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by Nick Trout

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4013-1088-2
Publisher: Hyperion

It’s tough to resist a good story that features four-legged creatures, which highlight this surprisingly upbeat tale about a son who returns home following the death of his long estranged father.

Cyrus Mills isn’t a warm, fuzzy kind of person, and choosing a career as a veterinary pathologist seems a logical choice: He’s following in his late mother’s footsteps, and he gets to work in solitude, which he prefers. When Robert Cobb, Cyrus’ father, dies and bequeaths Bedside Manor for Sick Animals to him, he returns to his former home in a small town in Vermont. Cyrus is eager to sell his inheritance and leave Eden Falls behind. He has few fond memories of his life there, except for the time he spent with his mother, and he needs the money from the sale to fund a legal battle to reinstate his license, which has been temporarily suspended following charges of wrongdoing filed by his former employer. But Cyrus quickly discovers that in addition to being a workaholic and an absentee dad, Dr. Cobb was mired in debt. Unless Cyrus can prove that his father’s heavily mortgaged veterinary clinic is worth a potential buyer’s investment—within the week—he’ll lose the sale, and it appears that a sinister banker and an anonymous blackmailer might be rooting against him. With a light touch and conversational tone, Trout (Ever by My Side, 2011, etc.) delivers a doggone charming tale. Rather than dispensing an overload of schmaltz, which is difficult to avoid in a feel-good story that introduces a magnitude of furry friends and their often eccentric owners, the author manages to successfully pull off a straightforward, energizing story with a message that doesn’t choke on its own sweetness. Cyrus, of course, transforms during the week as he’s forced to interact with each character, revisit his past and contemplate his future. He becomes an excellent healer, and with the help of a group of caring individuals, including a gentle mentor, an attractive waitress, a gruff receptionist and all of his four-legged friends, he also becomes one of the healed.

Two paws up.