#BookReview: The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, by Duncan Whitehead #MondayBlogs

Blurb:

Little is what it seems to be in a leafy Savannah neighborhood as members of an afternoon cocktail and dog walking club mourn a neighbor’s death.

Jealousies surface when friends vie for the widower running for mayor. An old woman with an infamous uncle plots to avenge a wrong.

Memories haunt a once successful children’s writer. And a model has won the trip of a lifetime.

But a killer lurks and secrets unfold, as does a web of deceit. Is anyone really who he or she seems to be?

A mysterious South American, a young Italian count, and a charitable nephew add suspicion and intrigue, as do an enigmatic organization linked to organized crime, a handsome firefighter, and three widows with hidden agendas.

What’s a retired accountant’s secret, and why did a former showgirl really have plastic surgery?

The plot thickens, the Georgia temperature rises, and someone is destined for an early unmarked grave. The truth contorts to a climax that leaves readers breathless.

*****

984289_ehwhebupI read Duncan Whitehead’s The Reluctant Jesus and found his writing style to be extraordinarily entertaining and engaging. He has a way of injecting humor into a story that is well timed, creating a pleasant impact upon the enjoyment of the story.

This book is no exception. It is evident that a master storyteller is at work. I became engaged and absorbed with this story right from the very beginning. I did not put it down until I had completed reading it in one sitting, which is quite a feat.

Fortunately, I had a free weekend, because everything else I was supposed to do simply faded away because I was so engrossed with the book that I did not notice time slipping away as if it did not exist at all!

What did I like most about this book? That’s a difficult question because the prose, the characters, the setting… everything about this book was absolutely fascinating… If you are looking for an entertaining and enjoyable read, this book will deliver. It is “unputdownable! Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Thomas Jerome Baker
Author of How to Coach A Debate Team

TOP REVIEWS

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club opens on a lovely morning in Savannah, Georgia, with your friendly neighborhood contract killer preparing to execute his latest job. Rewind the clock by about a week. The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, a group of older women with a shared fondness for canines and cocktails, sigh about the impending death of one of their own. Thelma is on the verge of succumbing to cancer. Two of the ladies, former Vegas showgirl Carla and wholesome housewife Cindy, already have their eye on Thelma’s soon-to-be widower, mayoral candidate Elliott. We are also introduced to the club’s queen bee, an eighty-something-year-old named Heidi, and to several of their neighbors, including Kelly and Tom–a young couple with Hollywood good looks–and newlyweds Veronica and Doug. And then there’s the neighborhood villain: an old man who fails to clean up after his dog during his walks in the park.

Each member of this idyllic suburban neighborhood harbors a dirty little secret. Or, if they don’t at the beginning of the novel, they do by the end. The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club follows each member of the community through their intertwining lives. Picture perfect on the outside, not so much behind closed doors. One of them is the contract killer’s victim, and one of them the employer. But who? And why? With everything that’s going on in Gordonston, everyone is fair game.

Whitehead successfully employs the third person omniscient perspective in his novel to give the reader insights into each character’s thoughts and motivations, often within one scene. In an era where first person and limited third are in fashion, using the omniscient voice is a daring yet highly effective move. Although Whitehead writes with a distinctive lilt, the narrator for the most part seems invisible, a mere camera through which the reader watches the characters, none of whom is exactly what they appear. Whitehead wastes no words, somehow keeping the prose fluid and tight at the same time. As a result, the pages fly by while at the same time allowing a reader to become immersed in the language and descriptions. Honestly, this book contains some of the finest examples of the omniscient voice I’ve seen in contemporary literature.

Whitehead seamlessly integrates the various intertwining storylines. The cast is large, yet each character is so unique that it’s easy to keep track of who is who. Whitehead deftly guides the reader through the secrets, mysteries, and multiple plots, making The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club an easy, relaxing read. There is so much going on, and yet everything feels straightforward with the way Whitehead tells it.

