While reading the new graphic novel Filthy Rich by Brian Azzarello and artist Victor Santos, a story in which the protagonist works for a car dealership, I was reminded of Bird Dog, the first “Car Noir Thriller” by Philip Reed featuring Harold Dodge. Reed would only write two Dodge novels (the other being Low Rider) before…well, I dunno what the fuck happened to him. Whatever the reasons may be, it’s a fucking shame he’s no longer cranking out kick ass crime novels anymore because I think the motherfucker could no shit hold his own with some of the nasty boys and girls of noir today.
Bird Dog starts out with middle-aged nobody Harold Dodge being asked by a sexy co-worker to help her get her trade-in back from the shithole LA dealership that sold her a true lemon. You see, it’s known around the office that in a past life Dodge used to “bird dog” for a dealership, hell he even wrote a book on how not to get robbed, got published and everything. Seeing how a good-looking young thing like Marianna wouldn’t give a guy like Harold a second glance in a normal situation, Harold comes to her rescue toot-fucking-sweet. But sure enough, things don’t go well with slimy salesman Vito Fiorre at Joe Covo Matsura and next thing you know Dodge ends up with a body in the trunk…
Though you initially think you’re entering into some sort of off-beat private eye series, Bird Dog turns out to be more of an Elmore Leonard-style crime novel, only with more graphic sex and violence (which, come to think of it, is what most of the best crime novels of the nineties were like. There’s a paper there somewhere...). In other words, you have your sharp prose, your dead-on dialogue, cool good guys, funny bad guys, and a zippy pace. Good time had by fucking all, right?
That’d certainly be enough to get my vote, but Bird Dog takes shit in slightly sicker, more noir-than-merely-hard-boiled direction later in the book. Naturally, I don’t want to spoil shit for you, but to put it in movie terms, this shit gets more Blood Simple than Get Shorty, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, see more films, you fucking elitist.
If I don’t have your interest yet, I honestly don’t know what the fuck to say to you, aside from hit the supermarket and snatch up a Grisham when buying your fucking white bread. But if you need just a little bit more of a push, let me say that there’s plenty of great car salesman lore and car porn in this beast too, not to mention a fantastic sense of place for its LA locations.
There you go, there’s your fucking icing on the awesome cake. So go and get yourself some Bird Dog, then some Low Rider, then join me in mourning the death of the Harold Dodge Car Noir Thriller series.