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  • Reviews for Dog Eats Dog by Iain Levison
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Reviews for Dog Eats Dog by Iain Levison
'In New Jersey Phil Dixon thought the bank robbery would go over smooth so how he wonders why did it go so wrong. He flees the Garden State with a bullet wound and no cash heading towards Canada with aspirations of becoming a farmer. However, his wound is very severe so he is forced to stop in Tiburn, New Hampshire. Phil peaks inside a window of a home to see a thirty something geek rolling on the floor with a teen who's probably was still in high school. A desperate Phil forces the home owner history professor Elias White to provide him a haven or face exposure, censorship, and perhaps criminal charges. White agrees, but sees the hostage situation as a chance to enhance his floundering career. Meanwhile cynical FBI agent Denise Lupo volunteers to follow a nebulous clue to Dixon's whereabouts in some small New England college town. DOG EATS DOG is a humorous satirical crime thriller in which key traits of the three main characters are purposely exaggerated so that the audience can compare them when their odd triangle forms. Street and prison savvy Dixon pretends to be the hardened criminal to hide his shortcomings; White is a pompous professor who uses his superego to hide his shortcomings; Lupo is the burned out cop who uses cynicism to hide her shortcomings. Readers will appreciate when they merge in Tiburn.' - Genre Go Round
'I haven't read many academic mysteries, but I always had the idea that they constituted a pretty genteel genre. Not so Iain Levison's Dog Eat Dog (though to be fair, the book is more a caper novel than an academic one). Levison's chief target is his co-protagonist Elias White, an ambitious schemer who has calculated that his road to academic stardom lies in being seen as a Nazi apologist:
"Elias also wanted the article to be posted on White Supremacist websites, so he could argue furiously against its misinterpretation by evil people with a harmful agenda. This kind of conflict usually resulted in the most prized of all commodities, news coverage."
But Elias was nothing compared with his father, a feckless fraud whose "God-given ability to slither around unnoticed was rewarded each year with a fatter paycheck and a slimmer workload, until, after forty years of teaching, he found himself collecting nearly $100,000 for teaching one class a semester."
I'd say Levison is even harder on academia than that other acid-tongued crime writer/professor, Amanda Cross.'
- Detectivesbeyondborders
'Iain Levison's Dog Eats Dog is an odd little book, halfway between a caper and a satire. Dixon is a bank robber on the run who needs somewhere to rest while his wounds heal.
He's delighted to see, through a living-room window in a small New Hampshire town, a college professor having sex with a teenage girl. One bit of blackmail later and Professor White has a secret lodger.
The third player in what will become a kind of strange, unfinished triangle is FBI agent Lupo, who's on the verge of quitting her job because she's finally realised that women aren't welcome in the bureau.
All three are dreaming of a complete change in the direction of their lives and all three are going to get one, one way or another. Levison's targets include many of modern US capitalism's sillier manifestations and, although the comic attack is mild enough in nature, this highly readable novel makes its points. The only thing stopping it from being classed as "literary crime" is a complete lack of pomposity or pretentiousness.'
- Morning Star
'Philip Dixon is down on his luck. A hair-raising escape from a lucrative, but botched, bank robbery lands him bleeding and on the verge of collapse in a small New Hampshire college town. He needs somewhere to hide out until his gunshot wound heals. Peering into the window of the nearest house, he finds the perfect place. In the living room a man in his mid-30s is in a clinch with a high school girl... and Dixon sees an opportunity for blackmail. Professor Elias White is forced into harbouring the dangerous fugitive, with $250,000 in his bag, in return for keeping secret his affair with his next-door neighbour's teenage daughter. The terrified professor must get medical treatment for his unwanted guest, while disillusioned FBI agent Denise Lupo stumbles ever closer to her prey. Scottish-born author Iain Levison, who moved to the US as a child, has a large cult following in his adopted homeland and France, but this is the first time he has been published in the UK. Dog Eats Dog is punchy and witty, the sort of book we might expect from Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard, with enjoyable characters and a highly satisfactory ending. Surely, it's only a matter of time before more of his work gets an airing over here.' - Ilford Recorder
'Out of luck and on the run from a bank robbery, Philip Dixon is injured and desperate in a small New Hampshire town when he bursts in on college professor Elias White who's in the throws of passion with a teenage student. Dixon needs to get out of town with the small fortune he's stolen and blackmails White into helping him evade the FBI. But there's a sting in this thriller tale.' - Peterborough Evening Telegraph
