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Book Author: Harry Dolan

BAD THINGS HAPPEN by Harry Dolan: Book Review

Whew–I feel as if I just got off a roller coaster going at top speed. That’s the effect that Bad Things Happen had on me.

Harry Dolan’s debut novel will make you hold your breath until the end.

David Loogan, now of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a man without much of a past. Or at least a past he’s willing to share.  He reluctantly takes a job as an editor of a short story crime magazine, Grey Streets, at the urging of its editor, Tom Kristoll.   But shortly afterward, Loogan receives a call from Kristoll asking him to come to his house; when Loogan arrives, there’s a man’s dead body sitting in Kristoll’s study.  Kristoll tells Loogan that this man broke into his house and that he killed the man in self-defense.  Kristoll doesn’t want to go to the police, isn’t sure the police will believe him, and asks for Loogan’s help in disposing of the body.  Loogan reluctantly agrees, and they drive to a field and put the body in a shallow grave.

But then the story starts changing and things get complicated.  Each time Kristoll goes over the story, parts of it change.  Then Loogan begins an affair with Kristoll’s wife, Laura, and things get even more complicated.  And then there are two more deaths.

Elizabeth Waishkey is the detective in charge of the cases. She’s attracted to the mysterious Loogan but keeps trying to tell him that this isn’t a story in Grey Streets but an actual police investigation and that Loogan needs to keep out of it and tell her all he knows.  But Loogan doesn’t want to do that.  Is it because he’s guilty?  Is it because of experiences with the police elsewhere?  Is it because he doesn’t trust the Ann Arbor cops and thinks he is better able to solve the murders that are piling up?  We won’t know the answers to those questions until the end of the novel.

Harry Dolan has crafted an exciting, taut first novel. There are many twists and turns in the plot, what appears plausible in one chapter is explained away in another, and I was always trying to figure out whether this latest version of the story was the truth.  The story is skillfully told, and its characters are appealing.  There are inside jokes, such as the derivation of the hero’s last name, which will either make you feel like an insider or make you feel that you need to go to your local library or bookstore and re-read some of the classics.

I can’t decide if Dolan is planning to make David Loogan the hero of a series or if this is a one-shot deal.  In either case, he has written a first novel well worth reading.

You can read more about Harry Dolan at his web site.