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Night Dogs (Hanson #2)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  261 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Former police officer Kent Anderson, author of the memorable Vietnam War novel Sympathy for the Devil, returns with a powerful new novel about a Vietnam-vet cop who still carries the war inside himself. Searing and brutally honest, Night Dogs plunges us into the free-fire zones of our cities, where the legendary thin blue line is breaking down.

The North Precinct of Portlan
Paperback, 544 pages
Published April 6th 1999 by Bantam Books (first published February 1997)
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The New Centurions by Joseph WambaughCarlito's Way and After Hours by Edwin TorresNight Dogs by Kent AndersonHomicide by David SimonBangkok 8 by John Burdett
Best Crime and Police Novels Ever Written
3rd out of 37 books — 16 voters
Fight Club by Chuck PalahniukThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Godfather by Mario PuzoLonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Best Manfiction
496th out of 1,210 books — 482 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 557)
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May 25, 2015 Checkman rated it liked it
Recommends it for: wannabe cops. anyone curious about police officers
I first wrote a review of this novel over thirteen years ago on I was a brand new police officer. I had problems with the book. Didn't like the protaganist or the portrayal of police work. But then what did I know about police work? Well that answer is simple - nothing.

Skip ahead to the present. I recently re-read it out of curiosity. I discovered that this book is more truthful than I realized. Though he was only a cop for a few years (I believe it was three years in the early seve
May 27, 2015 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
One has to be careful assuming that a fictional work about police is historically accurate or insightful, because of the need of the author to tell an engaging, riveting story, which I think Anderson does, but I sense too that there is a lot of truth concerning law enforcement in rundown urban areas, in this case Portland, in the 1970s. The attitudes of many of the characters ring believable, though I doubt most cops would have done the same things the protagonist did. They certainly reflect sto ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing
Gritty cop novel set in 1975, post-Vietnam America (Portland, OR). Long treatment looks at the dark forces at work in the protagonist's work and life. James Crumley called ND the best cop novel he ever read. Excellent fare.
Sep 07, 2009 Johnny rated it really liked it
Dark and gripping character study. While the story is mostly episodic, there is still a strong sense of momentum pushing the story to its end.

Excellent atmosphere and sense of place. Too often genre novels choose convention over realism. This book maintains its gritty reality, while maintaining a strong sense of drama. Reminded me of Joseph Wambaugh with just a touch of the surreal darkness of DAY OF THE LOCUST.

The only fault it may have (my opinion), is that it's a little longer than it needs t
Jul 28, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing
As James Crumley put it in the Forward (and I surely can put no better), "there has never been a police novel like this. The writing is as strong as the material...the dialogue as solid as a brick through a plate glass window, and the prose as sharply precise as a linoleum knife across a throat. Night Dogs is not just a fine book. It's an important book..."