'Dog Eats Dog has itself got a history almost as good as the most convoluted murder mystery. The author, Iain Levison, was born in Scotland but emigrated to the USA; then returned to the UK in order to join the British Army, where he served in Peru! Now back living in America, after a spell has a crab fisherman in Alaska, he wrote his first crime novel which found a publisher in France and now appears in Britain for the first time - in translation! Whatever tortuous route it took to get here, however, Dog Eats Dog was worth waiting for, with a plot which kicks off with a bank robbery gone wrong that is worthy of comparison with Elmore Leonard. This is a sharp, smart, pistol-crack of a book which moves at a terrific pace and has three very well drawn central characters, none of whom you are sure you can trust.The much travelled author, Iain Levinson is already a cult crime writer in America and France and certainly deserves to be one in his country of origin.' - Birmingham Post
'Iain Levison's Dog Eats Dog is clever in a different way, pitting a fugitive bank robber against a history professor in a college town in New Hampshire. Philip Dixon is on the run when he peers through a window and sees Elias White, an academic in his thirties, having sex on the floor with his neighbour's teenage daughter. Dixon takes this as a sign that his luck has changed and blackmails White into sheltering him while he recovers from a gunshot wound. White is ambitious and frustrated, trying to make his name with a controversial paper about the Nazis, and he adapts with surprising ease to having a desperate man in his basement. This novel by a Scottish author who now lives in America is funny and acerbic, and crackles with raw energy.' - Sunday Times
'Iain Levison's central anti-hero in the gripping Dog Eats Dog is a clever but usually unsuccessful bank robber who leaves from his latest escapade with a lot of money and a nasty bullet wound from the gun of a copper. Desperately seeking shelter, Phil Dixon reaches a small university town where he chances to see a man having sex with an underage girl. He turns out to be Elias White, a lazy, greedy, ambitious history professor in his thirties, she a 15-year old neighbour.
Dixon confronts him with a proposal he cannot refuse. The professor will allow the robber to stay in his house until he recovers from his injury; in return, Dixon will keep quiet about the criminal act he saw White committing. Adding to the tense twosome, the FBI is on Dixon's trail, having traced some of the stolen banknotes to the town. Agent Denise Lupo is sent to investigate. The lives of the three principal characters interact in the best traditions of American noir - fast action, taut dialogue, moral ambivalence, bleak emotions and cynical humour.
Two small asides. Curiously, Dog Eats Dog was first published in France in 2006, in translation, and only now reaches us in its original English. And it's the first novel I've read where the principal clue is someone saying the word "up " rather than "down ". - The Times
'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.'
- Eurocrime
'Dog Eats Dog, a new novel by Iain Levison from Bitter Lemon Press, defies conventions in a number of ways. Levison, a Scot, moved to the U.S. and after working around the country now lives in North Carolina. This novel, though, was first published in France, as Une canaille et demie. The novel is part Elmore Leonard (a laconic style and off-hand, comic plotting and character development), part Donald Westlake (hopelessly botched bank robbery), and part Don Delillo (college professor wants to make his name as a sort of Hitler apologist, a device used by Delillo to great effect in White Noise). A female FBI agent is on the trail of the escaped bank robber, who has holed up in the college professor's house. Stated bluntly, it almost sounds like a Key Largo, Cape Fear kind of thing, but Levison manipulates this well-worn territory in his own unique way. At every turn, expectations are overturned. For example, the FBI agent is fed clue after clue by the narrator, but she's in the middle of a mid-life (and professional) crisis and the normal progress of the thriller plot, along the line of those clues, is nullified. The professor both fears and admires the thief, not something unusual in these sorts of plots, but the inevitable confrontation doesn't happen the way you might expect. The conclusion doesn't either, the characters each coming to a resolution in unexpected ways. There are a couple of flaws, particularly in the way academic publications or .45 automatics work, but overall Dog Eats Dog is funny, breezy, and effective.' - Internationalnoir.blogspot.com
