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Bird Dog Kindle Edition

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

Harold Dodge, overweight and pushing 50 hard, loves woman and cars. So when the extremely striking Marianna Perado interrupts his acquisition of a real cream puff--an '86 Maxima that he knows he can slap a $100 detail job on, then resell for an extra $1000--and asks for his help in getting her trade-in back from the hotshot dealer he used to work for, Harold just can't say no. Within minutes, he's up to his ears in dangerous deals and scams that escalate into a carnival of terror. If Florida's Carl Hiassen moved to the seamier side of Los Angeles, this first novel might well be the kind of thing he'd come up with. But former journalist and television writer Philip Reed has already claimed the territory, and is at work on his second mystery about Harold Dodge.

From Library Journal

This jaunty, humorous, and captivating first novel features a cast of quirky California characters and their misadventures. Lush-bodied Marianna picks on middle-aged co-worker Harold?who wrote a tell-all book about used cars?for help when a car salesman cheats her. Thus begins an itinerant tale of scam and counterscam, car distribution corruption, tender-hearted strippers, attempted murder, accidental murder, car chases, outwitted hoodlums, vituperative ex-wives, pot-smoking brothers, and incipient love. Quick shifts of scene steadily increase the suspense, but this is one of those books that ends too soon.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 961 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: 280 Steps; 1 edition (February 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: February 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IE2U2VS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,289 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

People tell me they laugh when they read my books, even though I don't try to be funny. I write comic thrillers set in California and nonfiction books about golf, basketball and how to count cards and win at blackjack.

I started my writing career as a police reporter in Chicago and Denver and then moved to California and became a playwright, and wrote one of the first episodes of Miami Vice. My first novel, Bird Dog, was published by Pocket Books and was nominated for the Edgar and Anthony mystery writers' awards. Later, I became an undercover car salesman and wrote the online sensation "Confessions of a Car Salesman." I am currently an editor at, in Santa Monica, California, and I often appear on NPR and national television talking about cars. I hope by now you are interested enough to read more. So here's the expanded version of my life and background.

When I was a kid I had trouble sleeping, so I read late into the night. Anyone who loves reading will harbor dreams of writing their own books. And that's exactly what happened to me. I wanted to have adventures and write about them, like my heroes Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson and Ernest Hemingway.

I have an older sister and two younger brothers. My father is an inventor and my mother is very artistic. We moved around when I was small: Minneapolis, New York and Indiana. When I was in second grade we moved to Concord, Massachusetts, the home of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. I used love going to the public library where there were marble statues of these literary lions that had lived within walking distance of my house.

When I was in 8th grade my family moved to Oxford, England, for a year. I was on my school's rugby and cricket teams and during lunch we played soccer with an old can. For a week I attended mountain climbing school in the Lake District, climbing mountains in the driving rain under the guidance of strict guides. I was famished all the time and allowed only to eat an apple, a piece of cheese and a date bar for lunch. The other boys threw the date bars at the sheep but bartered for the extras and ate them all, despite the taste. In the summer, I built a raft and floated down the Thames River like Huckleberry Finn. Unfortunately, I found out that there is little current on that river so we would sit for hours in the same place.

Back in the good old, U.S.A. I entered high school and found I was a horrible student. I was more interested in reading books, playing sports and fixing old cars. I was on the soccer, tennis, lacrosse and fencing teams. My fencing team toured the eastern seaboard competing against college teams such as MIT, Harvard, Yale, NYU and Rutgers.

Due to my poor grades, I attended a junior college in Massachusetts. By this time I was interested in writing but had little actual success at it. My English papers were entertainingly written, but were poorly focused and had many typos. However, my junior college soccer coach recommended me to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I went there sight unseen for two reasons: it was the alma mater of Thomas Wolfe and they actually admitted me.

In my last two years of college I finally started to knuckle down and try to get good grades. Interestingly, when I was a senior, pondering the great unknown beyond college, I had one professor who told me my writing skills were very weak, while another thought I was an entertaining writer and could make a living at it. I took the second professor's advice.

The end of college saw the beginning of a long string of offbeat jobs. I became a chauffeur for a rich Bostonian in her summer home on Cape Cod. I was a room service waiter in Boston's Copley Plaza Hotel where I met Jimmy Carter, Scoop Jackson and the actor Ben Gazara. During this time I sold a few articles to the Christian Science Monitor. With these clips, I was able to land a job at the City New Bureau of Chicago as a police reporter.

For two years worked the night shift covering murders, robberies, fires, bombings, train wrecks, freak accidents and suicides. It was a real shock for a kid from the suburbs to see real life unfolding on the mean streets of Chicago. But I began to feel I was gathering information that I could someday use as a mystery writer. When a tipster called one night about the murder of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, who broke a prison scandal, I began writing my first novel. That, along with many others, were never finished.

One day while walking through the campus of the University of Chicago, I met a woman named Vivian I had known at UNC. We began to see a lot of each other, spending most of our time at the movies or talking about books.

Meanwhile, my parents moved to Denver, Colorado. Ever since I read those adventure stories as a boy, I had dreamed of going West. When I visited my parents for Christmas, I fell in love with the Rockies and soon moved there with Vivian. We were married on a ranch high in the mountains overlooking Denver.

I continued working as a police reporter, this time on the staff of The Rocky Mountain News, a morning tabloid. I drove around the city in a car with a police scanner and a two-way radio. Sometimes, I arrived at shootings before the police and paramedics got there. I also covered at least two dozen murder trials which was a new perspective from covering crime on the streets. Again, I felt I was getting more grist for the mill so I could someday write mysteries.

