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|Print List Price:||£7.99|
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Barking Dogs - A Mitch Helwig Book Kindle Edition
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
More central to the story than hovering cars and baboon hearts is the barking dog. It isn't a canine. In fact there was no canine in the book at all. The barking dog is a piece of technology. You wear it. The barking dog watches a person's face and monitors it. The barking dog can tell if the person is telling the truth or telling a lie. The author mentions that the technology works by watching involuntary facial tics.
Mitch is a police officer whose partner was recently murdered. He bought barking dog. What Mitch does with his barking dog, and subsequent technological purchases, is the story.
If you like science fiction futures, this is a good read. And, even though the "science fiction" technologies were discussed in 1988, none of them have really come to be. They're still science-fiction. The story is holds up.
My biggest problem with the book is that all the characters seem to think the same. Instead of a little girl thinking little girl, with little girl words and little girl ideas, her inner dialogue comes across very similar to Mitch's. And Mitch's wife comes across similar to Mitch.
Also very important: This publisher doesn't have DRM on their e-books. Yeah! You can read it on your Kindle, Sony, or toaster.
Green tells Helwig's tired story in cliché-ridden prose. The action scenes are dull. The novel's sex scenes would read like a contribution to Penthouse Forum except that they're written with less literary style. Green presents a stereotypically simplistic view of a criminal justice system where "slimeball" lawyers exploit the mistakes of honest law enforcement officers to allow criminals to run free. To create sympathy for Helwig's cause, Green invents a gangster outlaw who is a veritable cartoon: his diversified criminal enterprise includes a warehouse that stores five tons of cocaine and hundreds of laser guns; he makes snuff films and then sells the victims' body parts on the black market; and, of course, he traffics in children and makes child porn. The reader is apparently to conclude that it's fine for Helwig to kill this mythical fiend and to cause enough property destruction to keep Toronto's fire department working overtime. Really, the whole thing is silly, unimaginative, and not written well enough to work either as science fiction or as a thriller. I would recommend this only for die-hard fans of vigilante fiction.
It takes place in near-future Toronto. Police still use .38 specials, but hand-held repeating laser pistols are readily available. These and the titular "barking dog" are almost the only technical advances that are mentioned. Surely the technical advances that led to such devices would have had other applications, but if so they aren't evident in Toronto.
The central invention of the book is the "barking dog", a small portable computer that allows one to detect spoken lies and half truths with absolute reliability. This premise has some promise, but that promise is left almost entirely unexplored until the last few pages, which barely touch on the consequences of such a device. Apparently anyone can buy a barking dog for a third the price of a small car, but almost nobody has one, even police investigators. So what we see is vigilante cop Mitch making use of the device to identify criminals, but no consideration of the effects on society of having all lies easily detected.
Much of the story is explained through dialog, which I found well written but verbose. I skimmed many pages of banter that seemed irrelevant to the plot. Similarly, the book includes explicit sex scenes that do nothing to advance to plot or enrich the characterizations.
I assign two stars instead of one because the book was written in 1988, at which time the barking dog must have been a remarkably futuristic idea. Unfortunately this book falls very short of expanding that idea into an engrossing novel.
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