Sleeping Dog

Sleeping Dog

by Dick Lochte


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A New York Times Book of the Year, A Nero Wolfe Award Winner
An Edgar Award Finalist, A Shamus Award Finalist and an Anthony Award Finalist
Named by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century.

This beloved, comedy-noir thriller teams up Leo Bloodworth, a hard-drinking, middle-aged Los Angeles PI with hypertension and a low tolerance for precious teenagers, with Serendipity Dahlquist, a bright and strong-willed roller-blading 14-year-old searching for her lost dog. But things quickly escalate, plunging the oddest of odd couples into the dark underworld of sunny Southern California and pitting them against one of the biggest, and most brutal, organized crime families in Mexico.

"Outclasses, in many ways, the tales of Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald and other renowned California mystery writers." Publishers Weekly

"Dick Lochte is a superb craftsman." Sue Grafton

“Sleeping Dog is funny and strong and a joy to read." Robert B. Parker

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941298091
Publisher: Brash Books LLC
Publication date: 06/11/2014
Pages: 346
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

The Nero Wolfe Award Winner, Shamus Award Nominee, Edgar Award Nominee
Author of a New York Times Book of the Year, author of one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century chosen by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association

Dick Lochte burst onto the crime-writing scene with Sleeping Dog and has continued to take the genre by storm ever since, becoming a Los Angeles Times bestselling author of 10 books of crime fiction and earning the highest honors a writer can attain in the mystery genre.

Sleeping Dog chronicles the adventures of a precocious 14-year-old girl and a weary Los Angeles private detective as they search for the girl's mother across California. It has become one of the most acclaimed crime novels ever. Lochte's detective masterpiece was nominated for the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony Awards and took home the Nero Wolfe Award. It was also named a New York Times a "Notable Book of the Year" and was selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers of America as one of the 100 Most Popular Mystery Novels of the Century. Fans and critics alike were equally excited and impressed by the thrilling sequel, Laughing Dog. Both novels are published by Brash Books, along with his terrific short story Rappin' Dog.

Lochte's many other popular crime novels, including his Terry Manion series and his Billy Blessing mysteries written with Al Roker, are every bit as masterful. His novel Blue In the Night was named one of the top five crime novels of the year by the Private Eye Writers of America.

He's not just a crime fiction author, either. Lochte is also a successful screenwriter, penning scripts for actors like Jodie Foster and Roger Moore, and he is a highly respected mystery critic and historian, whose many reviews and commentaries have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Mystery Scene, and other publications. Be sure to look for his insightful commentary and reviews on the Brash Books blog.

Read an Excerpt

Sleeping Dog

By Dick Lochte

Brash Books, LLC

Copyright © 2014 Dick Lochte
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-941298-09-1


(Beginning: DOG DAYS: A Personal Account of the Kaspar-Helmdale Slayings. By Serendipity Renn Dahlquist)

The following appeared in somewhat different form in the pages of the Bay High Guardian, considered by many to be the leading high-school newspaper in the Greater Los Angeles area. And yet, regardless of the Guardian's heralded integrity, its faculty advisers went soft as grapes when it came to the story's more ghoulish aspects — descriptions of the corpses and the like — as well as the admittedly gross little detours the case took. The dogfight atrocities, for example, and the brush with the Mexican Mafia and the really depraved stuff that the noble and gallant Mr. Leo Bloodworth, master detective, endured on my behalf.

On one hand, I am most proud to be the only sophomore woman — no, make that the only sophomore, period — to have had anything printed in the Guardian this past year. On the other, having been hugely influenced by Mrs. Ida Sperling's lecture, "Journalism: The Truth Shall Make Us Free," and then having witnessed that same Mrs. Sperling edit significant passages from my original manuscript, every word as true as gospel, all I can say is that this writing business must be filled with continuous heartbreak. In any case, I dedicate this, my first book, to my beloved grandmother, known to her many fans as Aunt Lil Fairchild.


Bay Heights, California

1. My last day as a hopeless junior-high-school worm was marked with merde. Veritably mottled with merde. Someone stole my slam book. (Even now, nearly a year and a half later, I remain unconvinced that I simply misplaced it!) Then, Sylvia Leonidas, my supposedly best friend, with whom and with whose parents I had planned on motoring through the great Northwest, dropped the bomb that she had managed to get herself with child, thanks to some George person. Not a Bay Heights boy, more's the pity, for I have it on good authority that their narcotic consumption has rendered them 99 44/100 percent impotent. In any case, it's difficult to imagine a woman in her mid-teens, even one as admittedly backward as Sylvia, failing to take steps to avoid the possibility of conception. And George was almost college age, for heaven's sake. Because of their sexual ignorance and lack of self-control, the trip through the great Northwest was off.