'Phil Dixon, on the run after his latest bank robbery, desperately needs a place to stay. When he spots young college professor Elias White naked with his clearly underage neighbor, Dixon knows he's in, and he really, really wants to be in. He's determined to get out of his criminal lifestyle with this money, but he has to recover from his gun wound first. What Dixon doesn't expect is just how well that lifestyle will click with Elias, and this unexpected encounter leads to some unlikely consequences for both parties, especially when FBI Agent Denise Lupo comes to town, hunting Dixon down.I didn't expect that this book would be hilarious, but it often is. It adds in little touches of sarcasm on nearly every page, sardonic commentary on the way we live. This is at its heart a critical look at our world - everyone is out for themselves, and the best men (or women) win no matter what it takes. I was expecting a mystery, but I got so much more out of this. It's a great story with a message. I enjoyed it throughout and the plot consistently surprised me as I found I was misled and turned just slightly off track so that Levinson could really deliver his message. In Levinson's world, you just have to be clever and wily to get by - not smart or hard-working. It's a depressing theory, but he delivers it in such a way that you don't mind. You're too busy having fun, and only when the book ends do you ponder this deeper message. Or so it went for me.This is a really entertaining book with a more fundamental level of meaning. I read it in a day. I'd recommend it to anyone seeking a quick, satirical read.' - Medieval Bookworm
'Bank robber Philip Dixon gets more than he bargained for when he spots US college lecturer Elias White having sex with a student. Blackmailed into becoming an accomplice, Prof Elias finds his true vocation. This cult thriller could be a joke present for an academic with a sense of humour.' - The Oxford Times
'Robber Phil Dixon has been wounded in a botched-up bank raid. He is making for Canada but ends up in Tiburn, New Hampshire. Looking for a place to lie low while he recovers, he stumbles across Professor Elias White in a compromising situation with an underage student and persuades White to harbour him. Meanwhile FBI agent Denise Lupo, keen to prove that she's smarter than everyone seems to think, is following the trail that leads to Tiburn.
It's been some time since I read a book that made me laugh out loud (hardly surprising given my usual reading matter) but this one did. The interplay between Dixon and White, White and Lupo is brilliant and the pages fair crackle with cynical humour. The story ends with the line: "everything has worked out well for everybody " which of course it hasn't; but as we all know, crime often does pay but usually for the wrong person. Highly entertaining!'
- Offmytrolley.com
'A talented writer has produced an enthralling crime novel. Fiendish suspense but also a wonderful settlement of scores with American society.' - Lire Magazine
'When a teacher goes too far with a student, consequences are to be expected. And sometimes they aren't what one would expect. "Dog Eat Dog" follows bank robber Dixon as he flees to a quiet town in New England where he finds a Professor White with a high school student. Using his savvy and lack of morality, he blackmails White into doing his bidding, including hiding him from the cops. Dixon thinks he's safe for now and enjoyed several hundred thousand for his hard work, but a certain FBI agent won't give up and Professor White isn't as dense as he seems. "Dog Eat Dog" is an original and creative thriller, sure to please readers who want a story of intrigue and suspense.' - MBR (Midwest Book Review)
'Dixon is a bright, thoughtful recidivist who ruminates on the karmic impact of pointing his gun at people. He escapes a disastrously failed bank robbery in New Jersey with $250,000 in cash and a bullet wound, and he winds up near collapse outside the small-town New Hampshire home of history professor Elias White. More huckster than scholar or teacher, White is canoodling with a naked teenager when Dixon looks in the window. As soon as White is alone, Dixon enters and begins to turn his hostage into his accomplice. FBI Agent Denise Lupo, her hopes of becoming a profiler crushed in the male-dominated agency, learns that one of the stolen bills has surfaced in New Hampshire, and she sets off to find the robber. Levison's first novel, following the nonfiction success of A Working Stiff's Manifesto (2002), is a delightfully amiable and cynical tale. It's filled with droll humor, finely wrought characters, a brisk pace, and sharp dialogue.' - Booklist
'Ex-con Philip Dixon knew the bank heist was doomed to failure from the start, that's why he had a fallback plan, independent from his bungling associates. What he hadn't counted on was getting shot, covered in gas and being spotted by state troopers early in the game. A chance opportunity delivered Dixon to a small New Hampshire college town where a bit of window peeping revealed a middle-aged man's indiscretion with a high school girl. Dixon uses that information to blackmail Professor Elias White into keeping him hidden for two weeks. Of course the bagful of money Dixon grabbed in the bank robbery helped ease a few of White's moral qualms. Underappreciated FBI agent Denise Lupo has been assigned to the bank robbery case and as the trail leads her north, ends up closer to the suspect then she knew. As for the ambitious Professor White, he's a quick study, taking advantage of every opportunity to the point where one has to wonder who the real criminal is. Large on wit, stark emotion and clever dialog, Levison delivers a taut crime story that will leave readers questioning where the real criminals are.'
