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Night Dogs [Mass Market Paperback]

Kent Anderson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 6 1999
Former police officer Kent Anderson, author of the memorable Vietnam War novel Sympathy for the Devil, returns with a powerful new novel about a Vietnam-vet cop who still carries the war inside himself. Searing and brutally honest, Night Dogs plunges us into the free-fire zones of our cities, where the legendary thin blue line is breaking down.

The North Precinct of Portland, Oregon, is home to two kinds of cops: sergeants and lieutenants who've screwed up somewhere else, and patrolmen who thrive on the action on the Avenue. Officer Hanson is the second kind, a veteran who has traded his Bronze Star for a badge. War is what Hanson knows, and in this battle for Portland's meanest streets, he's fighting not so much for the law as for his own code of justice.

Hanson is a man who seems to fear nothing--except his own memories.  And it is his past that could destroy him now:  An enemy in the department is determined to bring him down by digging into his war record and resurrecting the darkest agonies of that nightmare time.  And Hanson himself risks everything--his career, his equilibrium, even his life--when the only other survivor of his Special Forces unit comes back into his life. Doc Dawson is a drug dealer and a killer...but he's the one man Hanson can trust.

Night Dogs is an extraordinary work from a powerful and authentic voice in American fiction. Recoiling from the violence that Hanson deals with every day, the violence that is in Hanson, readers will also understand the compassion that drives him.  A novel remarkable for its razor-sharp characterizations and dialogue, its freshness of observation, Night Dogs--and Hanson--will remain etched in the memory for a long time to come.

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From Amazon

"Every June 15th out at North Precinct, 'A' relief and graveyard shift started killing dogs. The police brass and local politicians only smiled if they were asked about it, shook their heads, and said it was just another one of those old myths about the precinct. The cops at North Precinct called them 'Night Dogs,' feral dogs, wild and half-wild, who roamed the districts after dark. Their ancestors had been pets, beaten and abandoned by their owners to breed and give birth on the streets." That's the stately, carefully weighted language and metaphor that begins what James Crumley (The Last Good Kiss) calls "the best cop novel I have ever read." Of course, the "night dogs" are not only the roaming canines but also the people from the rougher neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon--most particularly the police who work out of North Precinct. Seen through the eyes of a patrolman named Hanson, a Vietnam vet who thought he had seen the worst the world had to offer over there but is proved wrong every day, the story at first seems episodic, unconnected. But gradually all the threads of anger and pain come together to create an unforgettable picture of urban angst. Author Kent Anderson, who was a Vietnam vet and a Portland policeman in the 1970s, says that some readers might find his book disturbing or offensive: "The truth sometimes affects people that way." Then he adds a chilling footnote: "Things are much worse now than they were in 1975." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

