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Book Review of: Scent of the Missing
Love & Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog
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Scent of the Missing, by Susannah Charleson (Hardcover, 2010)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
I've got mixed feelings about this book. It started off well enough, with the picture of that gorgeous blonde on the cover (Puzzle is a good-looking Golden Retriever). And the subject matter is noble. The author isn't an investigative journalist writing about someone else's experiences as the human half of a Search and Rescue (SAR) dog team. She is that half. But there are drawbacks that kept me from giving the book a five-star rating.
Some of the pluses:
This book consists of 25 chapters and an epilogue, occupying 288 pages. The book covers the first two years of this amazing partnership.
Ms. Charleson has many talents and excels in many areas. She completed that rigorous SAR training, and, for example, she's a flight instructor who teaches advanced courses. But we can't all be great at everything. She's not a great writer. She is, however, a passable writer with something important to talk about. To me, that beats a great writer with nothing in particular to say.
I've read many dog-related books in my time. This was the first one I've seen on SAR, and it's told from a personal, almost intimate point of view. If you're looking for a flawlessly written work of non-fiction, this isn't it. But if you'd like an insider's view of those brave people and dogs who give so generously to help find missing adults and children, this is it. If you've seen SAR teams and wondered who these people and dogs are, or what it takes to do what they do, this book is for you.
My time spent reading this book was well spent. I think yours will be, too.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.