- Monsters and critics.com
'First published in France a few years ago, Bitter Lemon Press finally makes this darkly comic gem available in English. When a bank robber, bleeding profusely from his last and very botched job, lands in a sleepy New Hampshire college town, disaster is pretty much inevitable. Never is that more true than for Elias White, roped into being the robber's accomplice as a result of an ill-fated dalliance glimpsed through an open window, and for FBI agent Denise Lupo, whose ability is less dogged and more fragmented. Levison nails the academic atmosphere and its jarring juxtaposition with the criminal underworld, but most of all he's clearly having fun with his given premise.' - Sarahweinman.com
'Iain Levison proves he's no slouch as a new crime fiction writer; "Dog Eats Dog" is an intriguing, taut crime novel. Philip Dixon, an ex-con, gets involved in a New Jersey bank robbery and escapes with almost a quarter million dollars. He steals a car and ends up in a small town in New Hampshire, with grander plans of becoming a farmer in Canada. Seeking temporary refuge, Dixon observes college professor Elias White making love to a pretty high school student at White's house. Later that night, Dixon barges in, holds White captive and blackmails him into assistance. Frustrated FBI agent Denise Lupo is on Dixon's trail; assorted complications alter everyone's lives. Levison successfully contrasts dreamers and schemers in his intriguing, exceptionally enjoyable tale, deftly combining realism and dark humor.' - Lansing State Journal
'When wounded bank robber Phil Dixon flees a botched holdup in New Jersey at the start of this entertaining crime novel from Levison (Working Stiff's Manifesto), he winds up at the Tiburn, N.H., home of Elias White, a history professor whose academic aspirations far outmatch his abilities. Dixon intimidates White into sheltering him until he's ready to escape to Canada, where he plans to start a new life as a farmer. White, meanwhile, sees opportunities to further his career in the situation. Later, FBI agent Denise Lupo, eager for an excuse to leave her dead-end New York City job for a couple of days, follows a slim clue that points to Dixon's presence in New Hampshire. The prison-schooled Dixon, the pretentious White and Lupo with her shattered idealism give the author ample scope to nail a lot of targets. Not only does Levison score high on the satirical scale, he manages some ingenious plot shifts that should provoke both appreciative smiles and laughter.' - Publishers Weekly
"A new novel of social satire and fiendish suspense" - that's probably the most accurate blurb I've seen recently for a book. DOG EATS DOG is definitely satiric, fiendish and suspenseful. I loved it. Here's the situation - Philip Dixon, whose been known to dabble in crime here and there and been in jail as a result, is down on his luck and decides to participate in a bank robbery in New Jersey with a group that he views as less than competent. Fortunately for him, he sees exactly when the heist is going awry and manages to escape before the police arrive. Dixon is a very intelligent man, and he's learned from all the mistakes he's made in the past. He steals the bank manager's car, swaps that for another vehicle and ends up in the crawlspace behind a truck driver's seat; but not before getting shot. After a long, uncomfortable ride, he finds himself in a laconic college town in New Hampshire. He needs a place to stay; and for once, luck is with him. While sneaking around peering in people's windows, he sees a man having sex with a teenager. When he threatens to squeal on Professor Elias White, White agrees that Dixon can share his home for a few weeks until Dixon's wounds heal and he can finalize preparations for a final move to Canada, where he is planning to become a farmer.
FBI agent Denise Lupo, who is assigned to the very unexciting job of looking at financial transactions arising from bank robberies, suspects that Dixon is either in Kansas or New Hampshire, which is where the money, bloodied by his wounds, has turned up. Although Denise is an intelligent woman with good instincts, she has been relegated to a dead-end job based on the sexist attitudes of her superiors. She brings a new agent along with her to New Hampshire; "Wonder Boy" Kohl will surely be sitting in a corner office soon while Lupo continues to languish. So we have a pretentious and ambitious academic, a disenfranchised FBI agent and a clever criminal just ready to explode into action. Dixon turns out to be remarkably civilized; the professor finds himself enjoying his company. Meanwhile, Denise is letting loose in ways that end up scaring herself. What happens to these three characters is a wild and funny ride indeed, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. The way that the plot unfolds is ingenious and unpredictable but entirely credible. Each of the three central characters were well drawn; their situations were laced with sardonic cynicism and the pace of the book crackled.