It is 1975, and Vietnam veteran Hanson, the hero of Anderson's first novel, Sympathy for the Devil (1987), is a street cop in Portland, Oregon. Through a series of increasingly disorienting episodes, he dispenses rough justice and doubtful order in the toughest and most degraded parts of the city. The stresses in post-Vietnam American society and Hanson's difficulty in resolving his experiences in combat lead him through some disturbing rites, as for instance the annual North Precinct feral dog hunt, in which officers compete to run over strays with their patrol cars. Drugs, guns, sex, and all the usual attractions of youth call to Hanson; eventually, the death of a close friend and mentor impels him to make his peace with life. Anderson's vision is undeniably powerful, but the relentless violence and dark atmosphere will put off the squeamish. Recommended for large public libraries. [First published in 1996 in a limited edition by Dennis McMillan Publications, this novel is being given a full national distribution by Bantam.?Ed.]?Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
-?Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing April 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
ok let me start by saying crime/mystery books are not my usual reading material. but all the rave reviews for this book along with the interesting subject matter led me to give it a try. about 10 pages in i realized that this guy is not a very talented writer. did an actual person really write this? it reads like the output of some cop-story-writing computer somewhere. so cliche, so flat, ugh! but then again it was no worse than other crime/mystery stuff i read after crime/mystery book fans gushed about them to me. but if you are a reader who likes fresh, well-written novels-- this ain't it! here's one: The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger (interesting, "edgy" subject matter AND well-written!)
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Night Dogs takes you into the 70's where a lot of police where corrupt into the world of Hanson a vietnam war veteran whose thoughts are dark, disturbing, and ever more real. Night Dogs takes a brutal look into the sacrifices police officers make and more about the inner demons that they face. This is by far the darkest police novel I've ever read. It's also the most truthful and honest police novel I've ever read. I'm a big fan of Pelecanos, who praised this book highly and was the reason why I picked up this book in the first place.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A DEEPLY MOVING LOOK AT ONE MAN'S LIFE March 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This continuation of Sympathy for the devil is a stand-alone novel that packs quite a punch in and of itself.
The cops life described here is harsh and brutal as looked at here in the 70's.
Kent Anderson is a great writer who takes you to the seedier side of town, deep into the no-man's land of crime and punishment.
His realistic look at a survivor of Vietnam, war veteran-turned cop Hanson, is an engaging character who fights his inner demons as well as his town.
I usually don't even read this type of novel, but this one was riveting and so harsh, you couldn't help but keep reading throughtout the days and nights to its climax.
A must read for those who like something more than crime drama, but is in fact a look into a man's head who is fighting his inner demons.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical cop story... May 27 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although you can find NIGHT DOGS in the suspense/thriller section at your neighborhood bookstore, Kent Anderson's story of the stark reality of a Portland cop's beat in the aftermath of the Vietnam War is much more than your everyday thriller. Officer Hanson is a character you will not soon forget. A Vietnam veteran haunted by his military experience, Hanson finds purpose in his job as a cop in the North Precinct, a proud but poor Portland neighborhood, where the police are more often at odds with the residents than protecting them.
But this is not your typical cop-story or your run of the mill thriller. The language is brutal, the characters peculiar, the overall tone is murky, dark. This book is not for the timid. Hanson's motivations are disturbing, and the whole story has an abrasiveness to it that is not often found in suspense novels, where that final confrontation between good and evil is what keeps you turning the pages. The reader of NIGHT DOGS is not necessarily motivated by that imminent conflict with the antagonist, but the nagging wonder of whether or not Hanson will ultimately destroy himself. The showdown between good and evil is nullified because the line between the two has been erased and they have melded into one gruesome blur.
As an exclusive reader of thriller novels, this is the first that I have felt strongly enough about to write a review. The characters, not just Hanson but his supporting cast as well, will likely stick in your memory for some time. I have read a half dozen novels since finishing NIGHT DOGS, but Anderson's images remain as strong as ever. This is an important book. I recommend it highly to readers of all genres.
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By Dusty
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Anderson's novel involving the on duty and off duty activities of Hanson is quite an eye opener......he brought Vietnam to Portland to try to sort it all out as he was sorting out the problems on the streets here....I have never had much interest in watching 'police' drama on television as I suspect that much of it is nowhere near the truth.....perhaps we cannot take the truth and maybe that is why Anderson said that his book might not be for everyone.....certainly not for the faint of heart.....politically correct......or squealmish but I rate it as a five because it does allot of soul searching....gives us valuable insight into the daily routine on the streets.....I think he is a sad character.....allot of demons....I was afraid while reading it that he might 'eat his gun' the way allot of police officers do when they no longer have the street to go to everyday......at least that is what my ex told me who is a police officer, a gold badge now........and in the end I was pleased that he moved on with Truman.....to better pastures..
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4.0 out of 5 stars Grim Nov. 2 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm ex-Army and now a police officer. I spent many years in the Army and at best found it okay. I like police work in all it's glory. I also see similarities in this novel and what I've experienced, but I think the crucial thing to point out is that Kent Anderson was a cop in the mid-seventies. Maybe things are worse now, but I don't agree.The country was exhausted after the sixties and Watergate and nobody cared about the state of affairs. The cops were trying to deal with a bad situation with limited resources and in many cases not the greatest people were wearing the uniform. The city I work in has it's problems and it's bad areas, but the cops I serve with aren't burnouts and alcoholics. Times have changed and people have changed. It's a good novel and it takes you into the streets, but it isn't necessarily how it is anymore. I truely belive this.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very realistic
As an ex Army Ranger and current police officer I can see myself and my co-workers in this book. It does not get anymore real than this.
Published on April 7 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Cop Novel Since Wambaughs Choirboys
Night Dogs caught me totally by surprise. I bought the book not knowing what to expect, and after I read the first 3 pages I knew I had found something unique. Read more
Published on March 28 2000 by Dan
3.0 out of 5 stars No plot
It's okay, but nothing special. Michael Connelly hits very similar territory with more craft. Simply put, Connelly is more of a pro. Read more
Published on Dec 25 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Real life in Portland, 1975
I worked with Kent Anderson in North Precinct in 1975. Although the book is fiction, many of the stories have a ring of truth and the gut feelings he describes so well are real. Read more
Published on Dec 5 1999 by James Bellah
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Cop books I have read!
Great characters, gritty action, and the low life of the streets. Hanson, an ex-special forces Vietnam veteran is a cop on the streets in Portland Oregon in the mid 70s. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 1999 by Kenneth S. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, full of devices.
This may have worked as a short story. But it sure went nowhere fast as a novel. I have nothing against turning the standard storytelling method on its head, but this seems to... Read more
Published on Oct. 9 1999 by S. McHale
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I was very disappointed by the slow pace of this book, and the vulgarity, while maybe realistic, was just too much to take. This book will NOT end up on my shelf. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 1999 by cmmckenz@bhsc.hbocvan
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