When I read "Bad Things Happen", the first David Loogan book, I was immediately hooked. Dolan gives out tiny, crazy details about Loogan, which in effect leaves him a blank but gives the reader enough that they're dying to know what the back story is. The tradition continues in the second book and, the whole time I read, I found myself wondering if Loogan is a hero or an anti-hero.
This time around, Loogan is drawn into a seventeen-year-old mystery when a manuscript shows up outside the door of his office at Gray Streets. The manuscript is the confession of a murder, and Loogan immediately hands it over to his lover Elizabeth Waishkey of the Ann Arbor police. Of course, being Loogan, he can't resist digging into the mystery himself using his own methods--which aren't always in line with those of the police.
Dolan is good at exploring the darker side of human nature. Each of his characters seems to operate within a strict moral code, but that's not to say that each of his characters is good. Instead, I think this lends his characters a particular sort of authenticity. They are true to what they believe in--whatever it may be that they believe in. I think what draws the others to Loogan is that he accepts this knowledge about human nature and uses it as an effective means of interacting with others. This isn't to say that he's above this very human behavior. In fact, Loogan's own code blinds him, affecting his ability to see clearly what's happening before him.
I thought the mystery was well written, with a good many twists and turns. Just when you think you've got it figured out, Dolan springs another surprise on you. I also felt that the action in the book unfolds in unexpected ways. There were moments of grace that I couldn't see coming, but that felt very real when they arrived, and other moments where I felt let down by some of the characters. As I found out along with Loogan, sometimes people aren't as married to their ideals as previously believed.
The real pleasure of reading this book and the previous one is watching how Loogan interacts with the other characters. What I find refreshing about Loogan is that, while he appears on the whole to be rather moral, there is just enough of an edge to him to give the reader a jolt. When he makes threats against other characters, you know he isn't fooling around. This hints at a past that was either unsavory or dangerous or both, but Dolan is cagey with the details. I think he's very good at keeping the reader on the edge, and I suspect that he could keep this momentum with this character up for a good number of books yet to come. I know I'll keep on reading.