■ REVIEW: Dog Gone, Back Soon
Return to the manor a treat

I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I missed the buzz over author Nick Trout’s earlier novels.

The biggest buzz of all has been about 2013’s The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs. I eventually managed to catch up on that particular wee gem while I was on holiday in Aussie last year, and fell in love with what turned out to be a charming little novel about a bloke who inherits his father’s vet practice.

Dr Cyrus Mills is our intrepid hero, and the dire circumstances of a life that isn’t going quite as well as he had hoped mean he reluctantly returns home to rural Vermont, and the Bedside Manor for Sick Animals.

Making the move from reclusive pathologist to family vet pulls Cyrus out of his comfort zone and offers up some life lessons that change him forever, and for the better.

The best thing about being so late to the party when it came to reading The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs is that I didn’t have to wait long for the next instalment. And it’s every bit as delightful as the first.

With a perfect mix of gentle humour and realistic hilarity, we are treated to another action-packed week in the life of Cyrus in Eden Fall, Vermont, as he tries to stop an evil veterinary conglomerate. There’s also a splash of attempted romance, the quest for a home for an orphaned dog and a weird case of mistaken identity.

It’s difficult not to draw parallels between these novels and those of James Herriot, the British vet who authored the semi-autobiographical All Creatures Great and Small series: both authors have a veterinary background, both write with a warmth that is endearing and both have produced books that are heart-warming without being soppy. However, Nick Trout’s stories are fully fictional so the characters are a little larger than life, the storylines a little more outrageous, and the outcomes a little more hilarious.

Any book that contains both cutsie animals and humour can’t fail to be a winner.

Dog Gone, Back Soon, by Nick Trout (Allen & Unwin, RRP $37)

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