Gary A. Braunbeck. Wildside Press, $27.95 (164pp) ISBN 978-1-59224-597-0
Drawing on her experience as a veterinarian, Claire spins a sweet confection about a couple torn apart by tragedy and brought together again by a big, adorable dog. The year after her friend Jenny died in a car crash, Joy left Wharton, Ky., unsure whether she would ever return. Now, 17 years later, she's back to help out during her father's illness and to open her own mobile vet clinic. Rather than live at home (""The moment I walked into my parents' olive green living room, eleven years of higher education and seven years as a practicing professional melted off my psyche like butter""), Joy moves into Jenny's old house. During a foggy morning drive to the hospital, Joy hits a dog belonging to Dr. Jeff Bradford, who was driving Jenny the night of her accident. Joy has never forgiven Jeff for driving drunk, but his dog's injury is an effective tool in bringing the two together. The contrived conflict created by the couple's miscommunication Jeff, it turns out, wasn't drunk at the time of the accident is easily resolved, but Joy's reoccurring nightmares about Jenny's death, ghostly visits from Jenny and a murderer plump the plot to near bursting. While lacking in originality, the book has an abundance of charm, and Joy's perky first-person narration carries readers nimbly along to a warm, gratifying conclusion. (Dec.) .
Reviewed on: 11/01/2003