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Reviewed by Leonard William Smuts for Readers' Favorite
Climate change and pollution have severely affected animal and bird species worldwide. Dead Fish examines this unfolding drama through the eyes of Lorraine Mulderon and her daughter Haley. Debbie Ann Ice introduces readers to this quirky widow, who is struggling to come to terms with her husband’s untimely death. As a distraction, she devotes her life to worthy causes, particularly saving the ecology, while the more conventional Haley simply tries to make sense of her mother. Lorraine’s escapades generally involve dead animals and birds, but when local fish start dying in numbers, it is a call to more radical action. She sets out with determination to discover the cause. In the process, she manages to upset officialdom and townsfolk alike. She has frequent brushes with the law, but arrests and intimidation have become routine for Lorraine. Her home has a resident flock of blue jays, who observe her eccentricities with amusement and confusion, giving avian advice as best they can. Having alienated her community, she is forced to sell her property and leave town amid veiled threats against her. Lorraine travels to New York for a mass protest which is attacked by a government drone. She drops off Haley’s radar for several months while she travels extensively as a radical activist, before returning to her former hometown when a new government is elected.
Debbie Ann Ice paints an intriguing picture of an eccentric, caring, well-meaning but rather a dysfunctional personality, who takes the advice of her therapist and acts before she thinks. Dead Fish goes deeper than highlighting pollution. It delves into social issues such as the rules which govern society, the uncaring attitude of officialdom to the destruction of nature, as well as the sinister influence of the powerful corporations and their lawyers. It overlaps into the psyche of the activist, with its idealism, placard-carrying use and abuse of social media, meetings, and campaigns. The book is set in the near future against the fictional backdrop of an entrenched and controlling authority, where personal freedom of expression is discouraged. The similarity to emerging trends is obvious. There are many amusing touches to this tongue-in-cheek story. These include the fact that Lorraine’s property is split in two by a gas pipeline that passes through the middle of her home - the result of a legal battle with the gas company and adding to the quirkiness of the tale. The blue jays who send memos are another unconventional aside. This is an absorbing story of the state of society and its ecological issues, filled with irony and humor.