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Book Author: Brad Smith

SHOOT THE DOG by Brad Smith: Book Review

Virgil Cain needs a few dollars to pay his tax bill, so when two men from the production company that’s shooting a movie nearby ask to rent his two Percherons for the film at five hundred dollars a day, he agrees.  Then it turns out that they need a wrangler to handle the horses, given that their leading man has a horse phobia, so Virgil is going to get an additional five hundred dollars a day for himself.  Sounds good, even though Virgil probably hasn’t seen a Hollywood film made after 1970.  Easy money, right?

Shoot the Dog is the third Virgil Cain mystery.  Virgil is a farmer and cattle rancher in upstate New York, a man without a plasma television set, a cell phone, or an answering machine/voice mail on his landline.  But he’s content with his life and very happy about his relationship with Claire, a New York state trooper.

He doesn’t quite see what all the fuss regarding the film is about, just because Olivia Burns is coming to town to star in “Frontier Woman.”  In fact, even after he’s hired, he remains unmoved by the hoopla surrounding the movie.  That is, until Olivia’s body is found in the river.

Olivia was the nicest person involved in the film.  The clueless director, Robb Fetterman, hasn’t read the book on which the movie is based; the director’s wife and the film’s co-producer, Samantha Sawchuk, will do anything to get the necessary funding for the film, including lying, backstabbing, and firing people who are in her way; Levi Brown is another producer and is the self-absorbed, self-proclaimed “money man”; and Ronnie Red Hawk, a pseudo-Indian and multi-millionaire, is the latest addition to the list of producers.

Brad Smith’s ear for dialog is terrific, as are his depictions of the characters in the novel.  The movie-town threesome of Robb, Sam, and Levi is brilliantly written.  It’s hard to decide which member of the trio is more unappealing; I found myself fervently rooting against each one of them.  And Ronnie Red Hawk, with his delusions of grandeur and his preparation for his acceptance speech at the Oscars based upon his twenty-four hours as a movie backer and producer, is a masterful portrait.  Indeed, a scummier group would be hard to find.

On the other hand, you will find yourself totally delighted by Virgil Cain.   He’s down-to-earth, hard-working, and intelligent enough to know when to appear a trifle slow.  If the movie people want to see him as a rube, a small town nobody, that’s okay with him, as long as they pay him a thousand dollars a day for himself and his horses.  His put-downs of the Hollywood types are swift and to the point.

How did Brad Smith write two previous books that got past me?  I’m going to place my order for Crow’s Landing and Red Means Run right now.

You can read more about Brad Smith at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.