Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE DOGS OF BABEL by Carolyn Parkhurst



The only witness to the death of Paul Iverson's wife, Lexy, is their dog, Lorelei.  Did Lexy fall from the tall apple tree or did she jump?  Her death is ruled an accident, but, if she fell, why was she up there in the first place?  Plus, just before her death, Lexy reorganized the books in their library and fed Lorelei a steak; both acts were previously unheard of.  Paul wants answers and hopes that Lorelei can somehow provide them.  He investigates the possibility of canine speech and becomes the laughingstock of his colleagues at the university where he teaches.  Meanwhile, his flashbacks to his week-long first date with Lexy and her occasional outbursts of anger provide us with a portrait of an imaginative but troubled young woman. I kept asking myself why neither Paul nor Lexy ever mentioned psychotherapy, but I guess he was in denial, and she was too embarrassed.  Also, how could Lexy possibly earn a living making papier-mach√© masks?  Oh, well.  Let's not fret the details.  At least Paul's obsession with dog training abates a bit when he finds that Lexy consulted a TV fortune teller just before her death.  This discovery gives him a different mission:  to find out the details of that conversation.  Or perhaps he can unlock the mystery by reading Lexy's dream journal, or by figuring out what the new book arrangement means.  The various clues fuel Paul's quest, but I was never quite sure if grief drove his pursuit of the truth or if he just wanted closure.  I certainly wanted closure myself, and the author provided it in a very satisfying ending.

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