Maddy's Reviews > Rain Dogs

Rain Dogs by Sean Doolittle
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Sep 26, 2009

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bookshelves: 2005-reads
Read in December, 2005

RATING: 3.25
SETTING: Nebraska (US)
SERIES: Standalone

It’s not much of an inheritance—a campground, some canoes, an old pickup truck—but maybe it’s just what Tom Coleman needs. He’s been wallowing in the dregs of his miserable life for some time now, having turned to the bottle after the failure of his marriage and the death of his daughter. Formerly a Chicago reporter, he’s returned to his hometown of Valentine, Nebraska, a place where his father was once involved in law enforcement and his first love, Abby, still lives.

Tom keeps the campground running with the help of a down-on-his-luck pot-smoking loser by the name of Duane and Abby’s headstrong stepson, Scott. When Scott and two of his friends are involved in a meth lab blowing up that takes one of their lives, the local law and federal Drug Enforcement Agency step in. It appears that a sleazy drug lord by the name of Harlan Pack may be running his operation through the area, possibly using Duane, Scott and some of the other locals to move the goods.

Tom is pretty much a loser who disappears into the bottle on a regular basis. The campground is largely run by Duane and Scott. Tom comes to admire Scott who, although difficult, is a very hard worker. When they have a run-in, Scott disappears. Tom and Abby finally bring him back home, but Valentine has turned into a heartless place and there’s a lot going on about the area drug activity.

In a book like this, the reader harbors the hope that the protagonist will turn his life around and become ennobled and save the day. IN RAIN DOGS, this doesn’t happen, which may be realistic but is somewhat disappointing. I never really got a handle on Tom and what made him tick. A lot of the details aren’t really explained, most especially Tom’s earlier relationship with Abby. And Abby is very passive. When Tom is completely drunk, she doesn’t even comment on his condition and treats him like he is sensible.

RAIN DOGS is more of a character study than a true mystery. Unfortunately, the characters weren’t very fully developed and never really came to life for me.
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