Book Review: Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker


Dog Eat Dog is a novel by Edward Bunker. Bunker is an interesting character. His past involves a criminal career, a horrible childhood, a very high I.Q., becoming an author in prison and acting in some of the most classic neo noir films of the last 40 years. This book was released in 1995 and should be read by any crime fiction fan and especially any fan of noir fiction.

This story is about 3 ex-convicts who have been friends since juvenile hall. Mad Dog lives in Portland with his girlfriend and young daughter. Diesel has been working with a union in Sacramento and does the odd job for the local mob boss from time to time. He has a nice house, a wife and a brand new Mustang. Troy is our third man in this trio. Troy is a smart man that most criminals love. Troy has just got out of prison and is already got a plan in place to make some money.

This journey takes us to the underworld of Los Angeles in the 1990’s. We have drug dealers, crooked lawyers, kidnapping, murder, drug addiction and robbery just to wet your appetite for the dark corners this book goes to.

You can tell Bunker cribs from his own experience in crime for this book. There is a lot of parallels between Troy and Bunker. Bunker also covers some social issues in this book. One thing he covers is the disappearance of the middle class in Los Angeles. Something that continues to happen in many areas of the country today. Another topic is the Three Strike Law that went into effect in California in 1994, a year before this book was released. The law basically states that after your third felony you where going to go to prison for life. This book basically tells us that with this law, we are making people with two strikes willing to do anything not to go back to prison. This maybe a very good point and is something that has been changed in 2012, now it has to be a serious or violent felony for your third strike. I am no lawyer and don’t get into politics much, but for example, in one case a 2 time felon was caught stealing a set of golf clubs. He was sent to prison for life because of the 3 strike rule. Though he is a 3 time felon, and I have no idea what his previous 2 felonies are,(and he did already serve his time for those) life seems a little extreme for stealing golf clubs.

This is an amazing book and I could not put it down. Knowing a little bit about Bunker’s background made me interested in reading him. I was not expecting such a well written book. You will not be disappointed in this book! I highly recommend reading this before the movie is released later this year.

This movie could be amazing or it could be very disappointing. Lets look at the information we have so far. First off the material is second to none for a neo noir film. Second is the talent involved. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay and is directing. His movie writing credits are some of the best neo noir films in the last 40 years. On the other hand his directing credits have been hit and miss, some are very good and some are unbelievable bad. Our main star, playing Troy is Nicolas Cage, if there is ever an actor in modern film that can be absolutely brilliant in one film and then over act and go totally campy in the next, it is Cage. Schrader promises a return to form for both him and Cage in this picture and I really hope he is right. Here is a link to a couple articles about the upcoming film:


One thing this film has me excited about is Willem Dafoe as Mad Dog. This casting should be worth the price of admission.



Underrated Noir: Snake Eyes


Snake Eyes is from legendary director Brian De Palma.  De Palma was one of the best neo-noir directors through the 1980’s and 90’s.  In one of the coolest and most underrated scenes in movies is the first 20 minutes of this film.  It looks like it is one continues shot, but it is edited together.  There are some other really cool shots in this movie as well, I liked the point of view shots and the hotel room pan shot. Our protagonist is Rick Santoro, played by Nicolas Cage.  He is a dirty cop with a gambling issue.  He is in his town, Atlantic City, where he has ambitions of local politics after his police career ends.  The movie starts with Rick coming to the local casino to watch a Heavy Weight Championship fight with his old classmate, Lincoln Tyler played by Stan Shaw.  He has ringside seats with his friend and Commander in the Navy, Kevin Dunne played by Gary Sinise.  Dunne is there on protection duty for the Secretary of Defense who is there to watch the big fight.  Soon Julia Costello, played by Carla Gugino sits next to Rick at the fight and all hell breaks loose.  I like Gugino as our femme fatale, as she changes from a platinum blond in all white to a brunette in a black jacket, our prospective of her also changes.


This has a very intricate plot and is well executed.  I’m not really sure why this film has such low ratings with a 5.9 on IMDb, 52 on Metascore, and 40% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I watched this in the theater when it first came out and just re-watched it tonight.  I don’t think this is a masterpiece by any means but feel it should be a sold 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5.  If you are a noir fan give this a second chance.