We meet Dr. Henry Metzger as he is dropped unceremoniously from (where else?) a catwalk onto the head of a burglar in Chinese Gordon’s machine shop. Dr. Henry is a cat. Later in the book, Dr. Henry adopts a very large dog, thus the book’s title.
Chinese Gordon is a talented machinist who is just wrapping up building a full size working model of an M-39-A1 20mm automatic aircraft cannon which he mounts in his van. We ride out to the desert with Chinese and his crew to test the weapon during which he destroys a junk car with a burst of high explosive ammo. So we know Chinese Gordon is well armed if you happen to be behind his van.
Chinese Gordon stumbles across the fact that one million dollars worth of confiscated cocaine has been donated to a nearby university for medical studies and offers to get it back to its previous owner (for a fee). While this burglary is taking place, Chinese scoops up a box of papers in the only locked file cabinet in the room – just because.
The papers turn out to be psych ops planning intended to throw (name your location) into chaos by exploiting local cultural beliefs and disrupting key infrastructure. Enter the CIA stage left. The CIA commissioned the psych-ops, but does not wish to be associated with this fact and really wants the papers back. Chinese Gordon sees this as a money making opportunity and seeks international bids for his find.
Chinese decides to take a page from the psych-ops to develop and deploy a plan to block the freeways in LA, destroy the phone switching center and cause public transit workers to strike. The CIA is not happy, but agrees to pay. Unfortunately the offer for payment is in bad faith and so a second rendezvous is arraigned which takes place in Palm Springs at night (also in bad faith) which fails as well. Much confusion goes on under the hood at the CIA and heads explode.
Metzger’s Dog is Thomas Perry’s second book (1983) and like other Perry books is full of tradecraft. Chinese Gordon and his crew plot out their moves with much more subtlety than their opponents and the story careens ahead from one clever but outrageous proposal to the next. Tons of action with a large dose of whimsy.