Monday, October 22, 2007

REVIEW: You Can Run But You Can't Hide by Duane "Dog" Chapman

Published: 2007. Click on the cover to buy from your local Booksense-affiliated independent bookseller.

As I've written before, I'm a fan of the Dog. I watch the show, I admire the 'do, and I decided to read the book. The show, which follows Duane "Dog" Chapman through his days as a professional bounty hunter, is both serious and campy, showcasing Dog's talents as a bounty hunter as well as his (and his wife Beth's) considerable personal charisma. You Can Run But You Can't Hide, his autobiography, is a lot like the show. One minute, he's telling you some heartfelt anecdote about connecting with God; the next, he's describing the love of his life as "rack-tastic." Who could ask for more?

The book covers his life from childhood to the present day, as he confronts fame, spiritual growth and strides and setbacks in his fifties. The theme running throughout the book is redemption- redemption from a past that includes a first-degree murder conviction and bouts of drug use as well as chaotic relationships and a professional reputation as a loose cannon. The hunt for convicted serial rapist Andrew Luster is presented as the defining event of his career, the really big success that made him famous and earned him the respect of his peers and of the public. The two most important people in his adult life, his mother and his wife and partner Beth, are portrayed with absolute love and reverence throughout, Dog's ever-present appreciation of Beth's physical attributes not withstanding. And that stuff is just his way of showing he cares.

I had fun reading Dog's book. I think it would appeal to a lot of people- reluctant readers, fans of pop-culture, and people interested in born-again Christianity. The writing is never the point in a book like this but he tells his life story well, with emotion and humor. It's raw and personal and honest. I felt for him in his struggles with drugs, crime and abuse. The chapters on the Luster hunt were riveting. There were no big surprises- not even Dog's candid admission that he's "vain". No! Not you, Goldilocks! But it was fun. Knowing how successful he's become, it's gratifying to see him overcome his challenges with grace and gratitude and live to do a lot of good in this world. God bless you, Dog.