Sunday, July 5, 2009

Review: The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell

Aaron McCloud has been disappointed in love. Well, not exactly. But he thinks he should mourn the loss of a girl he never won anyway and he sets off to his aunt's house in Ireland, the place he spent his childhood summers, in order to best mope and sigh and grieve this quasi-love spurned. But before he can properly sink into the requisite melancholy, a farce breaks out with him and the pig who follows him to his aunt's house squarely at its center. Vowing to return the pig in the morning, he is greeted by the sight of total destruction, the pig having torn up his aunt's garden and shed. More troubling, the pig has uncovered a skeleton in the cabbages. Aunt Kitty knows who the murdered man is and she has a very convincing tale of who might be the murderer, naming Lolly, the woman to whom it is assumed the pig belongs. The plot thickens when Lolly disavows any knowledge of the pig and furthermore, points a convincing finger at Sweeney as murderer. When Sweeney is apprised of the conjecture, he, in turn, spins a tale that indicts Kitty. In the meantime, Declan Tovey's skeleton has been unearthed, brought into the house, and starts to cause all sorts of antics to ensue. And through none of this can Aaron muster up the oomph needed to properly suffer over the demise of a love affair that was only all in his head.

While a short novel, there is a hog-load of Irish blarney here. In the grand story-telling tradition, each character has the opportunity to make his or her case for what really happened to Declan Tovey while poor Aaron and the reader are only certain of one thing: that the pig unearthed the skeleton. Aaron, as an American, despite his familial ties to Kitty, doesn't understand the resolve of the three suspects to not involve the police nor can he quite figure out who among them has done in Declan. Regardless of his confusion, he is thoroughly involved by the time possessing the skeleton of a murdered man becomes a comedy of errors.

The monologues by the main characters are a bit long but when they lead to such hilarity as they do here, they are well worth the effort to read through. I think I spent as much time as Aaron did, completely baffled by the trio of other characters and I wondered how they were going to come to terms with each other and their unstated (or perhaps mentioned in a roundabout, sideways sort of way) desires. Watching Aaron try, unsuccessfully, to wallow in self-pity was highly entertaining. And the other characters were equally quirky and enchanting. Eccentric and offbeat, this comedy about love and life and a skeleton unearthed by a pig will probably have you scratching your head but ultimately wondering what the pig could possibly be up to in the second book.


  1. I remember starting and abandoning this a year or so ago...looks like it's time to dust it off and get it back in the queue. Your review is encouraging.

  2. This does look cute! Seems perfect for a summer read. I'll have to request it from the library.

  3. I'm looking forward to getting a copy of this. I already have the second in the series.!


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