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)
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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.