BOOK HUNGRY: scent of the missing

who says you have to be crowded into the living room, kitchen, and/or dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbach, vanessa noble, alyson peterson, cynthia reese, elizabeth ryann, and myself. here’s the deal. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is:

SCENT OF THE MISSING by susannah charleson


what it’s about from amazon: In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper: an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image that she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face.

Still she felt the call, and once she qualified to train a dog of her own, she adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitudes as a working dog but who was less interested in the role of compliant house pet. Puzzle’s willfulness and high drive, both assets in the field, challenged even Susannah, who had raised dogs for years.

Scent of the Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle’s adventures together and of the close relationship they forge as they search for the lost–a teen gone missing, an Alzheimer’s patient wandering in the cold, signs of the crew amid the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. From the earliest air-scent lessons to her final mastery of whole-body dialog, Puzzle emerges as a fully collaborative partner in a noble enterprise that unfolds across the forests, plains, and cityscapes of the Southwest. Along the way Susannah and Puzzle learn to read the clues in the field, and in each other, to accomplish together the critical work neither could do alone and to unravel the mystery of the human/canine bond.

my opinion: okay, so some of you know this, some of you may not. *opens closet door, lets skeleton out* i’m not a big fan of animals. i said as much during the november book hungry post, and i feel the need to state it again not for attention, but because it shows you how lovely this book was since i’m here to report that I LIKED THIS BOOK. and now i find myself watching dogs with a more sensitive eye wondering what they’re thinking, smelling, feeling. i owe that to this book. charleson’s descriptions of the search and rescue dogs are fascinating and they made the dogs seem slightly human, and hey, i like humans! which means i liked these dogs!

i repeat, i liked these dogs!

the only gripe i have with this book is the pacing. it was a bit slow for my taste. i mean charleson leads a really interesting life. she’s a flight instructor as well as a volunteer search and rescuer. that’s some juicy stuff right there, but the story got a bit bogged down with the details and scents and sights of every single training session and every single search. if it had been pared down to just the training + the big missions, i think the story would have flowed a bit more smoothly.

but, as it was, overall — i liked the story. and now, instead of just instantly wrinkling my nose when my friends’ dogs come around, i may even pat them. as unconventional of a review as that is, i think that’s the sign of a successful book.

for next month, we read elizabeth’s pick: KISS OF SNOW by nalini singh.

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4 Responses to “BOOK HUNGRY: scent of the missing”

  1. Linda G. Says:

    I’d say that is an excellent review. If someone who isn’t even a dog person likes a book with this subject matter, it must be a good book.

    BTW, it’s okay not to be an animal lover. Doesn’t make you a bad person. :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      charleson definitely knows her dogs! i think disney should pick this up and cartoonize it. i’d watch.

      and yes, i know it’s okay not to be an animal lover, but tell that to everyone else!

  2. Patty Blount Says:

    I agree; you’re not bad because you’re not a fan. I’m actually afraid of most dogs. Last summer, at a barbecue, my friend’s dog lunged for a toddler. I acted without thinking and just tackled him, hauling him off the baby by his choke collar and literally sitting on top of him until the owners took over. I shudder to think what could have happened.

    • abby mumford Says:

      wow, things i didn’t expect to hear today — that one time when patty saved the day by tackling a dog. bravo!

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