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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
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic piece of fiction!! Jan. 19 1999
By A Customer
I met Kent Anderson as a student when he was teaching at Boise State University. While working on a paper which dealt with trying to understand the "combat high," I read his fantastic "Sympathy for the Devil" and got hooked on his Hanson character. Years before "Night Dogs" came out, he talked about some of the things he was going to put into the book, so I had been waiting a long time to see Hanson re-emerge. Alas, I was not disappointed, "Night Dogs" has that same pushing-the-envelope realism I loved in "Sympathy." The Hanson character is an amazing paradox of savagery and kindness wrapped up like a too-tightly-bound rubber band ready to explode or implode at any moment. Like "Sympathy," "Night Dogs" has the same feel of sanity in a world of insanity, of living hard with memories and the realities of a street cop's life. The streets of Portland take on the same insane, sad, and humorous elements that Hanson's Vietnam had. "Night Dogs" has an expertly woven surreal quality that few authors can capture. Anderson makes mention of author James Crumley in "Night Dogs". On a whim, I researched his works and have also become addicted to his fiction. He too writes of Vietnam and hard living, and I recommend any of his works as well. Kent Anderson is an amazing writer who I hope will continue to share Hanson with us and, for that matter, anything else he might grace us with.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Night or Day...This book is a real dog Aug. 26 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the type of book that keeps you on the edge of your seat....Waiting for something, ANYTHING, to happen. Kent Anderson certainly can write words, but as far as a real story, I just could not find it. If you enjoy reading about the daily life of the main character, the ebb and the flow, by all means purchase this book. There was no real plot development, no overall story direction, just the same old daily routines with minor changes. This book reads more like the ideal Seinfeld episode...a story about nothing. If you really want to get a feel for police life, or any life, do not waste your money here. If however, you really have a desire to know how every scene in the book SMELLS, grab this book and dive right in. I do not know why, but Mr. Anderson feels the need to tell us how everything in life smells! Once you notice that he sets up nearly every scene in the book this way it can drive you crazy. I cannot recommend this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
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... Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by Karin S. Chenowith
5.0 out of 5 stars A look into the life of a vietnam veteran turned cop
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. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2004
This continuation of Sympathy for the devil is a stand-alone novel that packs quite a punch in and of itself. Read more
Published on March 21 2003 by Mace & Lacey Gannon
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim
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. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2000 by Jeff Cordell
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 6 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 27 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 4 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
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