This newest novel from Theresa Schewegel is at its heart a tale about a boy and his dog, either (or both) of which could be the eponymous Good Boy. The boy is 11-year-old Joel Murphy; the dog is his father Pete’s K-9 partner, Butchie (more formally Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry Butch O’Hare, and from time to time variations of any part of that “full title”), a hundred-pound shepherd mix. I opened this book expecting something along the lines of the author’s earlier books, specifically a crime thriller/police procedural, and must admit that at first I was disappointed to find that this book is not that at all (although Joel’s father is a cop, and there is no shortage of suspense to be found here). And the early portions of the book, told from Joel’s p.o.v., were a bit difficult to follow and somewhat off-putting. I hasten to add at this point that in the end, the novel is thoroughly satisfying.
Joel is a very bright young boy with an incredible memory, also a boy who “sees things differently – – a high-spirited version of the overlooked and ordinary.” One night he takes it upon himself to protect his teenage sister, McKenna (“Mike”), as she heads out for a party in a dangerous part of town, at the home of someone equally dangerous, where known gang-bangers and criminals are likely to be present. And that is exactly what transpires; a gun is discharged and someone is shot soon after he shows up, with Butchie, his best friend in the world, at his side. It’s a toss-up as to who is protecting whom. The remainder of the book follows the path each member of the Murphy family takes in the aftermath of this event, the all-important message being that “home is being together, no matter where they are,” and whatever it takes to accomplish that. Initial reservations aside, the novel is very enjoyable, and recommended.