A must read for anyone who is willing to meet a part of America that is so in our face-- but which we can, and most often do, prefer to ignor
Jul 08, 2016 Craig rated it it was amazing
Definitely not for anyone with ingrained preconceptions of what's correct, Anderson's writing style electrifies and dismays, taking his protagonist, both physically and psychologically, very far off the map and into experiential places where very few authors would consider taking their narrative. A semi-autobiographic continuation of Anderson's personal experiences as a former Army Special Forces operative and veteran of two tours in Vietnam, Night Dogs picks up after Anderson's self-representat ...more
Ross Cumming
Jun 03, 2015 Ross Cumming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Kent Anderson's Night Dogs has popped up in my Goodreads recommendations a few times and was also on a list of the ten best novels about Portland, that my elder son sent to me. However I think I may have previously read this novel some 20 years ago, when it was first published, mainly because it combines the two main topics that I used to read about and still do, the Vietnam War and American police officers.
Hanson, our main protagonist, is an ex Green Beret and Vietnam veteran, who is now a Pol
Apr 23, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
I spent 24 years as a police officer, Night Dogs is simply the finest book on modern policing that I have ever read. Prior to reading Night Dogs I would have given that title to Wambaugh's The New Centurions, also an outstanding book. The author successfully conveys the combination of exhilaration and bleak cynicism that is the ultimate byproduct of policing in 20th century America. The main characters are drawn with such humanity and authenticity it is impossible not to care for them. Worth rea ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
This is so far afield from what I generally read that I have little to compare it with. I don't read cop lit, ever. This was recommended to me by someone a long time ago, and so I picked it up on and put it on the shelf. I have no idea why I threw it in my bag for a long flight. (When flying I generally opt for things so light they float.) Wow. This is not your average police procedural. It is gritty and raw and so painfully honest. Really it is more about reintegrating into Americ ...more
Christopher Hivner
May 01, 2012 Christopher Hivner rated it really liked it
Night Dogs follows Hanson, a Viet Nam vet working as a patrol cop in Portland Oregon, over a summer of his life. Hanson works out of the north precinct, a place where only cops who have pissed someone off or screwed up, get sent to work. It's the roughest neighborhoods that Hanson and his partner patrol and the worst people they have to deal with whether it's a murder or a simple noise complaint. Hanson's partner is one of the few other cops who like him. There's one that even hates him and the ...more
Adam Rosenbaum
Sep 01, 2014 Adam Rosenbaum rated it really liked it
Powerful and haunting. Hanson, ex Special forces Vietnam Vet, and now a cop on the mean street of Portland in the 70's, deals with his own demons and justice. Best portrait of the psyche of men returning from war asked to assimilate back into society. We send young men to fight wars and we teach them a skill, how to kill... and then expect them to fit back into "normal society." And then we treat our vets poorly. Very sad. Not for the squeamish,
Jan 27, 2011 Kurt rated it liked it
Takes place in Portland, OR, back in the early 70s, when MLK Ave. was still known as Union Ave. One mean strip of road up in the northeast. Still has some weird pockets, but times have certainly changed it for the better. Disturbed cop novel -- Vietnam vet with a mysterious Special Forces background is the protagonist/antihero.

A few scenes of heart-wrenching despair, usually coming close on the heels of explosively violent acts. The tension as to what might be encountered on any given day kept m
May 22, 2015 Nigel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Raw, angry, powerful novel set in the dying days of the Vietnam War. Hanson is ex-Special Forces, a veteran of the war who has become a cop on the streets of Portland, Oregon. Revelling in the squalor, the violence and the adrenaline, Hanson waxes cynical about the world, but struggles with an inner conflict between his addiction to the power of violence and his soldier's certainty that it's the only way to get anything done, and his own soft, liberal heart, to paraphrase the late James Crumley' ...more
Aug 11, 2010 Jeff rated it it was amazing
This is the sequel to Sympathy for the Devil, which told the story of Hanson the Green Beret in Vietnam. I read Sympathy for the Devil in high school and only found out about Night Dogs recently.

