Possibly the best book I’ve ever read

0939767287 When I worked at the police department, I found a little paperback in a metal desk’s drawer. The desk was inside the commanding officer’s glass cubicle. It was called Night Dogs, authored by Kent Anderson. At the top of the book was an endorsement by James Patterson, probably the best selling author of suspense and police procedural books. He said that Night Dogs was the truest and best police book he’d ever read. Heavy props…

I took the book home and began to read. I was drawn into a psychologically dark world, where the main character, former Vietnam-vet and now Portland, Oregon police officer, Hanson, battled not only against crime, but his memories of the war in Indo-China and against the greatest war that can be waged: The war against self.

The book is semi-autobiographical. Kent Anderson himself was a special forces sergeant in Vietnam and a police officer in Portland in the seventies. He knows what runs through a cop’s mind, the constant battle of violence against benevolence. At once, a cop must be a servant, and then a warrior ready to kill. No easy task. In one scene, which reminded me of several instances I’d encountered, Hanson goes to a call for service where a mentally ill Vietnam-vet is causing a noise disturbance. Hanson speaks with the vet inside his apartment. The veteran is mentally deranged, still wearing old army issue clothes with pictures of his war-buddies pinned to them, speaking ominously about laser beams being shot through his windows and all along there is an air of danger, that at any moment this man may snap and try to kill the police officer. Hanson thinks to himself about what he’ll do if he’s attacked, and decides he’d probably have to punch the man in the throat, that that’ll stop anyone, but he concludes that you never know what a deranged person can withstand and still keep going. I remember dealing with some mentally ill people. They’d stare and speak as if they knew something you didn’t, saw into worlds that only they knew existed and sometimes they were convincing enough to make you wonder if that other world really did exist…

I highly recommend this book. I’m not even sure if it’s in print, but I think Random House still puts it out. There’s also a prequel, called Sympathy for the Devil. It’s about Hanson’s time in the Nam.

2 Responses to “Possibly the best book I’ve ever read”

  1. November 13, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Based on the last book you recommended (The Warrior Diet), I was very inclined to trust your recommendations. I was hoping Night Dogs was available on the Amazon Kindle but it wasn’t (although while searching I came across a book called the “The Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre” which sounds so off the wall it’s probably worth taking a chance on). However I did find it on Amazon (here’s the link for anyone looking for it http://www.amazon.com/Night-Dogs-Kent-Anderson/dp/0553578774/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226542204&sr=8-1 ) . It arrived Monday evening but I didn’t get a chance to start it until today. So far, it’s been really hard to put down. I can just tell it’s going to be a great read and hopefully i’ll have it knocked out by the weekend. Keep the book recommendations coming, so far they’ve been superb.

    BTW, if you look at the reviews on Amazon, it’s done amazingly well. It’s got almost a perfect rating and when it’s that close to a 5 with that many reviews, you have to disregard the negatives as the typical jerks that just like trashing books on general principle (on Amazon it’s next to impossible to garner a perfect 5 if you have any amount of reviews).

    Thanks again!

  2. November 13, 2008 at 2:41 am

    It’s a dark book. But it’s true to life. Others read like a Nancy Drew Mystery in comparison.

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