never as bad as they seem.

Dr. Cyrus Mills didn’t plan on practicing veterinary medicine. No, he was way more comfortable behind a microscope, but when his father died and left him Bedside Manor for Sick Animals in Eden Falls, Vermont, Cy had little choice but to take the reins of the shaky business.

He’d had one offer to buy the clinic but, to Cy, Bedside Manor represented something he wanted from his father, something he needed to understand. Meanwhile, he’d made it clear to Healthy Paws’ general manager that Bedside Manor wasn’t for sale. Cy, though unsure of himself, hoped Eden Falls’ citizens would support him like they supported his father, rather than patronize a corporate-run chain.

He never figured that Healthy Paws would play dirty.

But aggressive tactics from a rival business weren’t foremost on Cy’s mind.

Days before, he’d gone on a long-anticipated date with lovely Amy, a waitress at Eden Fall’s diner, and it went poorly. Mid-dinner, she’d taken a mysterious phone call that gave Cy reason to believe she was involved with someone else. That was just his luck lately.

And then there were the animals and their owners who needed his help. They took up a good amount of space in Cy’s brain: Tallulah, the mastiff who’d eaten herbal brownies; Marmalade Succabone, a fat cat whose kitty-mama was a lonely divorcee; Ermintrude, a Jersey cow whose mystery disease mirrored that of her owner; and Gilligan, a border collie who was wasting away for no apparent reason. And then there was the man who asked Cy to help him do something unthinkable…

But what was also unthinkable was letting Healthy Paws buy the clinic. Cy’s late father had put his heart into the business and his clients now depended on Cy. Weren’t those reasons enough to keep it?

Pet lovers, grab your bookmarks. There’s a new Big Dog on the shelves, and his name is Nick Trout.

Yes, author Trout will make novel fans and pet owners happy with this somewhat-sequel to his last novel (though this book can be read by itself). In Dog Gone, Back Soon, we’re re-acquainted with the introverted, “science-nerd” Cyrus Mills and his neighbors, a gossipy, good-hearted bunch that just want Cy to succeed. That makes this a lightly humorous, sweetly heartwarming tale that’s share-able, comfortably predictable, yet thoroughly enjoyable.

Your book group will like this book. Your parents will like this book. And I think you will, too, particularly if your roommate has four feet. Read Dog Gone, Back Soon and you’ll be in awwwwww.

A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey
Dutton, $26.95, 451 pages

If there’s one thing you’ve learned in life, it’s that the Boy Scouts were right: Always Be Prepared.

Look ahead and get ready for what’s next. Don’t leave your guard down. Cover all bases and expect the unexpected. Still, as you’ll see in the new novel A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey, there are some things you simply can’t foresee.

She was known as MX-401.

It wasn’t always that way; when she was born, she was named Goldilocks to spite her father, who refused to think a Bajan man and a black woman could have a white child with yellow hair. And yet, it was he who laid claim to her when her mother died, and it was he who taught her to fight with hands, feet, and brain. It was he, known as Old Man Reaper, who reluctantly allowed her into The Barbarians, an organization feared around the world.

Few men had earned the M or the X before their agent numbers, but MX-401 had. She was a “woman with a thousand faces,” she was the best of her father but with her own style, much to the chagrin of her superiors. To them, she was a loose cannon but they sent her to Trinidad to do a job nonetheless.

It was supposed to be an easy kill. Intel placed the target – a high-ranking politician – at a party held by the Laventille Killers, a gang of ruthless drug lords who practically ran the island. MX-401 had her orders – to eliminate the target at all costs - but things went horribly awry.

The target wasn’t where he was supposed to be and she had to kill him in broad daylight, along with three others, including two LK guntas. She knew it wasn’t sanctioned. It wasn’t according to plan, which would anger her superiors, but she didn’t know just how angry they were until they hid her in Barbados - and left her there.

Barbados was purgatory. It was an island-prison, and the Barbarians refused to send help. What’s worse: Barbados was a short Jet-Ski ride from Trinidad, and the LK would never let things slide…

Whooo-eee. A Wanted Woman is one of those books that gets so under your skin that you’re compelled to turn to the last sentence early, just to reassure yourself that the main character lives. (And don’t bother. You can’t tell).

It’s Die-Hard-meets-Jackie-Brown-meets-Chuck-Palahniuk, but with rocket launchers. It’s fast-paced, gruesome, and violent with wry veins of surprising humor and one of the smartest secret agents you’ll ever meet. Author Eric Jerome Dickey excels at making his thriller heroines over-the-top resourceful and steel-tough, and MX-401 is no exception.  This book had me at the introduction, and it’s a miracle that I didn’t rip its pages because I was turning them so fast.

You should’ve already figured out that this isn’t Beaver-Cleaver territory; A Wanted Woman is filled with bloodshed and profanity, but there’s nothing iller than a thriller like this. If an action-packed book is what you need, grab it—and be prepared.

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