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Bad Things Happen Hardcover – July 23, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (July 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399155635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399155635
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Dolan gets everything right in his debut, a suspense novel that breathes new life into familiar themes. The enigmatic David Loogan, who's recently moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., has stumbled into an editing job for Gray Streets, a mystery magazine, after anonymously submitting a short story. One night, Loogan's boss, Tom Kristoll, asks him for help in disposing of a corpse. Loogan goes to Kristoll's house and does so, despite his suspicions that Kristoll's account of how the man ended up dead is incomplete at best. When Kristoll later dies in a fall from his office window, the police mark Loogan, who's been having an affair with Kristoll's wife, as a person of interest. Pitch-perfect prose and sophisticated characterizations drive the noirish plot, which offers plenty of unexpected twists. Fans of Peter Abrahams and Scott Turow will find a lot to like. While the solution may strike some as a tad improbable, the talent Dolan displays suggests he has a bright future. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Compared to works by Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, and Patricia Highsmith, Bad Things Happen rated as a "brilliant first novel" (Chicago Tribune) and "the best first novel [of the] year" (Washington Post) among most critics. They praised Dolan's crisp, minimalist prose and well-developed, flesh-and-blood protagonists. Dolan's intricate plot, full of surprising twists and turns, eschews showdowns and shootouts in favor of droll dialogue and a noirish, Chandleresque tone. Though the San Francisco Chronicle deplored the glut of subplots and secondary characters, most reviewers agreed that Dolan's debut effort is stylish, sharp-edged, and suspenseful. "It's probably too clever to be blockbuster material," lamented the Washington Post, but readers in search of a literate mystery are in for a treat.

More About the Author

Harry Dolan is the author of BAD THINGS HAPPEN (Putnam, 2009), VERY BAD MEN (Putnam, 2011), and THE LAST DEAD GIRL (Putnam, 2014). He graduated from Colgate University, where he majored in philosophy and studied fiction-writing with the novelist Frederick Busch. He grew up in Rome, New York, and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Customer Reviews

Too many characters.
Julie McGhee
The twists toward the end of the story kept me reading, and I felt satisfied by the conclusion of the story.
A. Luciano
I thought the characters were well developed and the plot was full of twists and turns.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Some books are delicious. BAD THINGS HAPPEN is black caviar on 'wry' toast with an extra twist of lemon. Even the plot twists have twists. Mystery fans are in for a treat -- reading this book is like having a glass with a fizzy drink and knocking it down and realizing -gulp- that it was premium champagne!

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!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on June 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First time novelist Harry Dolan has hit the jackpot with this witty page-turner of a detective novel set in the college town of Ann Arbor. The plot revolves around a mystery magazine, Grey Streets, published out of Ann Arbor, and the owner, his wife, an editor, secretary, and the various writers that write regularly for the magazine. When the owner of the magazine apparently jumps to his death out of his office window, the police quickly discover that he was in fact murdered, setting off a dizzying chain of events that will keep the reader up till late at night. Dolan creates a variety of intriguing characters, including an editor with a mysterious past, an appealing female police detective, a lesbian mystery writer, etc., who have complex interrelationships that will keep the reader guessing as to who is responsible for the string of murders in the novel.

Highly recommended--an entertaining thriller that is sure to keep the reader on the edge of his seat.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Harry Dolan's "Bad Things Happen," David Loogan is trying to stay under the radar because of something that happened in the past. He rents a house in Ann Arbor and takes a job as an editor for "Gray Streets," a mystery magazine. We do not know much about Loogan, except that he is nervous, afraid of the dark, and has a habit of looking over his shoulder. One day, a colleague asks him to commit a shocking crime and, for some reason, he complies. The plot thickens when the murdered bodies of people connected with "Gray Streets" start to pile up, and Loogan, among others, is a suspect. Yet, he goes ahead and makes another questionable decision--to solve the crimes himself, rather than rely on the police to identify the guilty party.

"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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
David Loogan lives and hides in Ann Arbor in hope of moving past a violent history that he knows he will never forget. He begins to write a short story for Gray Streets literary crime-fiction journal. Though he never finishes the project, the magazine publisher Tom Kristoll likes what he has seen. He offers David a position as an editor, which he accepts. David, Tom, and his wife Laura become friends.

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".

Harriet Klausner
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