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Very Bad Men [Hardcover]

Harry Dolan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 12 2011
A new book in the nationally bestselling series that has wowed critics and readers alike.

David Loogan returns! Loogan is living in Ann Arbor with Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter, Sarah. He's settled into a quiet routine as editor of the mystery magazine Gray Streets-until one day he finds a manuscript outside his door. It begins: "I killed Henry Kormoran."

Anthony Lark has a list of names-Terry Dawtrey, Sutton Bell, Henry Kormoran. To his eyes, the names glow red on the page. They move. They breathe. The people on the list have little in common except that seventeen years ago they were involved in a notorious robbery. And now Anthony Lark is hunting them down, and he won't stop until every one of them is dead.


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Review

"A twist-filled adventure…The characters in this engaging work are full of surprises."


Very Bad Men is the mystery of the summer—totally top-shelf…Simply great storytelling."


“Like Dolan’s notable debut, Bad Things Happen, this [is a] cleverly plotted, hard-boiled tale."


“The rare crime novel with something for everyone who reads crime fiction.”
--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.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A thriller that keeps you on your toes Dec 31 2013
By Sandy TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
4.5 stars

This is the follow up to Dolan's excellent "Bad Things Happen", with a core of returning characters.
David Loogan has recovered from his adventures in the previous book & is living a more settled life. He shares a home with Elizabeth, a detective & her teen daughter Sarah, who David is teaching how to drive. He's now the main editor at "Gray Streets", a crime fiction magazine & is used to receiving unsolicited manuscripts. But not like this one.
Left outside his office door, it's a story of 3 murders, 2 down & 1 to go. The details of the second murder catch his eye as the address is the same as the call Elizabeth just took about a dead body. When they look into the first one, they discover that man was also killed a few days ago. They scramble to locate the third man listed & are able to save him after he's attacked. Then the digging starts.
The three men have something in common. Seventeen years ago, they attempted a bank job in Sault Ste. Marie that went horribly wrong. A cop showed up to do his banking & before it was all over, one robber was dead, one got away, these three were caught & the cop was shot. The get away driver who escaped was never identified & the cop cop ended up in a wheelchair. His daughter is now running for senator & the whole thing is being dredged up by the press.
Into the investigation stumbles Lucy Navarro. She works for a tabloid & what she lacks in experience she makes up for with persistence. As things heat up, Lucy dogs their every step, ruffling the feathers of all involved. Although she's less than forthcoming, David takes a shine to her & is more than a little worried when she disappears.
In alternating chapters, we meet Anthony Lark, the man responsible for the growing pile of bodies.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
"I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors." -- Psalm 119:121 (NKJV)

Although Very Bad Men can certainly be enjoyed as a standalone novel, many of the nuances in the characters of Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and David Loogan won't be fully appreciated by you unless you read Bad Things Happen first. I listened to the audio recordings of the two books in the reverse order . . . and am kicking myself for doing so. This two-book series (so far) is filled with wonderful references to the detective literature that warm the hearts of those who love American-style mysteries. I thought that Erik Davies did a great job of reading Very Bad Men, and I commend that version of the novel to you.

Very Bad Men has several narrators. The dominant one in the book's earliest parts is Anthony Lark who has decided to take revenge on the perpetrators of a failed bank robbery in which one robber was killed and a sheriff was crippled for life. Lark is one of those obsessed serial killers whose perverted logic makes such mysteries chilling and fascinating to read. As you learn more about Lark, you soon appreciate that other people have different agendas that are served and threatened by Lark. Waishkey and Loogan are on separate paths to solve the murders. In this novel, Loogan is now the editor of "Gray Streets," a literary detective magazine and Waishkey is still part of the Ann Arbor, Michigan police. They also live together along with Waishkey's daughter. Needless to say, Loogan's investigations make for big problems for Waishkey. It's an interesting tension that makes the book more interesting. "Gray Streets" is right in the middle after Lark writes a note confessing a murder as part of a story that he leaves at "Gray Streets.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  89 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We all need to own our actions." July 2 2011
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
David Loogan lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his girlfriend, Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Sarah. Loogan edits a mystery magazine, and he has made the mental leap from writing and critiquing stories about crime to tracking down villains in real life. In Harry Dolan's latest novel, "Very Bad Men," David tells us a story that will explain "the motives people have for killing one another." As we will see, the reasons for taking someone's life can vary from a matter of convenience to a thirst for revenge. Loogan, who is a witty first person narrator, gets embroiled in his latest adventure when someone drops an unsolicited manuscript at his office, in which the anonymous writer confesses to committing murder and even provides the name of his next victim.

An emotionally disturbed individual has targeted particular men whom he believes must die; if he has to dispatch others who are not on the list, so be it. When Elizabeth and David become familiar with the case, they discover that it is far more complex than it at first appears. "Very Bad Men" involves a seventeen-year-old bank robbery, corrupt public officials, an aspiring senatorial candidate, and an ambitious young newspaper reporter who stirs things up.

