Wilson (A Man of His Own, 2013, etc.) again goes to the dogs to explore fractured lives, this time adding crime to the mix.
The dog is nameless and spends half the book roaming feral in the woods near Harmony Farms, Massachusetts. Symbolism, no doubt, for Cooper Harrison and Natalie Everett, romantic protagonists, are each foundering in emotional loss. Cooper’s on PTSD medical leave from the Boston police department after a madman’s explosion that killed his police K-9, Argos,the perfect work dog and companion. Ex–Wall Streeter Natalie has retreated to Second Hope Farm, a horse-rescue operation, to cope with her husband Marcus’ death. The nameless dog was peppered by an ill-tempered duck hunter, the town’s bigwig, and it's Cooper’s job to corral it, having signed on as temporary animal control officer. Cooper at first doesn’t want the job back in the place where he’s known as the the town drunk’s kid: Bull Harrison, "a lumbering shaggy dog of a man, " came back from Vietnam and took to the bottle in a ramshackle house on Poor Farm Road. Worse, Cooper’s estranged brother is just out of Walpole Prison. Cooper’s "spent far too many years of my professional career working to put people like my brother behind bars." Now he’s rounding up Cutie Pie, a pet donkey. It’s Lifetime movie material—easily readable, emotion-wracked drama about love lost and found—with one-size-fits-all characters like bachelor farmer/surrogate uncle Deke, crazy cat lady Polly and goth-chick shelter assistant Jenny. The feral dog is tamed, Bull falls off the wagon and climbs back on with Cooper’s help, and the rich guy gets his comeuppance.
Not the best of Wilson’s canine stories.