Book Review: Mad Dog House by Mark Rubinstein
In a previous post on what makes a good review, I suggested that novels can have three purposes: purely enjoyment, shaking complacency, or both. This novel is in the third category. It produces a sharp emotional and intellectual jolt, and it’s also a compelling read.
The three main characters, Roddy, Danny, and Kenny, are superbly portrayed. The author takes us right into their diverse and tormented minds, as we observe their distinct lives and backgrounds. The respectable surgeon, with a traumatic childhood and the ambitious accountant, both with seemingly ideal lives, meet the devious gambler, who had been their childhood friend.
The disturbing climax arrives when they find themselves in extreme circumstances, which will push them to the limits of right and wrong, and the reader has no choice but to understand their dilemma and even sympathise with their actions. We are as challenged as Mad Dog to confront the forces of good and evil and decide how far we are prepared to go to defend and protect our families, and our lifestyle. A hard choice.
There is a balanced amount of well-written description, dialogue, interior monologue, and action, throughout. The dialogue is sharp and realistic, and the stream-of-consciousness narration of their thoughts allows us to peek inside their minds and care about their plight.
Not only can we feel for the characters, we can also ‘see’ what is happening to them, as the plot moves along with suspenseful twists and turns from the first page to the last. Some of the visual images portrayed are violent and disturbing, because we may not be as uneasy with the illicit deeds as law-abiding citizens should be. What would we have done?
The reader is also challenged with other controversial themes, such as the limits of friendship, the complexity of family relations, genetic determinism, the value of honesty, and the justification of deceit.
The narrative is original and the plot is creatively developed by an author who knows his facts and his craft.
I’m really pleased I decided to read this novel, once more outside my preferred genre (do I have a preferred genre any more?), and I’m really looking forward to reading part two: Mad Dog Justice, which is already on my Kindle.