Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Girl in the Empty Dress (Bennett Sisters #2), by Lise McClendon (author), Denice Stradling (narrator)

Lise McClendon, June 2015

The five Bennett sisters, New York lawyers all, are on vacation in France. Using Merle's house in the Dordogne region in southwest France as their base, they're doing walking tours to see the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, from the viewpoint of most of them, one of the sisters, Francie, has brought along a friend from the law firm where she works, Gillian Sargent. And Gillian annoys everyone, including, it seems, Francie.

Then Gillian finds an injured dog, a small, fluffy, sweet dog with no ID. Gillian is determined to rescue and care for this dog. When he meets her, so is Merle's teenage son, Tristan. It gets more disturbing when the veterinarian they take the dog to tells them that the injury is due to, not a bullet as he originally thought, but the rough, amateur removal of a microchip. This dog was apparently stolen, and then escaped.

What follows is the tale of, on the one hand, the thieves hunting the dog so that they can collect their pay from their employer, conflicts among the women, Merle reuniting with her lover, Pascal, from last summer while coping with the uninvited arrival of her American boyfriend, James Silvers III, Gillian taking off with the dog leaving a note saying she's "keeping her safe"....

Oh, and Gillian steals their rental car to make off with the dog. Someone kidnaps Francie, with a ransom demand for the dog, which the thieves assume Merle has...

It's crazy, and yet real and dangerous.

Initially, I found all the women hard to warm up to. As the story continued, with Merle as the main viewpoint character, I grew to like her and, slowly, her sisters. Of her two boyfriends, Pascal is the clear keeper, if Merle wants to make a permanent commitment. (She may not.)

It's interesting, engaging, not going to be a favorite of mine, but I bet it will be for some readers. There's nothing weak or sloppy about the writing; these characters were just hard for me to warm up to, and not because of McClendon's writing, just because of what she wrote.

Oh, very important note: The dog does not die.

I bought this audiobook.