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Levison, Iain - 'Dog Eats Dog'
Paperback: 288 pages (May 2008) Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press ISBN: 1904738311

DOG EATS DOG by Iain Levison is a stylish noir thriller set in the United States. This book has had a rather unusual route to its UK publication being first published in translation in France, before being picked up by Bitter Lemon Press and published in English.

As the story unfolds we see events from the differing perspectives of each of the three main characters: intelligent southern criminal on the run Dixon; unscrupulous and overweeningly ambitious small town college professor Elias White and capable but disillusioned FBI officer Denise Lupo. Following a botched bank robbery, Dixon flees up north nursing a gunshot wound, fetching up in Tiburn, a New Hampshire college town. When he spies a middle aged man, professor Elias White, sleeping with a teenaged schoolgirl, he uses this as leverage to blackmail the professor into housing and feeding him whilst he recovers from his injury. Meanwhile FBI officer Denise Lupo is on Dixon's trail, and travels up to Tiburn to investigate, more out of boredom in her office job than any firm conviction she will still find Dixon there.

As we learn more about Elias White and what makes him tick (as the book opens, he is hoping that stolen German wartime diaries will make his academic reputation with an article with a hook-line of "Was Hitler Right?") and learn more about Dixon's earlier life and first unjust conviction and imprisonment, you start wonder which one is the greater sociopath and danger to society. The characterisation of Denise Lupo is less dramatic; she is more of an everyday joe - feisty and fundamentally well-intentioned, but lassitude and a taste for pleasure lead her into trouble.

In addition to crisp dialogue, convincing characterisation, and tight plotting, the author places his sharp satirical gaze upon the great American public institutions - academia, law enforcement, probation and local politics to great effect. DOG EATS DOG is an excellent thriller and a highly entertaining read.

Laura Root, England
September 2008

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 27/09/2008 14:11