Shoot the Dog by Brad Smith is a novel about the film industry, the people who work in it, and the people who accidentally become involved in it. This is more of a satirical novel than a mystery, but could definitely be enjoyed by people who like both styles of writing.
“In upstate New York, Virgil Cain is drawing hay behind his team of massive Percherons when two movie scouts show up and offer $500 a day to use the horses in a film to be shot in the area. Virgil, in need of cash, reluctantly pockets the money, but he soon finds the chaotic set of Frontier Woman to be more trouble than it’s worth. Savvy producer Sam Sawchuk is in over her head; when she’s not propping up her talent-challenged husband-cum-director, she’s trying to keep tabs on a new investor, the Native American casino owner Ronnie Red Hawk, a rambling egomaniac with designs on an infamous starlet. When the film’s leading lady turns up dead, Virgil discovers that more is at stake than the carnal interests of a casino magnate and the production of a major motion picture. And although he’d rather leave the whole bunch to stew in their own juices, he realizes he needs to step in before a charming ten-year-old actress named Georgia becomes the next victim.” – Shoot the Dog
Shoot the Dog is the type of novel that is more character driven and satirical than most books I read. However, I did enjoy reading this one. It is smartly written and above all else, entertaining.
The characters are developed very well. I especially enjoyed reading about the horse Bob, who wasn’t camera shy at all. I would have loved to have seen more of this in the book. I also really liked the ten year old actress, Georgia who reminded me of Dakota Fanning at that age. There are other sleazy movie producer types in there, but I don’t really want to waste this review on them because I didn’t personally like any of them.
The movie being filmed in the book is a period piece set in the 1840s. It is very stereotypical and the actual experience of it all seemed a bit draining. It definitely wasn’t the highlight of the book for me like it should have been. I mean, I like movies, and I like books, so it should have been a sure thing. Somehow it just didn’t quite click like it could have for me. Although I did like the story, it could have been better.
Overall, this is a good novel. It is a nice slow read that really delves into the characters. It could have been more action packed and more to the point, but it is still worth reading.
* Thank you to the publisher of Shoot the Dog, Scribner, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.