Bad Dog

John Philpin, Author
John Philpin. GenPop (Itasca, dist.), $16 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-0-9823594-5-7
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
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Criminal profiler and psychologist Philpin (The Murder Channel) disappoints in this mystery that’s less about crime and more about politics. In what his publisher calls both an “autobiographical” fiction and a “fictional memoir,” Philpin’s unnamed narrator is an aging, paranoid, antiwar, antiestablishment recluse hiding out in Vermont in 2007 (“I left the larger world in the late 1960s,” he says). Complaints about political and moral corruption, past and present, abound when the narrator isn’t lost in recollection of the heady Vietnam era, when he was a draft dodger with Canada in his sights. In Vermont, when doing someone a favor, he stumbles upon the scene of a double murder and the apparent kidnapping of a teenage girl, and impulsively takes two crucial pieces of evidence. Through an unconvincing series of convenient links he comes to uncover a group of drug-addled Vietnam vets whose wartime criminal activity in Saigon has destroyed some and driven others to greater desperation. As our amateur sleuth crosses country and globe (who’s paying for all this travel?), he uncovers the teenager’s fate and the story behind Saigon. A promising premise is greatly diluted by numerous distracting screeds about everything that is wrong with the world. Agent: Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency. (Jan.)
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