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Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch

Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch is the author's second novel.  I haven't read her first one, and I'm not sure if I will.  Men and Dogs is a good book, but it wasn't one that just blew me away and made me an instant fan of the author and think, oh my god, let me read ALL of her books and every future book she releases because she is so good!  Part of this is because the ending is not tied up in a neat little bow, and the mystery with which the protagonist is obsessed and that builds throughout the book doesn't reach any sort of concrete resolution.  And I was expecting something along these lines the way the mystery was billed on the inside flap blurb and then gathers steam throughout the book.  Ultimately I think the book is more about the protagonist's journey to make peace with the unanswered questions concerning the tragedy of her childhood as opposed to being about solving for once and for all the uncertainty of her father's fate with which she's been obsessed for her entire adult life.

Hannah's father disappeared the year she turned 11.  He went out fishing one day and never came back.  His boat was found and the only passenger aboard was the family's golden retriever, Tucker.  Buzz, Hannah's father, is nowhere to be found and presumed dead by everyone (except Hannah) despite the fact that his body was never found.

Hannah's 35 now and the disappearance of her father has left her profoundly scarred and profoundly screwed up.  As a result her life is slowly disintegrating around her, and she reluctantly returns home to South Carolina to recuperate from a drunken, three story fall that marked the death knell of her marriage.  Upon her return home,  Hannah rediscovers the boxes of old photos belonging to her father that she'd hidden away years ago.  In them she finds some hard truths, but will they lead her to the ultimate truth she seeks: the certain fate of her father all those years ago.

Let's face some hard truths about Hannah herself, shall we?  Our dear protagonist is seriously messed up--she's an adulterer and a drunk.  Her obsession with finding the truth about where her father went and why (she believes, in contrast to the rest of her family, that he is still alive) has driven a wedge of estrangement between her and her mother, stepfather and brother for many years.  Yet for all her flaws all you want for her is to find out the truth so she can get on with her life.

I recommend you check out this book the next time you're at the library.  Fans of family dramas with a side of mystery will enjoy this book.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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