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BIRD DOG by Philip Reed


by Philip Reed

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-671-00163-9
Publisher: Pocket

 If Elmore Leonard wrote about California car salesmen, he'd produce something like this fast and funny first novel. Marianna Perado, a Guatemalan secretary at Aerodyne, is sure she's been taken to the cleaners by smooth-talking Vito Fiorre at Joe Covo's Matsura dealership. She wants her 1982 Escort back, and since Vito doesn't look like he's about to cave in, she goes for help to Aerodyne engineer Harold Dodge, who once wrote How to Buy a Cream Puff but now spends his time taking long lunch hours and squeezing a therapy ball in his pocket to reduce tension. But Vito brushes Harold off with empty promises, and when Marianna goes back to pick up the Escort, Vito tells her it's gone, sold, out of the picture. It isn't, of course; it's sitting in his daughter's driveway, and when Marianna, returning from a date she's decoyed Vito into, sees it, she grabs it, along with some paperwork that could prove very embarrassing not only to Vito but to Joe Covo and Joe's national suppliers, if the Division of Motor Vehicles ever looked into it. Now Marianna's private feud with Vito--think of Laurel and Hardy molded together as a Latina sexpot--explodes into a full-scale war. It's not just Vito who's after Marianna (he's already repo'd the Escort, but hasn't got the little black book), but Covo, the big boys from back east, and their hired guns. And she's not the only one they're looking for: Harold Dodge is slowly making his way to the top of their list. Can things get any worse for good-Samaritan Harold? Not unless he runs afoul of the LAPD because of the dead body in his trunk--a body that's not even the body he thinks it is. (Harold's thoughtful rumination on this last problem: ``No one deserved to die like this. Not even a car salesman.'') A high-speed bagatelle game that uses car salesmen for balls.