Piling grief upon grief, Mr. Madill, whom I cannot abide as either a teacher or a representative of the human race, gave me a C+ in "Functions and Limits" and would not budge on it, though I humbled myself before his table in the faculty lounge, begging for a B-. And then — would it never end? — Greg Stillman, a Pacifica High senior with serious blue eyes who'd asked me to a junior-senior thing at Carbon Beach, got so stoned after his Physics final that he fell into the Pacifica swimming pool while it was drained and broke his leg in two places.

Accepting the fact that this was destined to be my dies irae, I skated home as quickly and carefully as possible to discover that the door to the apartment had been left open and that my beloved little bullterrier, Groucho, was missing. Not only was he my lifelong companion, he had been a gift from my father, the only link to a man who had gone away thirteen years before to meet his fate in a seemingly senseless war. Frantically, I rushed through the apartment — my bedroom; grandmother's; the guest room, where mother stayed when she was in town without male companionship (which was seldom); the bathrooms; the living room, where Groucho often hid under the tufted couch; the dining area and the kitchen.

It took the usual ten or fifteen minutes to get through the UBC switchboard to grandmother. She was and always will be an actress. If you don't immediately respond to her name, Edith Van Dine, you would surely recognize her as Aunt Lil Fairchild, the voice of reason and morality on the top-rated soap, "Look to Tomorrow." Grandmother hates me to phone her at work, but this was an emergency.

"Groucho was in his box when I left this morning," she told me rather peevishly. "And I certainly shut the front door when I left."

"It was wide open."

"Well, I don't understand that at all, dear," she said, and I could tell her mind was occupied with other things — lies, adultery, deceit, abortion, murder, the junk her television life is so full of.

"Sehr, we'll have to get into this Groucho business a bit later. Gene's waving at me and there's blood in his eyes. Look around the apartment. I'm sure he's just being playful."

Grandmother is sweet but not what you'd call dependable. Groucho, who was much too old to be playful any longer, was gone. And I knew that I had to take matters into my own hands.

2. According to the post office on the corner, the Bay City Police Department was responsible for crimes perpetrated in Bay Heights, where we lived. It was located at the rear of the white art deco City Hall Building on Main Street that you've probably seen on all those TV crime shows that so often lack authenticity. The interior was quite different from the TV versions, however, dark and dank and depressing and painted a sickly green. It was filled with different activity, too. As I roller-skated in, two clean-cut policemen were supporting a badly mauled black fellow whose right eye was hanging out of its socket. The poor man glared at me with his one good eye and asked, "Are you a Baptist?"

I shook my head, and one of the officers informed him, "You're shit out of luck, Willy, looking for a Baptist in this neighborhood." And they dragged him away, past a wire cage door and on to God knows where. I was staring after him when a very stern uniformed policeman with a sand-colored crew cut and moustache asked me if I was looking for the Motor Vehicle Division.

"I am not," I told him. "I'm here to report a stolen dog."

He sighed. "Well, take those skates off, then. No skating in here."

That extremely important task having been disposed of to his satisfaction, he sighed again and dug through papers beneath a long counter. He handed me one and said, "Fill it out, please."

It was labeled "Petty Theft Report."

"There's nothing petty about the theft, officer," I told him. "Groucho is descended from the white bullterriers of England and has the papers to prove it. He was a gift from my late father. So excuse me if I do not consider him petty."

"It's just a classification, miss. Fill out the form, or don't fill it out. Your call."

It was a foolish document, designed for a thing and not a living creature. I was doing what I could with it when an aging Chicano in a coffee-pastel suit (the lightweight, three-piece kind with tacky subdued piping on the lapels) entered the waiting area from what was apparently the squad room. He stared at me, frowning as if he were trying to remember something. Then he strolled over and picked up my half-completed report. He glanced at it and asked with a cocky grin, "So you got a missing mutt?"

"My dog is missing, yes."

"Well, honey," he said, "we got eighty-seven murders on the books, sixty-eight muggings and rapes, upwards of one hundred and thirty b-and-e's. So I wanna be straight with you. Unless your dog happens to bite some traffic cop in the butt, he's gonna stay missing."

"My Groucho has better manners than to bite some cop on the butt, or even to respond to that kind of impolite language," I told him, wadding the sheet into a ball and tossing it into a wire basket. "Sorry to have taken up so much of your valuable time, which, of course, our taxes pay for."

