AUTHOR: Duncan Whitehead
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 189 pages
Recommended for fans of dark satires and secret-filled dramas, such as the TV show Desperate Housewives
The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club is the story of a nice American neighborhood with lots of dirty little secrets. The combination of external perfection and dark, thriller elements was reminiscent of the TV show Desperate Housewives and other such satires about suburbia.
Although The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club is written in a fluid, slower-paced style that takes its time to lay out the backgrounds of its characters, I still ended up reading it in a day. The juicy details and questions hanging in the air make it an unexpected page-turner.
Third person omniscient. The narrator seamlessly rotates between the points of view of the characters, allowing the reader to know what’s going on in everyone’s heads.
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.
THE NITPICKY STUFF
This book is very well-edited, and I did not find any typos.
This book contains references to sex and violence but contains nothing graphic.
Duncan Whitehead was born in England in 1967. He has penned numerous spoof and comedy articles under various aliases. The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club is his first novel.
RELATED: An Interview with Duncan Whitehead
RELATED: An Interview with Duncan Whitehead