David Loogan is a very mysterious man with a past and, although plenty of people are asking, he's not talking! A recent arrival in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Loogan is surprised when Tom Kristoll, the publisher of Gray Streets, a mystery magazine, offers him a job as an editor. He's even more surprised when Kristoll asks for his help burying a body. Perhaps, understanding that Loogan would prefer that his past also stay buried, Kristoll intuitively understands that Loogan won't be doing any talking. Later, when Kristoll falls (or perhaps he was pushed?) from his office window, Loogan's affair with Kristoll's wife marks him as a suspect. But, despite the police's best efforts, Loogan still isn't talking! The mystery moves into high gear and the staff and authors associated with Gray Streets begin to drop like flies. Like Agatha Christie's famous novel, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, the body count escalates and the entire cast is rather nervously looking over their shoulders.
BAD THINGS HAPPEN is a very clever, exceptionally well written mystery in which first-time author Harry Dolan pays tribute to but also satirizes his predecessors and his fellow contemporary authors in the mystery genre. He even goes so far as to satirize himself by having his characters imagine a possible solution to the puzzling murders by contemplatively musing, "If this were a story in Gray Streets ...". The cast of possible suspects is an amusing, almost droll but very noir collection of self-important, pretentious, stuffy authors, editors and wannabes who suffer from a thoroughly modern set of psychoses and personality failings. In short, a strange set of characters with an equally strange collection of names such as Nathan Hideaway, Rex Chatterjee, Bridget Shellcross, Casimir Hifflyn and Valerie Calmero. Clearly, Harry Dolan is not afraid to tweak the noses of those, like himself, who would presume to enter the world of writing for a living.
Harry Dolan has done himself proud in an enjoyable debut novel with the mandatory clever twist ending that few readers will figure out in advance. Certainly I didn't. Highly recommended with a note that I'm eagerly looking forward to his second novel.