DOG EATS DOG was a page turner for me. It kept a smile on my face while surprising me all along the way. As far as I'm concerned, Levison did everything right and has created a real and unique winner.' - I love a mystery.com
'Dog Eats Dog is an apt title for a story that is almost a modern day parable of moral ambivalence. From the intelligent ex-con who has a better plan than the rest of the gang and gets away from the bank heist with all the money to the college professor who buries a body in his garden and ends up running for senator, this tale is full of people on the make. During the aftermath of the robbery, it becomes clear that life has been unfair to ex-con Philip Dixon, who outwits the chasing police and ends up alive, though gushing with blood from a bullet wound, at a quiet New Hampshire college town. A place to hide presents itself when he looks through a window and sees college professor Elias White rolling around the floor with a young high school student. Blackmailing the professor into hiding him until the wound heals, Dixon plans a new life in Canada. Elias White is persuaded to fetch a nurse from the school to treat Dixon. The nurse is paid a hefty sum but told not to spend it for a week. Naturally, she immediately books a ticket at the local travel agent to get away from her husband and the FBI are alerted that the stolen money has been used. Disillusioned FBI agent Denise Lupo picks up the trail and comes within a hair's breadth of Dixon. The end is unexpected, abrupt and left a bitter taste.
Iain Levison was born in Aberdeen but has lived most of his life in the US where he has worked in a variety of jobs. Dog Eats Dog was first published in France where he something of a following.' - Aberdeen Press and Journal
'In New Jersey Phil Dixon thought the bank robbery would go over smooth so how he wonders why it went so wrong. He flees the Garden State with a bullet wound and no cash heading towards Canada with aspirations of becoming a farmer. However, his wound is very severe so he is forced to stop in Tiburn, New Hampshire. Phil peaks inside a window of a home to see a thirty something geek rolling on the floor with a teen who's probably was still in high school. A desperate Phil forces the home owner history professor Elias White to provide him a haven or face exposure, censorship, and perhaps criminal charges. White agrees, but sees the hostage situation as a chance to enhance his floundering career. Meanwhile cynical FBI agent Denise Lupo volunteers to follow a nebulous clue to Dixon's whereabouts in some small New England college town. DOG EATS DOG is a humorous satirical crime thriller in which key traits of the three main characters are purposely exaggerated so that the audience can compare them when their odd triangle forms. Street and prison savvy Dixon pretends to be the hardened criminal to hide his shortcomings; White is a pompous professor who uses his superego to hide his shortcomings; Lupo is the burned out cop who uses cynicism to hide her shortcomings. Readers will appreciate when they merge in Tiburn.' - MBR Bookwatch
'British noir (if I can claim this novel for the home team) is on something of a roll at the moment: Charlie Williams, Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, Mick Scully. Now, out of left-field, comes Aberdonian Iain Levison, currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina. First published in France (where they know a thing or two about noir) and now cannily snapped up by Bitter Lemon, this is his second novel and it's a knockout.
Elias White is a junior college professor in a quiet New Hampshire town. Whilst scoping out the local talent in a German library when on a field trip, he has accidentally come across some "cool " discarded anti-semitic war-time German diaries, handily translated into English. And already he has mapped out a celebrity future in which the resulting treatise is picked up on far-right websites, and argued over on CNN and popular talk shows.
Elias is on the make in other ways too, notably with his more attractive female students, chief amongst which is the teenage Melissa, daughter of his next-door neighbour. Meanwhile an occasional whiff of gasoline though the open window of the room where he is frolicking with Melissa, is about to alert Elias to the existence of Dixon, on-the-run bank robber, injured, doused in gasoline (read the book!), and clutching a black laundry bag containing a quarter of a million from his last job.
A classic duel ensues as Dixon and Elias edge around each other, each pushing at the other's boundaries usually with surprising results. It's more school of Elmore Leonard than the more downbeat style of those I've mentioned above. But you can't help but be impressed by Levison's lively, pointed prose, his unerring feel for character, not to mention his confident pacing, whilst at the same time, incorporating, seemingly effortlessly, always relevant back-story.
Then Levison introduces a third key character: disillusioned FBI Agent Denise Lupo, smarter than the average male of the species, and hitting her head on that organisation's glass ceiling, and on the track of money from the robbery. It's another spot-on portrait that adds considerable delight to the reader's involvement in the story. Meanwhile that back-story (as well as events in the present) gives Levison the chance, gleefully and often hilariously taken, to paint a pungent and often caustic picture of his adopted society. The ending might strike you as a little less noir than you'd like - until you think it through.
Delicious. Don't miss.' - Tangled Web
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