The Dog Killer of Utica

An Eliot Conte Mystery

Part of Melville International Crime

Someone’s shooting dogs in Utica ...

Ex-PI Eliot Conte (“part Mike Hammer and part William S. Burroughs,” according to The Washington Post) thought he’d escaped the sordid underworld of long-established Mafia networks, unsolved crimes, and the specter of his political kingmaker father that make up the background in his gritty hometown of Utica, New York.

He’s returned to his old love, teaching American literature, and a new love, policewoman Catherine Cruz. But the peace doesn’t last long.

First, one of Eliot’s students, a Bosnian Muslim, disappears, leaving a trail of texts and e-mails that suggest a terrorism plot underway. Meanwhile, the tightknit community is disturbed by a series of brutal murders of dogs.

And no matter where he looks, the trail seems to lead back to secrets Conte hoped he’d buried forever.


FRANK LENTRICCHIA was raised in Utica, New York, to working-class, first-generation Italian-American parents. He’s the author of The Accidental Pallbearer, the first book in the Eliot Conte series, and seven other novels, and a number of highly acclaimed critical studies. He is a professor of American literature at Duke University.


“I have never read a book in a day…until I read this! The final page had my skin rippled in goosebumps… Fresh and compelling.” —Promoting Crime Fiction

The Dog Killer of Utica — the second to feature Eliot — may hold particular appeal to those who like Chandler and Spillane, who have a dark sense of humour and a liking for the tough guy school of American fiction.” —Crime Review

“Idiosyncratic yet gripping.” —Wall Street Journal

“Lentricchia…writes great scenes and sentences, and several of the characters—especially a tough-girl bodyguard, a right-wing radio ranter and Conte’s precocious 13-year-old neighbor—are keepers.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The story, which is told in the present tense for maximum suspense, is dark and tragic, and it’s nearly impossible to turn away from it. A terrific crime novel.” —Booklist, starred review

“The pages sizzle with intensity in this gritty, operatic, and wholly engaging tale. No matter if readers are new to the characters (introduced in The Accidental Pallbearer), Lentricchia’s crystal-clear prose spells it out. Reckless and passionate, his protagonist demands attention.” —Library Journal, starred review

“Fast-paced… Terse, screenplaylike prose propels the action through Utica’s mean streets.” —Publishers Weekly


“Gripping, complex…An excellent start for these Eliot Conte books. Can’t wait for the next one – and the cable-TV series.” The Philadelphia Inquirer

“There’s a Quentin Tarantino masculinity to this story of a private investigator known for solving knotty problems in not-quite-lawful ways.” —The Charlotte Observer

“Fast-paced and thrilling, scene after scene.” —The Utica Observer-Dispatch

“Frank Lentricchia’s new novel ranks as entertainment of a high order—funny, fast-moving, and hot-blooded. It’s also the kind of novel that will appeal to readers who like their fiction to carry depth and range.” —Don DeLillo

The Accidental Pallbearer is a brilliant piece of fiction, and a page-turner to boot, able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best writing in America today.” —Jay Parini

The Accidental Pallbearer deserves to be read alongside the best literary detective fiction of our time. Lentricchia’s protagonist is the antihero par excellence—you can’t put him down, either physically or emotionally.” —John R. MacArthur, publisher, Harper’s 

“If you like your crime very noir, very hard-boiled and very American, then this is the novel for you.” The Telegraph (London)

“Lentricchia captures the feel of upstate New York (Richard Russo territory) and of Italian American culture within a familiar genre, with predictable grit and wit.” Booklist

“The terrific writing, clever plots, bleak humor, and colorful characters recommend this to fans of gritty noir crime fiction.” Library Journal (starred review)