While I worked, my wife, Vivian, wrote screenplays. One of her scripts caught the eye of a Hollywood agent. We decided to move to Los Angeles and take a shot at writing for movies and TV. However, when I arrived, I landed a job as a theater critic for The Hollywood Drama-Logue. For two years I reviewed three plays a week. Soon, I arranged the production of my first play, True Blues, which I also directed. This led to a writing assignment for "Miami Vice."

My other plays were "Boondoggle" (produced on a double bill with Vivian's "Rat Race"), "Vacancy in Paradise" (co-written with Vivian) and "Nightside." I also wrote for TV's "Beauty and the Beast" and "Probe." Later, I wrote many screenplays, some of which were optioned.
In the 1990s I came full circle and wrote my first book, a how-to guide to car buying. This led to other non-fiction books on automotive and computer subjects. I also wrote the autobiography Candidly, Allen Funt. During this time, we had two sons, Andrew and Tony.
Using what I learned in the Allen Funt biography, I decided to make the jump to fiction. In 1997 Bird Dog was published, followed by Low Rider, in 1998. In 2001, The Marquis de Fraud was released. A stand-alone thriller, with the working title Off and Running, will be published by Brash Books in 2015. Also, a non-fiction book called A Piece of the Action; My year counting cards with a professional blackjack player, a priest and a $30,000 bankroll will be published by Skyhorse in the Spring.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By burglar on November 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book jacket on this little gem describes it as a "car noir thriller", and this is one of those rare instances when the cover blurb nails it. If you want cars, this story is dripping with Mercedes and Maximas and Fords and GMC's and Integra's, even an Escort (!?). If you're into noir, you'll love the seedy downtown LA settings, the bodies in the trunk, the femme fatale seeking revenge -- and an ending that does the genre justice. Finally, it is a non-stop thrill ride through wrecked lives and double-dealing and the law on your tail no matter which way you turn. The hero (always a relative term in noir) is Harold Dodge, who falls hard for a babe in spike heels who's been hoodwinked on an automobile transaction and wants him to "unwind the deal" for her. Unable to resist those killer legs, he agrees. Before Dodge knows it, he's in trouble up to his neck, winds up in jail, almost gets himself killed and manages to get laid like he's never been before, though not necessarily in that order. If you like Elmore Leonard and Jim Thompson, you'll like Phil Reed, too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Georgine G. Kabler on December 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Bird Dog" opens with a glimpse of killer-Mex, Mariana, a raven-haired beauty with red lips and flashing teeth, in stiletto heels. She's out to buy a car, a simple task that leads to mayhem when she is taken advantage of by an unscrupulous car dealer. Enter Harold Dodge, a work mate of Mariana's at an aerospace company. It turns out that Harold has written a book on how to buy a used car, which is based on his previous life as a car salesman, a.k.a. "bird dog," for the car lot where Mariana purchased her car. The fun begins when Harold accompanies Mariana back to the car dealership, then back into the maze of the LA underbelly of chop shops, corruption and greed.
Harold, a quirky but loveable, bear of a man, with fifty in his rear view mirror, can't say no to a beautiful woman. Through tough negotiation, fast action, and sometimes just dumb luck, Harold manages to extricate himself and Mariana from some very hairy situations.
Reed brings his offbeat characters to life and makes the reader a part of their hapless ride through danger. He has a knack for showing the best and worst of his characters, making them real and sometimes tragically funny. Believe me, you'll never look at that nondescript man at the office in the same way again, after you've met Harold Dodge.
"Bird Dog," Reed's first book, is a fast read about a fast ride. If you liked "Bird Dog," read on. The chronicle of Harold Dodge continues in "Low Rider." Don't miss the fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Dickinson on October 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I'm not used to the thriller genre. The book was emotionally draining. It reminded me of a friend's comment about the movie "Blue Velvet": "Some of the characters are such scum you don't want to be on the same planet with them." Whew. I don't know how I'll ever be able to buy a car again! At least they by and large eliminated each other, eventually, but not as painlessly as one might wish. When it's over, how does the occasionally introspective, moralizing hero, Harold figure he stands with God? He's quite a mensch, hard not to like. No wonder his magnetism affects enough women to complicate things for him. Great job setting up for a sequel, too. It 's just that "Bird Dog" leaves so much scorched earth that I can't imagine how Harold can possibly set foot anywhere near LA ever again. Which is perfect, of course, because I have to read the next book to find out. Something tells me that glowering cop Gammon was just warming up in "Bird Dog." Harold had better stay under his radar. Note on irritating speech mannerisms mentioned in previous review: Harold's the only character in the book who peppers his conversation with "i.e." I've known people with at least equally irritating tics, and my impression was that that's all it is: i.e., characterization.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Philip Reed's Bird Dog introduces us to former car salesman turned engineer Harold Dodge. Aptly described as a "car noir" thriller, Bird Dog offers readers a thrilling ride with Harry - one of the most interesting characters I've come across in quite some time - at our sides.
Harry Dodge seems to have two joys and weaknesses in his life - cars and women. So it's no surprise that he lands in hot water after sexy Marianna Perado walks into his life, the victim of a car deal gone sour. Marianna's experience at Joe Covo's car dealership has left her feeling ripped off and cheated. Dodge knows all about car dealers cheating their customers, and he knows about Joe Covo's activities from personal experience. By agreeing to help Marianna unwind the car deal, Harry finds himself in the middle of an elaborate plot of revenge, crosses and double-crosses that play out in the streets of Los Angeles.
There is a little bit of everything in Bird Dog - hot cars, hot women, vengeance, seedy characters, and a plot with as many twist and turns as you might expect in L.A. It's a great thriller, and a different kind of thriller than I've come across. Give this Edgar Award nominated novel a try and get acquainted with Harry Dodge.
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