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on May 21, 2013 :
Once in a great while, a reviewer as voluble as I will actually be solicited for a review by another independent writer. Not that anything I might say would promote someone's production into the Big Time, but, well, you never know. My regular readers are a worthy audience in their own right, and they have a few friends to whom their recommendations just might be well received.
Mark Butterworth approached me not long ago about reviewing A Man With Three Great German Shepherds...and 1000 Troy Ounces Of Gold. At the time I said something noncommittal and proceeded to allow it to slip my mind, but Mark took the initiative and reminded me. So, in the spirit of wanting to do what I can for my fellow indie writers -- hey, if you don't go to their funerals, they won't come to yours -- I purchased his book. It struck me as the perfect excuse to put off mowing the lawn for the half-hour I imagined it would take me to conclude that here was yet another of the aspirants to literary glory whose time would be better spent inventorying lamb chop panties. I've read perhaps eighty independently produced and marketed novels; few justified the expenditure of time and money.
With regard to Mark's book, my pessimism proved to be without foundation.
Mark Butterworth is a natural storyteller, a raconteur whose style is at once artless and utterly riveting. Imagine him as a chance acquaintance at your local tavern. Presently he's telling you, in an unadorned, colloquial style, about the signal events of his existence...and in sharp contrast to the ramblings of the other half-pickled regulars you've striven to avoid, you find yourself hypnotized. You don't want him to stop.
This is a simple story, about a simple man with little in this world and a backtrail of sorrow. He's managed to accumulate a little something from his years of labor -- 1000 Troy ounces of gold -- but his most precious possessions, if that word is appropriate, are his three female German Shepherds, whom he's trained to a T and who regard him as the center of the universe.
Unfortunately, there exists a sizable cadre of folks whose mission in life is to complicate the lives of simple men. Collectively, they're called "the government." One of its more vulpine subsections, the Internal Revenue Service, dislikes to allow simple men to retain any significant part of their earnings. So contrary to his desires, protagonist Dan Martin finds himself pursued by IRS agents who hope to bring down his quondam employer: construction magnate Bill Murphy: a born rebel ever ready to "spend 95 cents to avoid giving the government a dollar."
Yet as important and threatening as it is, most of the book has little to do with that source of tension. Mostly, it's about Dan's love for his dogs, his half-successful efforts to reconnect with his estranged children, and the fame he and his dogs gain unsought after they thwart a lethal attack on his parish priest.
Buy this book. It's replete with satisfactions, a whole human carnival's worth. It offers love, laughter, and tears in copious quantities. Read it, love it, and press it on your friends and loved ones. It deserves to be read far and wide.
Highly, highly recommended!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)