You Can't Iron a Wrinkled Birthday Suit by Sharon Phennah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, is it allowable to make our reading choices based upon titles? Because that's what prompted me to request this book written by Sharon Phennah from NetGalley.com, and why I was so pleased to be approved to read it in exchange for my honest review. Creative titles usually get my attention, and for the most part, it works for me. But in this case, it was like striking gold! In spite of the fact that I do not usually read books with or about animals (way too contrived for my taste), in this book, the dogs were a very entertaining part of the story as well as a useful device for getting more information to the reader than the humans were collecting. By the time I finished the book, I was halfway convinced that there is a network of communicating dogs out there who may quite possibly be smarter and funnier than their owners.
The humans, however, do dominate the story, and what a spunky, unique group of women they are. They not only support each other, they unconditionally like each other enough to get involved in situations that could be against each one's better judgment. For example, the beginning of the book concerns a caper wherein three of the women - Grace, Hazel, and Gus (Augusta) - have agreed to support the local Historical Preservation Authority by climbing to the roof of the McClellan building thereby preventing it from being demolished before the group can get a court ruling stopping demolition completely. The McClellan building was formerly the local 5&10 Cent store, and many of the town's citizens believe it should be restored as a historical site. Those who disagree with this position are the ones who stand to make money on the land deal when the building is gone, and that includes what Lewis & Son Devoted Demolition Crew will earn for completing the job in one day. All the Historical Preservation Authority want is to get a court ruling on their petition to save the building. The decision is expected by noon, which will be too late for the building since Lewis & Son shows up at the crack of dawn. So Grace and Hazel are the first two to climb the ladder to the roof. Gus, who is supposed to be keeping the ladder steady, is also throwing up in a Forsythia Bush.
First the fire department is called to remove the women from the premises, but they refuse to come to the site because they say if there's an alarm given for a fire during that time, no one would be available to cover it. Next the police are brought in, but the women have arranged the situation in such a way that it's nearly impossible to get them off the premises. The cliff hanger is whether the women can hold up long enough for the court decision to be useful to the cause -- if in fact, the ruling is found in favor of the historical group.
No one could have foreseen the repercussions this would have on the members of the little group of friends, particularly upon Hazel's significant other, Bruce Winston. What happens to him could very well ruin the rest of his life and intrude drastically on the future he and Hazel have envisioned for themselves.
Hazel, Grace, Gus, and Marigold form the base of this group of friends, but each one has her own place in the novel along with her dog. A fifth hanger-on of the group is Irene, friend to Gus, who occasionally is called upon to help when Gus needs to include her. Not everyone takes to Irene mainly because she runs a shop called Such Happenis Adult Toys. Together these women share adventures as well as personal tragedy. While the McClellan caper was called "Operation Wonder Woman", the group are all women who deal with life's challenges knowing someone will always have their backs should they need it. In other words, they are average women with all the problems that go with aging. Phennah explores Alzheimer's, illnesses, and other issues that have an affect on us all.
And then there is that group of dogs. Their visits to Shear Charisma Grooming Shop are often funny, occasionally sad, and always entertaining. My favorite dog was Butterbean Gus' dog, and also the one who keeps most of the gossip straight. Butterbean is a Corgi, and if I ever were to own a dog (highly unlikely) Butterbean would be the one I'd want.
I highly recommend YCIAWBS to mystery lovers, and also those who're looking for a good book with humor but also a lot of heart. That's what I look for in reading material, and this book has 5 Stars going for it. My thanks to Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this book.
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