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Night Dogs Hardcover – January 5, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (January 5, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055310764X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553107647
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,626,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"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."

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Patrick M. on 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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James Bellah on December 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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. He humanizes the police and the people on the street, far from a "Just the facts, Ma'm" kind of novel. Cops can cry, cops can be afraid and Anderson shows what it was like. Our police union newspaper editor gave it a bad review, saying it was too racist. But then again, but he never worked anything other than middle class white neighborhoods. I guess you had to be there. Read the book and you will be.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dan on March 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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. The book is not a dramatic account of the search for a serial killer or a drug lord, but instead gives an episodic glimpse into the life of a young cop who is still trying to make sense of his experiences in Vietnam as a Green Beret. The most influential people in my life have been vietnam vets, and the Hanson character has helped me understand what the young men of that generation who served went through. Anyone interested in police work or the Vietnam war should read this book and then read Sympathy For The Devil to better understand where the sometimes cruel Officer Hanson character is coming from. This is a fantastic book, I hope Mr. Anderson is getting the recognition he deserves.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Cordell on January 3, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first wrote a review of this novel over six years ago when I was a brand new police officer. I had problems with the book. But back then what did I know about police work? Nothing.

Skip ahead to the present and I find that this book is more truthful than I realized. Though he was only a cop for a few years Anderson manages to capture the essence or truth (that's an overused word)of police work.

Now I haven't been involved with any questionable shootings and I don't carry a throw-away piece, but the changes that a person goes through after a few years are accurate. The anger, the sense of isolation and disgust that one comes to feel towards the citizenry are dead on.

A cop gets to wade chest deep int the ugliest areas of our society. A cop isn't loved like a firefighter. It's inevitable and we all tell ourselves that we don't care, but there are times that it sets our teeth on edge. Almost nobody really likes or isn't bothered by hatred or disdain. the anger that comes from this situation is made even greater when people who are so vocal in their criticism of cops are the first to dial 911 when something bad is going on. Hypocriscy at it's finest.This and other situations will affect a cop and how he approaches things.This book shows that and more.

The novel is set in the early seventies but nothing has changed. Its a grim job and Anderson captures it. It's also a job that I won't ever quit even during the worse of days Anderson dosen't see it that way, but nevertheless it's an accurate book. Read it and you'll have a better idea of what cops experience and feel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2004
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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