"You a big taxpayer, honey?"

"My grandmother is."

"What about mom and pop?"

"My pop, as you call him, is deceased. My mother ... well, I don't see much of her. Now, if you've no other questions about my family, may I go?"

"Hey, don't be so tough," he said, grinning. "Maybe I got an idea for you. There's this friend of mine, one no-nonsense son of a bitch — excuse my French. He's got the reputation for finding anything — men, women, runaway kids on dope. That's how he got his nickname, the Bloodhound. Maybe he could find your mu — dog."

I stared at him, trying to ascertain how much confidence I should place in a smirking Latin dandy.

"Where is this Bloodhound?"

"Downtown L.A.," he said, slipping a card from his smooth leather wallet and scribbling a name and address on its blank side with an imitation gold Cartier pen. "Here you go, honey."

I looked at the name he had written: Leo Bloodworth. The other side of the card read: Lieutenant Rudy Cugat, BCPD, in embossed letters.

"No relation to the bandleader," he said.


"Xavier Cugat? Little guy with a moustache and a restaurant on La Cienega. No? Before your time, I guess, honey. Never mind. You give the Hound my card and tell him his friend Cugie recommended him highly." Lieutenant Cugat was almost giggling now.

"Is this going to cost me a bundle?" I asked.

"Oh," he replied airily, "a few bucks. But it'll be worth it, I guarantee, to experience the Bloodhound in action."

3. I do very little traveling beyond the West Side area. In all of my fourteen and three-quarter years, I had been to downtown Los Angeles only twice. The first time was when my mother was staying at the Bonaventure with her lover of the moment, a really rancid personality who was singing dreary old Frank Sinatra stuff in a cocktail lounge there. The other time, Gran took me to the Music Center to see one of her cronies, a nice woman named Beverly Smythe, in a new play imported from England in which the F-word was used repeatedly, much to Gran's chagrin. (The way the world is headed, she says, they'll be asking her to use those kinds of words on her soap, and that's when she fully expects to pack it in. "Just pack it in," she promises.)

Anyway, though I was as careful as possible that afternoon, I caught the wrong bus and wound up several miles north of the address on Lieutenant Cugat's card. Luckily, I'd brought my Rollerballs.

It was nearing 4:30 p.m. when I skated up to find — in the midst of a bunch of discount stores, pawnshops, and a porno movie house that looked like one giant rats' nest — a dark, brooding building. A directory informed me that Mr. Leo Bloodworth and his associate, Mr. Roy Kaspar, were officed in suite 403.

Since there were no signs prohibiting it, I skated into the gloomy building.

It was not a busy place. Lots of wood and some of it polished. A rather unsound cage elevator in the center of an open skywell lobby was readying for takeoff. Two nuns were boarding it and I skated on behind them. They were discussing a bargain in plain white underwear they expected to find on the third floor, chattering away like chirping penguins.

The elevator operator, another birdlike creature, a molting chicken, seemed very relieved when the nuns left us. So much so that he slipped a pint bottle of whisky from the inside pocket of his shiny orange jacket with yellow piping, and drank freely from it. He turned to me, wiped his lips on his sleeve, and, grinning most obscenely and toothlessly, offered me the bottle. I declined politely, wondering what sort of mess that smiling Latin had gotten me into.

Naturally, Bloodworth the Bloodhound's office was as dark as Lucifer's soul, to use one of Gran's similes. I sat down on the cold and dusty tile floor, exchanged my Rollerballs for low-rider sneaks, and prepared to wait till the Ice Age, if necessary.

That's when I noticed the strange chap across the hall, sort of hiding in a recess in the wall in front of an unoccupied office. He was a real mouth-breather, this lurker — gargantuan, beet-faced, with semi-punk shaved head. He was wearing a lemon-colored Lacoste shirt (the collar had points, so it was one of the synthetics, rather than the pure cotton) and cranberry slacks, with the obligatory white belt. He was staring at the door to 403.

"Waiting for Mr. Bloodworth?" I asked.

No reply. He took a wooden pencil out of his pants pocket and began chewing it. Just crunching it up as if it were a Baby Ruth or something. Then spitting it out on the floor.

"You aren't Mr. Bloodworth by any horrible chance?" I wondered out loud.

He shot me an evil look and said, "Get the hell out of here, you little bint." Flecks of yellow pencil coated his lips.

"Intimidation does not work on me," I told him. "I have every right to be here and I resent being called whatever it was you called me."

