Rating: 5 stars
With “The Dog Who Saved Me,” Susan Wilson has created another touching, thoughtful and emotion-filled story about a man and a dog — both scarred physically and emotionally.
The story is about Cooper Harrison, who was a member of the Boston police department’s K-9 unit until his dog was killed, and he was injured, while on duty. The loss of his dog tore apart Cooper’s heart and soul. For reasons that become clear in the story, that loss left him unable to function. He resigned from the force and accepted a position back in his home town as animal warden.
Wilson includes other stories as well. Of course, there is the story of the dog, a sweet and eager puppy who is abused and almost killed, but who manages to escape. Living in the wild with injuries does not lead to a happy ending, and the injuries inflicted on the puppy are not just physical. He is terrified of people.
Cooper finds evidence of the dog’s existence and decides to try to help it. But he is also trying to come to terms with living in the same small town as his father and brother. Cooper led a deprived childhood for three reasons: his father was an alcoholic and never able to keep a job; his mother died when Cooper and his brother were fairly young; and his brother Jimmy was (and is) a sociopath — someone with no compassion and no moral compass.
The story is told from several viewpoint and it’s a bit confusing until the reader gets into the flow of words. Cooper tells his story in first person narrative, but the stories about his childhood and past are told in third person narrative which is set in italics. There is also a third person narrative from the dog’s point of view, and another third person narrative from Bull, Cooper’s father’s point of view.
This novel reminded this reader of Wilson’s first novel “One Good Dog.” The story is emotional and raw at times. The extra characters well written and a bit quirky. The dialogue is true and the story, including the side stories about Bull and Jimmy, are interesting and keep the pages turning.
And of course, there’s the dog. That dog alone would tear at the heartstrings of any reader who has ever loved a dog. The poor abused, frightened and lonely dog. The ending was a bit unexpected, but worked well. Get out the tissue.
Susan Wilson has also written “The Dog Who Danced” and “A Man of His Own.”
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by St. Martin’s Press for review purposes.