Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review: Orchid Beach, by Stuart Woods

I thought I'd switch my book reviews up a little bit; I didn't actually used to read very much non fiction at all.  Of course, I didn't used to read dog training books at all either, and then got the Elka.

Orchid Beach, by Stuart Woods, caught my eye for a number of reasons. 1. There's a Doberman on the cover (albeit a sort of strange looking Doberman, whose neck isn't quite long enough or something. My eye for conformation is still not precise, but getting more educated.) 2. There's a female main character in a police role. 3. The Doberman on the cover is actually supposed to be a character.  It's a constant irritation to me that a work of fiction will frequently contain a dog, but the dog on the cover of the book will not be the correct breed or color.  In this case Daisy the Doberman (yeah, I know) is in fact black and rust.

I'm not going to give the whole rundown of the plot here, because, well, you can read the Amazon synopsis or just decide to read the book. I'm bad at summarizing and will instead just kind of tell the whole story, which is not my aim.  I read the book because I was mostly curious about the role that Daisy was going to take.

Daisy's owner is never seen alive in the book, and Daisy comes into Holly (the main character's) possession fairly early, along with an inches thick folder labelled "Daisy: a good working bitch".  Now, to non-dog people, this doesn't mean a whole lot.  I'm not working-dog people, not really, but I have an idea that this means Daisy has a lot of intelligence, drive, and energy and has likely been trained in either Schutzhund or Personal Protection.  I practically couldn't stand reading the "human" parts of the book, because I wanted to read this showcase of the working Doberman.

Spoilers follow, so you're aware.

Suffice to say, I was disappointed.  Daisy can get a beer out of the fridge and close the fridge door on her way back.  Daisy spends a lot of time in the car with the windows cracked (in Florida! This is exceedingly dangerous for the dog).  Daisy is used to intimidate suspects by being brought places on a short leash and allowed to bark and growl and look menacing.  In a situation where Daisy gets herself out of said car (the power windows of which worked, improbably), she does not in fact perform in an admirable working manner.  I mean, Woods means for her to, but his Bad Guy is just Too Bad.  All in all, Daisy is more decoration than a character, and though the personality of Dobermans is displayed a little bit in her described mannerisms, it wasn't quite enough for me.  

Also, the police procedural intent of the novel, while intricately set up and certainly thought out, didn't really do it for me.  I do not think in a very "Law and Order" way, and yet found myself questioning the gaps in the described investigation.  However, I suppose I liked it well enough, as I'm reading book two, Orchid Blues. So take this as you will.

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