Bad Things Happen
A David Loogan Mystery by Harry Dolan
Review: Harry Dolan's extraordinary debut novel, Bad Things Happen, has so many delightful twists and turns that many readers will, upon finishing it, no doubt start over and re-read it just to see what may have been missed the first time through.
The man who calls himself David Loogan is introduced on the first page as someone who doesn't want to be familiar. Nondescript. Unmemorable. Living alone in Ann Arbor (Michigan), and as a way to pass the time, he submits a short story to a local mystery magazine, Gray Streets. The publisher, Tom Kristoll, recognizes his talent and hires him to be an editor. The two become close friends … then one night Tom asks Loogan to help him bury a body. Loogan doesn't ask any questions — he's trying to remain relatively anonymous himself — but can't help but get involved when Tom's body is later found at the base of his office building, an apparent suicide. The investigating officer, Elizabeth Waishkey, suspects Loogan knows more about Tom's death than he initially lets on. That Loogan was having an affair with Tom's wife is certainly suspicious. But Loogan also has doubts about the mysterious circumstances surrounding how Tom died. And about that body they buried together: who was it, how did he die, and does his murder(?) have anything to do with Tom's death?
It is often tricky reviewing a book as intricately plotted as Bad Things Happen without revealing too much. As much as the mystery seems to revolve around Tom, the dead and buried body, and Tom's subsequent demise, it is impossible to lose sight of the fact that just who exactly is the man who calls himself David Loogan remains an unknown as well. And maybe more importantly, what role is he playing in the book? Is he a culprit (and if so, of what), or is he a victim? The cat and mouse game between Loogan and Detective Waishkey, especially after a couple more people turn up dead, is marvelously played out, and the conclusion, as befits such a terrific novel, is elegantly clever.
Thoroughly entertaining, Bad Things Happen will certainly be included on, if not at the top of, lists of the best mystery novels this year. It's that good.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of Bad Things Happen for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Very Bad Men
Putnam (Hardcover), July 2011
ISBN-13: 9780399157493; ISBN-10: 0399157492
Location(s) referenced in Bad Things Happen: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan — A David Loogan Mystery
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $24.95