Carolyn Parkhurst's debut novel, The Dogs of Babel has been sitting on my bookshelf for years and i finally decided to give it a shot and devoured it in less than twenty-four hours. it's a quick read, that's impossible to put down.
Many years ago, i read Parkhurst's second novel, Lost and Found, about contestants on a reality television show and really enjoyed it. It was a fun read and a theme that interested me. Her debut novel is more of a mystery, a theme that i don't often find appealing, which is why i think that i let it languish on the shelf for so many years.
However, this is not so much a straightforward mystery, but told from the perspective of a grieving husband trying to figure out the details of his young wife's untimely death. Her death is never a question of foul play. Lexy, Paul's seemingly bipolar young wife, has died from falling from the top of a tree in their backyard. in the aftermath, Paul sorts through clues to determine if Lexy accidentally slipped or committed suicide.
in his grief, Paul begins to fixate on Lorelei, the family dog and only witness to Lexy's death. Paul is a linguistics professor and begins to get obsessed with the idea of teaching Lorelei to communicate, specifically to speak. It sounds crazy and may be, but grief can lead to some insane ideas.
Warning, this novel has a very disturbing, creepy twist. It actually made me feel sick to my stomach to read.
The book has many beautifully written flashbacks, detailing Lexy and Paul relationship. i loved the theme of masks, woven in throughout. The story has many tender moments, but Lexy and Paul feel like a real couple, a couple that has many flaws. it's this rooting in reality, that balances Paul's outlandish behavior as a husband in grief and unreliable narrator. It also makes the reader relate and like both main characters, rooting for them to ultimately have a positive outcome, despite the tragedy of Lexy's death.
A very well-crafted debut novel from Parkhurst. i am excited to read her future novels.