Night Dogs is very 1970s and reminds me of movies like Death Wish where we are told that society is crumbling to pieces. Druggies and criminals run wild in the cities and nothing can stop the slow spread of their disease. You can smell the urban decay when reading Night Dogs and it's interesting to see
John Beckman
Jan 02, 2016 John Beckman rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books, and it doesn't get nearly the credit it should nor the number of readers it deserves. The writing is clean, crisp, edgy. The plot is smooth, yet quirky. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys good writing.
Kit Fox
Dec 03, 2012 Kit Fox rated it liked it
Fractured and rather schizoid like its protagonist, Night Dogs vacillated from focused-and-mesmerizing to confusing-and-random often in the same chapter; actually, often on the same page. With an unmoored main character whose shell-shocked moral compass both implicitly understands the dirty nature of city police work, yet who at the same time has utter contempt for those who take that kind of job too seriously, Anderson's sophomore outing felt more scattershot than Sympathy For the Devil. Or may ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a mystery to me why this book is billed as a mystery. Just because it's about police? More a story on the main character trying to deal with his demons caused by his experiences in the Vietnam war.
Oct 04, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
I read this a couple days ago and this is definitely one of those books that stay with you. Very good writing that snaps off the pages. It starts with a slow grind and then starts to speed up at a break-neck pace. This is definitely the most interesting police novel I've ever read and I really like how all the characters are flawed and almost broken and there are no such things as hero. Very realistic. You will love the main character one minute and re-think your morals later. I would recommend ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Donna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was GRITTY & uncomfortable to read at times but also so darkly humorous.
Aug 10, 2016 John rated it it was ok
Wambaugh imitation. It's ok.
David Shrauger
Feb 18, 2014 David Shrauger rated it it was amazing
A great follow-up to Sympathy for the Devil. It immerses you in the world of a street cop, throwing aside all the tropes you see in police procedural fiction. It is a deeply subversive work that delights in its ability to perplex you. It is ostensibly about crime, but is actually more concerned with how veterans can possibly reintegrate into society after what they have experienced. It is a book beautiful in its ugliness, and I think that anyone who has ever worn a uniform will enjoy it.
Jan 27, 2011 Lurple rated it it was amazing
Anyone interested in war and the after effects on the people who fought in it should check out Night Dogs and the book that preceded it, Sympathy for the Devil Author Kent Anderson fought in Vietnam and became a police offer afterwards, and the books seem to mirror his personal experiences. Both books are excellent, and I think they should be required reading for people considering war as a profession.
Jan 12, 2014 Hugh rated it it was amazing
Haunting type of cop novel, it's dark, disturbing and involving.
Nov 05, 2007 Vaughan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people I love and respect
This is my favorite crime/cop book ever. All of Kent Anderson's books are great, but this is the king-dilly. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it yet again. The main character, Hanson, is a Portland cop teetering on the brink of....something bad. Vietnam vet, now on the streets, 1970s style. Just read it.
Read up to page 169. Too gritty for me. Thought I could handle it until they started talking about the 'dog lab'. Also, the author's writing was hard to read. Found myself having to reread passaged to understand what was going on. I'm sure his style is intentional... just takes getting used to.
Jan 23, 2009 Travis rated it liked it
Had some poetic descriptions. I got disappointed with the guy who wants to kill the main character, but who doesn't have much motive, and then the guy who has all this motive, but doesn't do anything. If he can connected these two themes, then the book could have been so much more.
Evan Thomas
Jan 02, 2013 Evan Thomas rated it it was amazing
Far and away the best police procedural I've read. This book is absolutely gripping and never lets go until just before the ending. Honestly, I don't know if I was upset because of the ending, the weakest part and the most cliche, or upset because the book was ending.
May 10, 2009 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Extremely well written. A story about a cop who is a Vietnam vet. It's a well-done character study, not a Hollywood or heroic type cop story or a mystery story. Just a story that follows a cop on the job. It feels very authentic, both the cop part and vietnam part.
Ken Kelsch
Jun 06, 2013 Ken Kelsch rated it it was amazing
Even better (if possible) than Sympathy for the Devil. I wanted to buy lots of copies and hand them out to people so they might just get some small part of me. I wish he'd finally finish the third Hanson tome.
Feb 07, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I had mixed feelings about the narrative of this story. But the main character, Hanson, a troubled Vietnam vet trying to hold it together in a landscape of violence and despair, is reason alone to read this book.
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Ordinary Seaman (deck hand) on merchant ships age 19-21.
Special Forces (Green Beret) Sgt. in Vietnam, 1969-1970, 2 Bronze Stars.
Police Officer, Portland, OR. Police Bureau, 1972-1976.
NEA Grant for Fiction Writing, 1976 #1.
MFA in Fiction Writing, University of Montana, 1978.
Police Officer, Oakland California Police Dept. 1983-1984, resigned after 15 months to write Sympathy for the Devil
More about Kent Anderson...

Other Books in the Series

Hanson (2 books)
  • Sympathy for the Devil

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