Bad Things Happen Hardcover – Jul 28 2009
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"Bad Things Happen is a very smart, well-written roller coaster ride that is always threatening to hurl the reader out into roaring empty space. Go along for the thrill ride!" James Patterson "Bad Things Happen is a tense read that keeps you tightly in its grip until the very last page. Harry Dolan has written an incredibly rich, smart read reminiscent of A Simple Plan or Presumed Innocent - not to mention that it's just a damn good story. Readers are in for a breathless ride" Karin Slaughter "Great f***ing book, man. I was totally hooked. I hope you write a dozen more, and that's just next year" Stephen King "Thriller-writing of the highest order" Daily Mail "You better believe [Dolan] has a gift for storytelling...The narrative comes with startling developments and nicely tricky reversals." New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Harry Dolan graduated from Colgate University, where he majored in philosophy and studied fiction-writing with the novelist Frederick Busch. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently works as a freelance editor. He grew up in Rome, New York, and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his partner Linda Randolph. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
And leads him in a way that is not good." -- Proverbs 16:29 (NKJV)
This a rave review.
I cannot remember a first novel in a detective series that I have enjoyed as much as listening to Erik Davies read Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan. Don't miss listening to this book!
The story is so much fun to think and to talk about, it's hard to avoid spoilers . . . but I'll do my best.
First, don't read the jacket copy before starting the book. It will unfold in more delightful ways if you don't.
Second, be prepared for a story that will interest and amuse you at several different levels (as homage to mystery writing, as humor, as delicately plotted misdirection, and as a fascinating character development).
Third, don't rush. Detect as you go. There's lots to chew on and consider.
Fourth, if you know Ann Arbor, soak up the local color. Go Blue!
What is the book like? I can't give you an appropriate comparison. It's unique while displaying many wonderful characteristics of a lot of different fine detective fiction writers in their most excellent books.
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
Meet David Loogan, or at least the man who goes by that name. He's a quiet guy who keeps to himself, spending his days going to movies & people watching. In a cafe he finds a magazine that prints crime & detective short stories. On a lark, he writes one & take it to the mag offices. Then he rewrites it. He's caught dropping off the third version by the owner who ends up offering him a job as an editor. Tom Kristoll says he can work from home and before long the two strike up a friendship. David also meets Laura, Tom's wife, who drags him out to art galleries & initiates an affair.
One night Tom calls for a favour. Will David help him bury a body? There's more to that story but David gives him a hand, even though he doubts Tom's version of events. Soon after, he ends the affair on the same night that Tom is sent sailing out his office window.
Local detectives Elizabeth Waishkey & Carter Shan catch the case & as they dig, they find evidence of the affair as well as other questions concerning the group of authors who run the magazine. All of them have secrets & Elizabeth & Carter have to give them a harder look when a second body pops up.
Meanwhile, David begins a little detecting of his own. He wants to know the truth about the man he helped Tom bury & how he ended up dead. He meets someone (don't want to spoil it) who also has questions & they join forces. Unfortunately, it's not long before they are murdered & David is framed. He doesn't have much faith in the system & goes on the run. But when he was interviewed by Elizabeth, she struck him as an honest cop & he keeps in touch.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The first sentence perfectly illustrates the author's deadpan style: "The shovel has to meet certain requirements." By page four, the reader knows for sure that the man calling himself David Loogan wants the shovel to dig a grave. By that time, it's too late to have any thoughts of doing anything else other than to keep reading; one is hooked, line and sinker. No point in fighting, just let yourself be reeled in by this sophisticated noirish mystery set in Ann Arbor, centering on a literary magazine that prints mystery stories. Part of the pleasure is the contrast between the lurid tales the magazine prints with the complicated puzzle that the author sets the reader.
There are layers upon layers of mystery. What is in David Loogan's past? Who is the dead man he helps his friend bury? Who killed the man?
David Loogan is a man of mystery who just wants to lead a quiet life. Tom Kristoll, editor of Gray Streets, discovers that David has a flair for editing. In addition to hiring him to improve the sometimes dreadful stories submitted to his publication, Tom befriends the reclusive stranger. But there are shattering secrets in the literary circle clustered around Tom. Success, disappointment and betrayal can all be motives for murder. And since the suspects are all mystery writers most of the deaths are staged to look like suicide!
