Diving Into A Sea of Books–Please Don’t Feed the Mayor

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Looking for a humorous read, I chose Please Don’t Feed the Mayor by Sue Pethick. With a title like that, I thought the novel would be funny. There was some humor in it, mostly from the animals, but not as much as I was looking for.

With the small town of Fossett, Oregon, in economic decline, business owner Melanie MacDonald decides to take action to reverse the trend. Her plan is to have her border collie, Shep, become mayor. She believes that will increase tourism and boost the town’s sagging fortunes. She enlists the reluctant aid of her ex-husband, Bryce, a lawyer in Portland, in the effort to elect Shep.

Bryce’s career as a defense attorney is taking off. But when a killer Bryce helped put behind bars in his previous position in the district attorney’s office escapes from prison, Bryce goes to Fossett for a few days to lay low. He guides Melanie in the campaign to elect Shep, and at the same time deals with his unresolved feelings for her.

Bryce and Melanie clash not only in handling the campaign, but also in Melanie’s ties to the town. Melanie graduated from college; Bryce believes she needs to leave the town for a place with more opportunities to use her education. Melanie loves the proximity to nature and the way people in Fossett help one another out, but sometimes wonders if it’s best for her to stay there.

Shep wins the election, but when the escaped killer Jesse Colton comes to Fossett in search of Bryce, events take a much more harrowing turn. Towards the end of the story, some unlikely heroes—people and animals—emerge.

Embedded in the narrative are different interesting tidbits about border collies (they are bred to herd, and the wise owner makes allowances for that), and the time and work involved in a political campaign. Some serious issues surface through the characters of the book: PTSD, poverty, and the rippling economic impact on a place when the major industry moves out. The author does a good job of showing these issues without being preachy; they are threaded throughout the novel. The author shows the unique character of a small town—where everyone knows everybody else’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, but when help is needed, the residents help each other out as best they can. 

The characters of Melanie and Bryce become more “real” as the novel continues. You can see them learning to appreciate each other’s viewpoints. For the most part the characters act in believable ways as the plot moves along. Jesse Colton, the killer, is in the background for much of the story, but still injects a continual feeling of menace in the narrative from the time Bryce learns Jesse has escaped.

I have to admit I wasn’t really hooked on the story until Bryce’s life was threatened. Before then, I was “Meh”. After that point in the plot, though, I knew I was in for the finish.

What didn’t I like?

The novel started slowly, and didn’t really pick up until the second or third chapter. 

For me there was some objectionable language: an instance in which the Lord’s name is taken in vain, some instances of “h–l” and “d–n” and one instance of “g———-ed”. It’s not as though I haven’t heard that language before; growing up, I heard it a lot. Just because I heard it, doesn’t mean I want to read it. In writing, there are ways to get the message across without spelling it out.

What did I like?

There are no graphic sexual scenes.

The author’s skill in weaving different information and issues naturally into the story, using dialogue and description.

When there is humor, it’s LOL funny.

Would I read Please Don’t Feed the Mayor again? I don’t know. I have a lot of other books to read.

©P. Booher

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