on November 3, 2006
Lochte pairs an unlikely duo of detectives -- a teenage girl and a middle-aged private eye. There is a fine mystery afoot, but half the fun comes from seeing the teenage girl through her own eyes (gifted sleuth, woman of the world) and through the eyes of her partner (she's an out-of-her-depth pest), meanwhile seeing the private eye through the same mismatched binoculars. It's a Rashomon thing. While the mystery pulled me in and eventually made me scared, the ongoing comedy of misperception made me grin and even laugh out loud.
This was an entertaining mystery debut by Dick Lochte. He is an insider when it comes to writing about the city of Los Angeles (Lochte worked for the LA Times) and the egotistical personalities in Hollywood (he wrote screenplays for actors Jodi Foster, Martin Sheen, and Roger Moore). Lochte also writes about the seedy side of The City of The Angels as well as a few of its human devils.
The previous reviewers have written just about as much as possible about SLEEPING DOG without spoiling this book, so I have nothing more to add, though I did learn a lot more than I knew about the cruel world of dog fighting. Actually, I didn't know anything about dog fighting, except for what I read in the newspapers about a certain NFL quarterback who was deeply involved in it. About that subject, I read enough in this book.
One of the reviewers here compared the precocious 14-year-old protagonist in this book, Serendipity "Sehr" Dahlquist, to the ultra-curious 11-year-old Flavia de Luce in I AM HALF-SICK of SHADOWS by Alan Bradley. I prefer Flavia, though I will give Sehr another look when I pick up Lochte's second book LAUGHING DOG. 3.5 stars
on September 5, 2014
Precocious doesn’t begin to describe fourteen-and-a-half year-old Serendipity Dahlquist who’s wise well beyond her years. Neither of her parents is in the picture and so Serendipity, or Sarah, lives in L.A. with her grandmother, a famous day-time television soap opera star. Sarah’s treasured companion is her dog, Groucho, a bullterrier that was a gift from Sarah’s late father thirteen years earlier, before he went off to meet his fate in the Vietnam War.
Sarah is devastated when she returns home one afternoon to find the front door standing open and Groucho gone. She appeals to the police for help to no avail, but a police detective refers her to a P.I. named Leo “the Bloodhound” Bloodworth. Sarah straps on her roller balls and skates over to Bloodworth’s office, but Bloodworth has no tolerance for kids and even less interest in the case of the missing Groucho. When Sarah refuses to take no for an answer, Bloodworth’s office mate, a P.I. named Roy Kaspar, offers to help. He takes a retainer from Sarah, drives her home and looks over the scene. He then promises to report back in three days.
When Kaspar fails to report as promised, Sarah tracks down Bloodworth is a sleazy bar and informs him that she’s just been to his office which has been ransacked. After assessing the damage in the office, the two then go in search of Kaspar and find him murdered. Bloodworth didn’t like Kaspar very much, but Sarah insists that “When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t matter if he liked him or not, he’s supposed to do something about it.” The Bloodhound tells Sarah that she’s been watching too many old movies and that he’s perfectly content to let the cops handle the investigation.
In fairly short order, though, it turns out that Kaspar’s murder and the disappearance of Groucho are almost certainly related and for reasons way too complicated to explain, Sarah and Bloodworth wind up joined at the hip, on the road, and up to their necks in trouble with a particularly vicious band of Mexican criminals. It’s a very entertaining romp, principally because Lochte has created in Sarah and Bloodworth two unique, intriguing and very amusing characters. The dialogue between them is often hilarious.
The story is told through their alternating views so that the reader sees each development through the eyes of both Sarah and Bloodworth, and the end result is a great deal of fun. This book was first published in 1985, and was nominated for virtually all of the major crime fiction awards. The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association named it one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Twentieth Century, but it has been out of print and largely unavailable for a number of years. Happily, it has just been re-released in a new trade paperback edition as well as in an e-book edition and so it’s now available to an entirely new audience of readers who are sure to enjoy it as much as the original audience did.
on June 11, 2003
Sleeping Dog introduces the unlikely duo of Serendipity Dahlquest, world-weary 14-year-old, and Leo "the Bloodhound" Bloodworth, a just plain weary forty-something PI. Serendipity wants to hire Leo to find her missing dog, the only reminder she has left of her long-gone father. Leo can't be bothered with a kid, and passes her on to his sleazy partner, who shortly thereafter winds up dead. Of course Leo feels obligated to step in and try to resolve the situation. From there on it's an escalating tale of misguided kidnappers, dogfights, drugs, and unique relatives all set again a Los Angeles background.
This story bears up well considering it was originally published almost twenty years ago. The author's method of alternating voices between Serendity and Leo each chapter gives the reader two unique views of every situation in which the pair find themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries that are lively without being too gory or too cute. I look forward to reading their second mis-adventure, Laughing Dog.
on April 9, 2015
Two sleuths, the teenage Serendipity Dahlquist and her reluctant Private Eye partner, Bloodworth, make an irresistible combination as they go after Bad Guys, starting with the theft of Serendipity's dog that leads to a series of murders. The writing is smart, knowing, and the voices and descriptions of Southern California are dead-on. A classic that led to a series for Dick Lochte.
on November 14, 2014
The success of self-publishing meant that books no longer have an expiration date. Authors have a chance of rescuing their out-of-print books and giving them a chance to find a new audience. But should they? In the case of Dick Lochte’s “Sleeping Dog” (Brash Books), the answer is definitely yes. The slightly skewed story of a world-weary Los Angeles P.I. helping a precocious girl find her missing dog reads as fresh as when it was released in 1985.
