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Night of the Howling Dogs    by Graham Salisbury order for
Night of the Howling Dogs
by Graham Salisbury
Order:  USA  Can
Laurel Leaf, 2009 (2007)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Graham Salisbury's stories never disappoint. Night of the Howling Dogs (narrated by Dylan), came from a true-life experience in Hawaii. The author writes in an introductory letter: 'Just before dawn on November 29, 1975, my then thirteen-year old cousin, Tim Twigg-Smith, was jarred awake by a massive earthquake. He was camping with his small Boy Scout troop at a remote beach ... The epicenter was just offshore. In the tsunami that followed, he was dragged over the rocky landscape and swallowed when the beach sank below sea level ... Tim survived'.

Dylan, whose dad is a freighter skipper and away from home most of the time, rides his bike at 3:20 a.m. to the home of Casey Bellows. He describes Casey as 'my shaggy-haired best friend, a redhead with freckles and a raspy voice. He wasn't big, but he was strong. He played eighth-grade football with the hunt-and-kill mind of a Cro-Magnon'. Mr. Bellows, a former U.S. Marine ('once a Marine, always a Marine'), is a detective with the Hilo Police Department.

Mr. Bellows is the Scoutmaster of a troop of eight, helped by Assistant Scoutmaster Reverend Paia. The troop heads for a campsite located at the most remote spot on the island, 'high up on the flank of Mauna Loa, the long sloping mountain volcano ... Hilina Pali'. Upon arrival at the place they will start their trek to the site, Duncan's eye catches 'a movement in the distance. He blocked the sun with his hand and squinted. Something was slinking through the weeds and scrub grass along the ridge ... two thin and scraggy dogs'.

Settling down for the first night after the Reverend's campfire story about night marchers, Dylan sees 'silhouettes of the two dogs on the crest of the cliff'. How do they survive in this terrain of rocks and weeds, and are they following us, Dylan wonders? The scouts are told that the white dog is believed to be Pele, a goddess anakua who appears in many forms. When the white dog appears, it is an omen of a volcano eruption.

Salisbury inserts humor, while racking-up the tension and trepidation in this triple-punch story, as two boys travel rough terrain to find help when 'the night of tremors in the earth arrived, then the world fell apart'. Graham Salisbury is the award-winning author of choice novels, including Blue Skin of the Sea, Under the Blood-Red Sun, Eyes of the Emperor, and House of the Red Fish.

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