This novel is exceptionally rich with characters: the mysterious and resourceful David Loogan, the convivial Tom and his seductive wife Laura, Elizabeth Waishkey the lovely and clever police detective tasked with solving the murders, her daughter Sarah, Michael Beccanti the cat burglar...Harry Dolan seems to invent startling people in the turn of a phrase who seem quite solid and real. Tongue-in-cheek homage is paid to the masters Chandler and Stout and just when you think you have reached the grand conclusion--another twist! The suspense is spun out exquisitely thin and dry before all is over. This is an outstanding debut novel by an exciting new talent that combines taut action with literary sophistication. Highly recommended!
Highly recommended--an entertaining thriller that is sure to keep the reader on the edge of his seat.
Tom obtains David's help in dumping a corpse though the former does not believe the latter's explanation. Soon afterward Tom falls to his death from his office window. AAPD Homicide Detective Elizabeth Waishkey suspects David killed Tom especially when evidence surfaces that he slept with Laura. As other people associated with Gray Streets die, single mom Elizabeth focuses even more intensely on David, who conducts his own inquiry to uncover the killer before he is on trial.
The fun in this terrific twisting serial killer investigative tale is the writers who are intelligent and witty until they become the star of someone else's plot. The story line is fast-paced and the amateur sleuth prime suspect and the obstinate cop chasing him makes for an intriguing duel. Mindful of the movies' Theater of Blood and Murder by Death, but less hammy, fans will enjoy Harry Dolan's fine thriller that as Vincent Price said (in Theatre of Blood) is "much ado about murder".
"Bad Things Happen" is at its best when Dolan goes for laughs. For instance, Tom Kristoll, the publisher of "Gray Streets," wryly states, "No one sets out to be an editor. It's something that happens to you, like jaundice or falling down a well." A woman named Bridget makes fun of the contrivances that writers rely on to move their stories along: "It's a cliché...a murder staged to look like a suicide. Every mystery writer uses it sooner or later. I used it in my second book." More of this tongue-in-cheek bantering would have been invigorating.
The author presents a baffling series of events that leave us almost completely in the dark. A sharp detective named Elizabeth Waishkey attempts to find out who committed the aforementioned murders. Liz empathizes with David but is extremely irritated when he starts his own investigation, putting himself at risk and interfering with her efforts. David's personality is not well delineated; his behavior runs the gamut from shrewd to incredibly stupid. In fact, with a few exceptions, the large cast of characters consists of self-centered and grating individuals. The second half of the book goes straight downhill; the plot becomes so convoluted that we need a scorecard to keep track of the proceedings. Although the author is obviously satirizing ridiculous works of fiction in which authors throw in everything but the kitchen sink, the twists and turns are more annoying than amusing. First, Dolan tries to convince us that Scenario A is true; later, he substitutes Scenario B for Scenario A. Just when you think that everything has been explained, along comes Scenario C. By the time the good guys are sorted out from the bad guys and the deep dark secrets are revealed, readers will be more exhausted than exhilarated. "Bad Things Happen" would have been much better had it been less heavy-handed and more cohesive.
Bad Things has its faults. I did not appreciate how it followed so many characters point of view. I think that it started off perfectly balanced for about half of the book, but upon reflection, some of the carefully crafted characters from earlier were left to fall apart as the plot shifted. Too much cleverness was added at the expense of a clean perfection that could have occurred.
Basically, the plot follows David Loogan, a man on the run from an unknown past. The women all seem to fall head over heals for this silent mysterious man. He is acutely intelligent. His mind works at a pace always one step ahead of the reader. David has found himself in a college town living in a rented flat, and working for a mystery magazine publication. The husband and wife owners of the publication are expertly drawn out and you get a real feel for them as people.
Soon though, David's past starts catching up, an unfortunate murder takes place, and the ball is rolling. As I said, the plot is good, not as great as the earlier character studies, the second half suffers just a little. But all in all this is just about as good as it gets. So five stars from me and I cant wait to get the next work by Dolan.