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Home » Books & writing

Gunpoint Review: ALBERT OF ADELAIDE by Howard L. Anderson

Submitted by on August 29, 2012 – 2:16 am 25 Comments

My friend Lauren and I discuss books on a regular basis, and she always has incisive and insightful comments about why she likes or doesn’t like something. I’d asked her to be a guest reviewer several times but she kept demurring, saying she doesn’t consider herself a reviewer.

Well, last week, I found out she was reading a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while but just haven’t had time. I decided she had to write up something for me about it, so I sent her a form and made her fill it out. And the first Gunpoint Review was born, named because I forced Lauren to do it. You’ll see that she went above and beyond the form (hello, I asked for only 5 sentences) and is a natural at it. Leave her comments so maybe I can go easy on the threats next time I make her do one.—PCN

********

by Lauren O’Brien

Title:     Albert of Adelaide
Author:  Howard L. Anderson
Length:  223 pages
Genre:   Hmm. Marsupial crime fiction? With a hint of fantasy. And Western. The Wind in the Willows meets Unforgiven. It defies classification.

Synopsis: Albert the platypus has called the Adelaide Zoo home for most of his life. He dreams of escape from the daily monotony and the constant intrusive staring of strangers. But Albert dreams of a particular escape: from the zoo and to “Old Australia,” a “rumored land of liberty, promise, and peace,” where things haven’t changed and life remains as it was when Australia belonged to the animals and men who used to inhabit the bush.

Your thoughts in 5 sentences or fewer: Drunk bandicoots. What more do you really need to know? I picked this book up on a lark as it appealed to my Australian side. I’m so thankful I did, partially because other books I’ve read about Australian wildlife have rarely included its propensity for clothing and conversation, much less bar fights or gun play, but mostly because what might appear to be a simple story about Albert’s hopeful journey to nirvana turns into much more. And sometimes those turns are dark.

It’s reminiscent of an old Western joined with a buddy movie, complete with dirty saloons, corrupt lawmen (law wallabies? lawallabies?), betrayal, prejudice, and revenge, along with friendship and honor. I laughed and teared up. Ultimately, this is not a story of Albert’s search for Eden, but what he finds and finds out along the way, about himself and others.

One important note: Don’t let the idea of anthropomorphism put you off. Yes, the characters are animals, but that could not have been further from my mind while reading. So much so that when a character showed up at one point holding the “paws of two young wallabies,” my first reaction was, “Who would cut the paws off baby wallabies?” Then it became clear the character was simply holding the hands of his children. Oops.

Verdict: Read it!

Buy it now from Amazon | Buy from an indie bookstore

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25 Comments »

  • Sarah RH says:

    Nice job! Humorous, interesting & more importantly, now I want to read it. You had me at “drunken bandicoots” (what exactly is a bandicoot??? I used to play Crash Bandicoot, but I have a feeling he’s not the same?). Sounds interesting, touching, & entertaining. And I learned a new word – anthropomorphism. =)

  • Erin says:

    A natural, indeed. Anyone who can use the word “anthropomorphism” in a review simply has to write more of them. Sorry, Lauren…we didn’t make the rules; we’re just here to enforce them. Seriously, though, I would never have sought this one out. Now I’ve ordered it. So there.

  • Jann says:

    Erin beat me to it…A natural, indeed. Definately piqued my interest.

  • Christine McCann says:

    Should you balk at doing another review, you have to know that Sheriff PCN will have a posse next time. No more hiding your light under a bushel. As the others said, a natural indeed! Well done! (Or, according to Google, Onya! in Aussie slang) Putting this book on my wish list!

    Question: suitable for 14 yo boy? Assumed, yes, but thought I should check.

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you. But be careful what you ask for or you may be forced to be my review sherpa.

      And yes! Goodonya! Use it often, well played.

      Hmm, 14. Well, there is no sex and I can’t say as I even remember any foul language. So it would really only be the violence, and I’m not sure that’s at a level that would bother a 14-year-old. So I would say it’s ok, but you know how *I* turned out.

  • Rhonda Hicks says:

    I always love to hear what you have to say about pretty much anything, but especially books. You didn’t disappoint here. I agree with Kat that this should be a weekly thing! This one has now been added to my ever growing TBR list, and I’m sure I will love it.

  • Jen Forbus says:

    I would be totally offended since she constantly refused to do any reviewing for ME…but it’s too much of a fun review to be mad! 😉

    • Lauren says:

      Oy. I don’t recall turning you down, but if you asked I’m sure I did. But you must know that Elyse is a much better whiner than you are. Plus, she gave me a total cheat sheet that even an impaired mind like mine could use. And I was blessed with a great book to start with. I should stop while I’m ahead. xo

      • Pop Culture Nerd says:

        You think you won’t be doing any more reviews for me? Hahahahaha! That’s a good one.

        And for clarification, Jen, it’s not that I whine more loudly, just more often and in a high-pitched tone only platypuses can hear.

  • Definitely not a book I would have picked up–or even found. Will now. Great review.. and if you want to expand your reviewing options, there’s always Mystery Readers Journal…and Mystery Fanfare!

    • Lauren says:

      Me, either! Now I don’t even remember where I first saw it. Thanks for the comment and offer, Janet. I’m still on wobbly legs, we’ll see what the future brings. But much appreciated!

  • I’m glad PCN forced you into this review, Lauren. Not only do you ace reviews, but it’s a book I knew nothing of and being Australian, I simply must read it. When I googled around just now and discovered the author isn’t Australian, it really has me curious. I don’t have bandicoots in my yard, but sometimes the possums sound drunk!

    • Lauren says:

      I also read that about Mr. Anderson, he seems like a very interesting character. Thank you for the very kind comments. I didn’t know you were Australian! Now I know why I enjoy your cards so much when they show up in the mail from Elyse. 🙂 My father was born in Mosman. My Australian roots may be my favorites.

      I hope you do read the book and, if so, you’ll come back and share your thoughts.

      • It’s a small world, Lauren {yet I never seem to run into people I know when I’m out!} I’m glad we both have Australia in our DNA ~ even though my illustrations don’t often give it away.

        I’ve put a hold on Albert of Adelaide at the library and I’m second in line. Looking forward to reading his adventures. Thanks again, Lauren!

        • Lauren says:

          I’m so pleased you found it! Do come back and let us know what you thought, good, bad or different. I love getting different takes on something I’ve read.

          • Lauren, as a ‘good yarn’, I enjoyed it! I had to completely suspend reality, of course, and I hope people don’t think if you simply took away the clothing, speaking and booze, it was in any way an accurate portrayal of our native wildlife… {I’m glad Howard L. Anderson includes a disclaimer} ~ but as an entertaining story of mateship, I chuckled and cried. Thanks again!

            • Lauren says:

              Glad you enjoyed it, at least as a “yarn.” 🙂 I actually thought the use of wildlife added to the story. It made our prejudices based on appearance appear all the more silly and inane. By taking our own human attributes out of it, I thought it did a good job of showing how we judge folks based on “what” they are before we even delve below the surface. And while wallabies got a bit of a bad rap, I hope no one takes that to heart. 🙂

              Thanks for reading it and coming back to comment!

  • This sounds like the kind of (wonderful) story Howard Waldrop writes. Drunk bandicoots, indeed!

    • Lauren says:

      Naomi – I had not heard of Howard Waldrop, but just looked him up. Sounds fascinating. And he writes about Dodos! I put “Howard Who?” in my shopping cart. Do you recommend anything in particular?

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