In the pantheon of L.A. detectives, put Leo Bloodworth down alongside Sam Spade, only older and more broken-down ─ with a dickey ticker and not much of a fighter. Late in his life, the former LAPD cop is only interested in doing his job with a minimum of damage. When his ex-partner on the force sends the girl to Leo on her rollerblades ─ this is 1985, remember ─ the last thing he wants is a clever boots and a small-change case, and he sends her along to the guy he shares to office with.
Then that guy gets himself killed. Someone thinks Bloodworth knew about the dodgy stuff he was up to. His home and office are tossed, and he gets beaten up. Somehow, the missing dog is part of the mystery. Leo has to get on the case, if only to keep what’s left of his health.
At 14, Serendipity Dahlquist is smart enough to be believable and so adorable you want to protect her. Her missing-dog case is complicated by her straying mother, her soap-opera actress grandmother, and a TV comic gunning to be the next Bob Hope. There is also an encounter with organized dog fights that might upset some animal lovers.
“Sleeping Dog” is also worth reading for its clever backstory. After the blood dried, both Leo and Serendipity wrote tell-all books which an unscrupulous publisher combined into one over their objections. The result is a story told in two distinctive voices, with some events retold Rashomon-style.
“Sleeping Dog” comes from Brash Books, a new publishing house dedicated to bringing back the best mysteries and thrillers of the past. It was a notable debut for Lochte, winning the Nero Wolfe Award and shortlisted for the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony. The New York Times made it one of their books of the year. Three decades later, their judgments are still on the money.
I just read "Sleeping Dog", and got a kick out of it. It was originally published in 1985, and won the Nero Wolfe Award for the same year. If you aren't familiar with this award, it is awarded annually by the Wolfe Pack, a society started in 1978 to appreciate and celebrate the mysteries written by Rex Stout, starring that overweight orchid lover, Nero Wolfe. The only requirement for consideration of this award is that the book stand for "literary excellence in the mystery genre" (from the Wolfe Pack's offical site).
"Sleeping Dog" was also nominated for the Edgar [Mystery Writers of America], the Shamus [Private Eye Writers of America] and the Anthony [Bouchercon World Mystery Convention]. Not only that, the Independent Mystery Bookseller's Association, in 1999, listed it as one of it's "100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century".
Whew! This explains why this book is still in print after 26 years. It is just a lot of fun.
It is also a little over the top - this is not a sober-sided police procedural. Serendipity (Sehr) Dahlquist has got to be the most troublesome, independent, quick-thinking and precocious fourteen year-old ever. Leo "The Bloodhound" Bloodworth is a relatively happy/grumpy and soft-hearted version of Sam Spade. They meet when Sehr tries to hire Roy Kaspar, the P.I. sharing office space with Leo, to find her missing doggie. Unfortunately, Kaspar immediately turns up dead. Sehr and Leo try to investigate that, too, and end up getting in all sorts of trouble.
The tale is told with Serendipity and Leo telling their side of the story in alternating chapters. I thought this was handled well.
Very enjoyable read.
November 4, 2011
I'm adding a bit to this review. If you'd like to read another mystery, with a young protagonist who reminds me a lot of Serendipity, try a Flavia le Duce mystery. I just read the fourth in the series, "I Am Half Sick of Shadows" and really enjoyed it.
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel
on December 28, 2013
Interesting private detective novel, in which the PI (bad-tempered, old) teams up with an adolescent California girl, in a search for her missing dog. The two key characters take turn as narrator. The device sometimes overwhelms the story, but it is an interesting read.
on November 19, 2014
Meet one of the most offbeat detective teams you'll ever meet - a sharp 14 year old girl looking for her missing dog and a world weary LA former cop turned private eye - as they try to unravel a string of knife and garroting killings up and down California - killings that seem to follow them wherever they go.
Along the way, the run into organized dog fights; the girl's mom who abandoned her years ago and left her in care of her soap actress grandmother; the local mafia; violent, but dumb, detectives; LA television people, and a host of other strange and too familiar characters, many you'll wish you never meet.
This is a laugh out loud thriller that will keep you looking for the killer until nearly the last incredible page.
on November 15, 2014
Kudos to Brash Books for bringing this one back into print. Don't know how I missed it first time around, especially since it won all sorts of awards. It stars a True Grit-like duo of a hardboiled PI and a precocious 14-year-old girl on the trail of kidnapped dog in Los Angeles. The fun comes from their tag team-retelling of the story, the dialogue, the motley cast of characters, and the plot--which is perhaps overly twisty, but always engaging. How did the movie makers miss this one?