In addition to his plotting abilities and knack for creating memorable characters, Whitehead also possesses a real talent for descriptions. It’s easy to picture the locations described in the novel, be it a town in Argentina or the luxuries of Paris. His writing style is mesmerizing, hypnotic even, and it’s easy to get lost in the locations and the lives of the characters. My one criticism would be that he doesn’t always let the reader know where in the timeline they are (for instance, there’s no indication that the first chapter, with the hit man, actually takes place after the bulk of the book until you get close to the end).

The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club is a garden of irony, a brilliant suburban satire on par with the popular American TV show Desperate Housewives. Part thriller, part drama, the multitude of questions hanging in the air make it a gripping page-turner, especially toward the second half, where the plot really thickens. It’s a relatively short book, and I ended up reading the whole thing in a single day. With all the juicy details and shocking revelations, I just couldn’t put it down.

Author Duncan Whitehead is, among other assorted hobbies and jobs, a standup comedian and it shows. Not that this book as a comedy (well, in many instances it is a droll comedy at that) – it is billed as a thriller and there are indeed enough acts of derring-do played out in this wild assortment of characters and enough instances of death and killings and even the opening chapter is an elegy for a gravedigger/to become killer to be slotted as such.

But the setting is a rather wonderfully silly shallow group of ladies who walk their dogs in the park in Savannah GA in and around a rich neighborhood called Gordonston. The story isn’t all that startling but it is entertaining and there are enough faux pas situations that nearly backfire the plot – until you realize that is precisely what the author is trying to do.

Others have commented on the plot, and enough is enough. What this novel pleads to be is a dark comedy on film. And hopefully the author is stepping out of his home in Savannah far enough to encounter a potential producer/director/screenwriter to make it happen. Read it, and you’ll be able to cast it easily enough. This is a dandy little escapist novel for an evening’s enjoyment. Grady Harp, February 13

Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 2013 Reader’s Favorite International Book Award and Gold Medalist

“A real page turner that is perfect for anyone who enjoys a story filled with secrets, mystery and devious characters. Even though I loved the ending I can only hope that Mr. Whitehead will continue this story with a sequel; after all there are three more jobs to be completed! On a scale of one to five I would give this book a six because it is just that good!” —Readers Favorite

“Doggone it, whodunnit? Readers of The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club will just have to read to the end of the novel to find out. The thriller was written by Duncan Whitehead, who seems to have more in common with Ian Fleming than his idol, Agatha Christie. —The Savannah Morning News

–This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Duncan WhiteheadThe life of Duncan Whitehead, winner of the 2013 Reader’s Favorite International Book Award and Gold Medalist, is as quirky as his works. Born in 1967, he served in the Royal Navy in embassies across South America and was an amateur boxer. He worked as a purser on some of the world’s largest super yachts and visited many exotic places. He’s also an instructor of English as a foreign language, fluent in Spanish, and a children’s soccer coach.

Duncan retired to Savannah, Georgia, to pursue his passion—writing. Mindful that we all harbor secrets and inspired by the locale’s odd characters, he wrote The Gordonston Ladies Walking Club, a dark comedic mystery.

In 2011, Duncan spent six months in Brazil before settling in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His interests include cooking, the Israeli self-defense art of Krav Maga, and Dim-Mak, a pressure-point martial art.

He has written over two thousand comedy news articles for US and UK websites, and The Reluctant Jesus, a comedic novel set in Manhattan.

 

More About the Author

Duncan Whitehead
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Biography

Award Winning Writer, Duncan Whitehead, was born in England and is the author of the best-selling and award-winning GORDONSTON LADIES DOG WALKING CLUB Trilogy. The series, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness in the real life Savannah neighborhood in which he once lived is a humorous mystery, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists.

He has also written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for a variety of websites both in the US and the UK.

He has written further novels; a comedy set in Manhattan, THE RELUCTANT JESUS, published in April 2014 and republished in July 2015 & three short stories.

Duncan is well known for his charity work, kindness to animals, children and old people; and, of course, his short-lived bullfighting career and his hideous hunchback.

In February 2045, he invented time travel and now spends much of his time in either the future (where he has won the lottery an astonishing 117 times) and the present day.

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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