Laughing Dog

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lochte’s work falls within the sub-genre of detective fiction that was pioneered by author Raymond Chandler. Unfortunately, Lochte’s novel reads like an unrevised copy of an inspired first draft. Lochte writes in a style that often resembles Chandler’s famous prose, but he never equals it. At times Lochte’s writing is unintentionally silly, as in this description of a murder victim: “the blood that had soaked through his emerald shirt was just another vivid element in his overall color scheme.”

The most creative aspect of LAUGHING DOG is its narrative format. Dahlquist and Bloodworth each recount the story of their individual investigations in alternating chapters. Since each of the two sleuths appears as a character in the other’s narrative, this allows for interesting shifts in point of view. This narrative format would have been more effective, however, if Lochte had not tried to transform his fictional investigators into fictional authors. The protagonists reflect Lochte himself in that they both recount their narratives as detective stories which they have published as a sequel to a successful first effort at writing. Dahlquist as investigator/author reveals Lochte’s central shortcoming as an author when she says of herself, “one doesn’t know exactly how much to keep oneself out of a narration.”