Harry Dolan has created a large cast of characters, each of whom plays a role in what will turn out to be a Greek tragedy, Michigan style. The author is good with details: how to kill someone who is locked up in prison; what it is like to live with excruciating migraine headaches; a fine description of the landscape and inhabitants of Michigan's Upper Peninsula; and the tricks that tenacious journalists use to get their stories. Although the plot is ridiculously convoluted and not particularly believable, "Very Bad Man" is entertaining enough to hold our interest. As bodies pile up and events occur that shed new light on what is happening, David and Elizabeth decide to dig deeper into the past. They suspect that the slaughter will not stop until secrets that have been hidden for many years are finally revealed.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The second David Loogan novel July 21 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Very Bad Men tells a very good story, an absorbing mystery with enough twists that you may need to take notes to keep track of the plot. Someone is trying to kill the participants in a bank robbery that occurred seventeen years earlier. We are well into the novel before the police discover the killer's identity, but this isn't a whodunit: the reader knows from the start that Anthony Lark is the culprit. What we don't know is why Lark is after the robbers. Investigating the mystery are David Loogan, the editor of a mystery magazine; his law enforcement girlfriend, Detective Elizabeth Waishkey; and Lucy Navarro, a persistent tabloid reporter. Rounding out the cast are the wheelchair-bound former sheriff who caught a bullet while foiling the bank robbery, his daughter Callie who is running for a Senate seat (and with whom Lark is more than a little obsessed), Lark's psychiatrist, and Callie's father-in-law, an affable senator whose behavior is a bit loopy.

The mystery's solution seems to be tied to the getaway driver who fled when the robbery went sour. His identity presents a second mystery for Loogan and the police to ponder. When Navarro disappears a little more than halfway into the story, yet another layer of intrigue is added: Was Navarro kidnapped, and if so, by whom?

Lark is the novel's best character. He suffers from an affliction that imbues written words with color and causes them to move around on a page. He can handle Hemmingway's terse prose but Joseph Heller's abundant adverbs "swarm like marching ants." While unexpected traits like this bring many of Harry Dolan's characters to life, Waishkey is a typical police detective, less interesting than the novel's other players.

Dolan uses crisp, undemanding prose to construct an effective plot. We know that someone wants the truth to remain buried -- to that end, Loogan and Navarro are confronted with threats and attempted bribes -- but the puzzle surrounding the bank robbery kept me guessing to the end. Although it's not always easy to follow, the plot never becomes so convoluted as to slow the story's steady pace.

Loogan is no Sherlock Holmes. As he tries to puzzle out the solutions to the various mysteries, he's frequently wrong. That gives him a measure of credibility that is too often missing from the seemingly infallible armchair detectives who headline mystery novels. As unlikely as it might be for a mystery magazine editor to become embroiled in a mystery, Dolan concocts a believable excuse for Loogan's involvement.

This is the second David Loogan novel but the first I've read. It was strong enough to earn my recommendation and to encourage me to buy the first book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book July 13 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "We all want to be seen for who we really are..." July 13 2011
By Denise Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is the second novel featuring David Loogan and his live-in partner Elizabeth Waishkey. David is the editor and publisher of mystery stories for a magazine called "Gray Streets". Elizabeth is a detective for the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan. In a very unlikely scenario, David becomes involved in a whodunit when he discovers an envelope propped against the door of his office. Inside that envelope is a message and a confession from someone who claims to have killed a recent murder victim. Who left this confession and why? This is the first of several apparent executions. The victims are all connected to a failed heist - the Great Lakes Bank Robbery, that occurred many years previously. In addition to David bumbling along in the investigation, there is also a young tabloid reporter named Lucy Navarro hot on the case. The chapters skip around and focus on different characters and move back and forth in time. This is a story that has a large cast of good guys and bad guys and a lot of background information is provided that moves the narrative forward.

I didn't find this novel to be particularly suspenseful or very thrilling. Also found it to be very slow moving with way too many completely unrealistic, and frankly sort of uninteresting, plot points. The story was very predictable with its characters all running around playing amateur sleuth a la Nancy Drew. It seemed as if the author was trying to imitate other writers with his dialog; the back cover compares his writing to Elmore Leonard. The way that David and Lucy insert themselves into the hunt for the killer and involve themselves in the case seemed completely unbelievable -- and what detective would allow her boyfriend and daughter to actually skulk around town carrying out this clandestine investigation? I had a hard time suspending disbelief. After all, these are supposed to be VERY BAD MEN.

The resolution was OK but quite drawn out. The real purpose of the tale was explained in the first chapter -- it's "about the motives people have for killing one another."

I did not read the first book in this series, Bad Things Happen, and it will be unlikely that I'd read the third. Despite raves from the publisher ensuring that it will "keep your mind racing and your hand eagerly turning pages," I simply did not find this mystery very compelling or interesting.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A First Rate Mystery! Sept. 6 2011
By Michael A. Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a very good mystery by a very promising author. David Loogan is back to solve another mystery. He is now in charge of Gray Streets publishing. As Loogan had done in the first book, another individual leaves a manuscript in an envelope at the door of the office. David reads it and it turns out to describe in detail a murder that the author committed and a few others that he is about to commit. Loogan shares this info with his live-in policewoman girlfriend, Elizabeth and they go off to try to solve the mystery.

Everything leads to a failed bank robbery from 17 years prior. Anthony Lark is obsessed with killing the remaining individuals (one was already dead) who committed that robbery. Additionally there are specific individuals that may have something to hide and may also want the original robbers dead.

As David and Elizabeth investigate, the author keeps throwing in more twists to the plot. As in the first book Loogan likes to accuse just about everyone to their face and in this tale he seems to accuse several people of being the unknown "fifth robber" from the original bank job. The fifth robber was never caught and also caused the death of a police officer when he fled the scene.

The author seems to once again use a combination of David Loogan first person narrative and third person narrative (in the chapters that don't involve Loogan) rather well. Dolan has once again succeeded in spinning a first rate mystery. I did think that some of the plot twists were excessive especially with the character of Nancy Navarro, who seems to be a bumbling reporter that doesn't know what she is investigating. Otherwise I would have rated the tale a full five stars.
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