Heroic Measures

by Jill Ciment

Arlene Almas: This is a novel about an elderly couple, Ruth and Alex, and their (also) elderly, ailing, much beloved dachshund Dorothy, also known as Dottie. Ruth and Alex are finally ready to sell their fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan, which should fetch them quite a bundle, sufficient to buy a smaller place in an elevator building and leave something over to help towards living expenses.

While Ruth and Alex deal with their real estate broker, a gasoline tanker truck becomes stuck in the Midtown Tunnel and the driver runs away, leading everyone in New York and the surrounding area to believe that a terrorist attack is taking place and a huge explosion may be imminent. Nevertheless, Ruth and Alex manage to get Dottie to her animal hospital to undergo tests and possible surgery. While staying in constant contact with Dottie's doctors, Ruth, Alex, and their broker hold several open houses for the sale of their apartment and keep an eye out for a place to buy - during all of this, the broker, potential buyers, and even Ruth and Alex try to figure out which would provide the better financial outcome: if the truck (still stuck in the tunnel) is part of a terrorist plot, or if it's just a mishap. The book may not be large (193 small pages), but it's packed with emotion and humor, and its three main characters, Ruth, Alex, and Dottie, are quite lovable.
Rating: ****

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