Book Review: Men and Dogs

At thirty-five Hannah still has flashbacks of fishing trips with her father Buzz just before he mysteriously disappeared forever. Although officially ruled dead, Hannah cannot shake the feeling there must be more, that maybe her father wasn’t really drowned at sea. Although her mother and brother Palmer seemed to accept the verdict in stride, Hannah has never let go the hope that one day she will run into him. It is a thought that has dominated Hannah’s life to the point of ruining her business, marriage and health. Repeated infidelities finally led to Hannah’s long-suffering husband kicking her out of their house. Injured while attempting to break back into their house, Hannah returns home to Charleston, North Carolina to recuperate and pull her life together.

Once home Hannah begins digging deep into her past, discovering secrets about her parents relationship, reconnecting with old boyfriends and retracing her father’s last footsteps. Palmer has his own personal problems; his gay partner wants to pursue adopting a child, a prospect that fills him with terror. The unsatisfying conclusion finds Hannah repeating her previous actions in hopes that this time, things will be different.

After Girls in Trucks, readers may be forgiven for expecting more from Crouch’s latest lackluster offering. Throughout the book Hannah remains a shallow, self-centered character incapable of letting go of the past and taking responsibility for her actions. Yes, it can be argued that Buzz’s disappearance permanently scarred his children but to do so is to take the easy way out and absolve them of their irresponsibility. While there are moments of bright wit, the characters aren’t interesting or strong enough to carry the tale.

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