cover image Shoot the Dog

Shoot the Dog

Brad Smith. Scribner, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4391-9756-1

The arrival of a highly dysfunctional Hollywood film crew spells trouble in Smith’s stellar third novel featuring laconic upstate New York farmer Virgil Cain (after 2012’s Crow’s Landing). The crew plan to shoot a major motion picture, Frontier Woman, based on a bestseller hailed as “the Eat, Pray, Love of the nineteenth century.” All involved, from producers Sam Sawchuck and Levi Brown to director Robb Fetterman, have hidden agendas, except movie actress Olivia Burns, who plays the lead, and the child in the role of her daughter. When Brown and Fetterman want to hire Virgil’s team of Percherons, Bob and Nelly, for the picture, Virgil is happy to oblige. The film’s precarious financing opens the door for another player, casino bigwig Ronnie Red Hawk. The suspicious death of one of the principals brings in Virgil’s lover, homicide cop Claire Marchand. Wonderfully wrought characters, delicious wit, and droll storytelling make this a delightful romp. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (July)