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TARGETS OF AFFECTION by R.G. Willems


By Theresa de Valence - Posted on 15 April 2007

If you’ve ever loved a dog, you will love TARGETS OF AFFECTION.

Mind you, two paragraphs into the story, I thought I’d throw up. The protagonist works at a veterinary clinic, so there is blood galore—a bit heady if you’re not used to it—but tolerable.

Shelby James, the veterinary technician, is eminently likeable. With the exception of her in-laws (who are a bit too predictable), the characters are complex and interesting. And when everyone behaves in character, it can be downright endearing—even the unfriendly staff vet!

Fully one third of the significant characters in the story are pets. Which is fun. My only complaint is that, in the beginning, I thought I had to remember all of the patients (animals) as characters in the story. It didn’t take long before there were dozens of animals! Why I thought this is a mystery, perhaps an affliction of being a pet owner?

TARGETS OF AFFECTION is a plausible mystery, the kind of adventure which might happen to an ordinary person. One quarter of the way through the book, there was no sense of menace. If you’ve ever asked yourself “How would I ever get involved in a mystery?” you will like the pacing of this story. The threads of the mystery began immediately, but I was not fully involved with the mystery until past page 100.

Contrary to many mystery/suspense stories, the plot of TARGETS OF AFFECTION is straightforward; the reader is not deceived with red herrings. There is a nice sense of self-doubt in Shelby’s deductions about mysterious events in the veterinary clinic; in a normal world, we would not believe it either.

There is momentum, we worry about the players, and the conclusion is satisfying. And if you’ve ever loved a dog, you will love TARGETS OF AFFECTION.