RARA-AVIS: Sleeping Dog

From: Peedie Monk ( peediemonk@ukonline.co.uk)
Date: 23 May 2002

I finished list-member Dick Lochte's "Sleeping Dog". I have a few observations/questions. No spoilers, don't worry. 1: This is a remarkably polished novel. A mystery/thriller/PI novel full of wit and tenderness and, er, murder, and, oh yeah, dogs tearing each other to pieces. The fact that it's a first novel just makes it even more remarkable. 2: Following on from 1. Given the alternating first person narration (the story is told from two viewpoints, that of Serendipity, a precocious 14-year-old girl, and Leo Bloodworth, a hardboiled PI), how does the author manage to establish the current point of view so immediately without resorting to using the characters' names as headers? 3: Leading from 2. Off the top of my head, the only other book I've read that uses two first person narrators is "1977" by David Peace. Also a tremendously effective novel. Why is this technique not used more widely? Is it because most writers don't have the necessary skill, or is it because the technique is generally considered unlikely to work? Crais's "LA Requiem" and Coben's "Tell No One" both use a first person/third person pairing that requires more than a little suspension of disbelief and "LA Requiem", particularly, would have been much more hard-hitting if the Pike sections had been written from his point of view. 4: If Jim hadn't pointed out the Wizard of Oz parallels at the start of this month, it would have probably passed over my head. Missing mutt starts the ball rolling. Leo = the Lion. Rock City = Emerald City. Too subtle for me! 5: Without wishing to provoke further debate on the definition of hardboiled, it's interesting nonetheless to speculate that using Jim's definition, the parts written from Serendipity's POV are not hardboiled (she has an extensive vocabulary and comes from a priveleged background), whereas Bloodworth's POV sections are. This makes "Sleeping Dog" par-hardboiled. 6: I can see why Mark said he wanted to read it again. Me, too. After I've read "Laughing Dog".

Al Guthrie

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