He snorted and ate another pencil, and took our conversation no further. Nor did he leave his niche. We stayed like that for what seemed to be hours. Then the elevator doors groaned open and this big, sort of middle-aged, sort of fat — well, not so much fat as thick-chested — fellow exited.

He was dressed in a neatly pressed tan poplin suit and walked as if his feet hurt. As he drew closer, I noticed that his eyes were totally amazing. Yellow-brown and sleepy, except when they flickered, like the eyes of a hawk I saw on a class trip to the San Diego Zoo. They shifted from me to the spiked-head bozo who that moment stepped forward from his shadowy spot.

"Mr. Bloodworth?" I asked.

The big man with yellow eyes turned to face me and that's when the bozo caught him in the side of the head with a fist like a travel iron.

Mr. Bloodworth — for it was he — bounced into the wall, and the bozo smashed him again. As he slid to the floor, the bozo loomed over him, spitting pencil flecks, veins bulging out like worms on his arms and neck.

"Listen to me, Bloodworth," he shouted, "I want you to tell that slimeball of a partner of yours that Gottlieb's got more of the same for him."

The bozo, Gottlieb, drew back his foot, apparently intent on kicking the fallen man. I rushed forward and swung my skates into that part of the bozo's anatomy where Gran suggested I hit any man who gave me a moment's trouble. Gottlieb was both surprised and pained. He doubled up, howled, and lurched forward, his hand with its gnawed fingernails reaching for me.

But Mr. Bloodworth was just about on his feet again. He shouted at the bozo and that craven thug scuttled off down the hall, holding his wounded privates.

Mr. Bloodworth coughed a few times and checked his teeth for possible damage. Then he pressed his left temple and winced. He tried, unsuccessfully, to brush the dust and grime from his clothes. "Just had the damn suit cleaned," he mumbled in a rumbling baritone.

For some reason, he smelled of chlorine.

He unlocked the door to his office and I followed him into a tiny anteroom. The mail had been deposited on the floor and Mr. Bloodworth moved it around with the toe of his shoe. "There's a good one," he said, indicating an envelope that he obviously expected me to pick up for him.

I handed it to him and he ripped it open with his little finger.

"Who was that brute?" I asked.

"Gottlieb?" Mr. Bloodworth replied in a most unconcerned manner. "Just another satisfied customer."


(Beginning: DIE LIKE A DOG. A novel based on fact by Leo G. Bloodworth)

This book is dedicated to my three ex-wives: Mrs. Louise Lentz (née Gregory), Miss Rita Yarbo, and Mrs. Irene Gallup (née O'Brien). While they may have made my life a living hell, at least they had the decency to deny me the dubious joys of fatherhood.

My sincerest thanks go also to Jerry Flaherty of the Los Angeles Post, who was of tremendous assistance in getting this whole thing on paper.

LGB, The Breakers

La Jolla, California

1. The Pentecostal Church of Marine Rebirth in the San Fernando Valley was a former electronics-parts warehouse that had been gutted, then partitioned into cubicles, each of which was filled with a wooden hot tub. Each tub was in turn filled with a weary businessman type, neck-deep in steamy, soothing water, being guided through a submerged Born Again experience by a healthy young woman with a solemn expression, a strong set of mitts, and unfettered bosoms. There were about twenty-five couples in the tubs, all as naked as apples. And it wasn't even noon.

The Most Reverend Buddy Fedderson and I were looking down on them from a catwalk in front of his green-velvet-draped sanctum one flight up. Reverend Buddy adjusted his wraparound terry-cloth vestment and smiled benignly at the giant egg crate of wet round humans below.

"Our philosophy is a simple one, Mr. Bloodworth. Relieve the mind and body of all want and the soul will take care of itself."

"Amen," I added, since my mouth was hanging open anyway. "Reverend, I wonder if you'd mind pointing out the bald head that belongs to Mr. Milton DeRitter."

Fedderson dropped a few levels of beatification closer to the earth and asked, "Huh?"

"I'm not really here for a marine rebirth," I confessed. "Maybe when I have more time."

"But what —"

"I want DeRitter. I've been on his case for nearly a month."

Reverend Buddy's sky-blue peepers turned frosty. "You can go fu —"

I held up my hand. "Not in front of the holy hot tubs. Look, pal, I'm not here to cause you any grief. I just want DeRitter."

He glared at me while his mind clicked away. Finally he said, "I can't allow this. Mr. DeRitter is —"


Excerpted from Sleeping Dog by Dick Lochte. Copyright © 2014 Dick Lochte. Excerpted by permission of Brash Books, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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