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Bad Things Happen Hardcover – July 23, 2009
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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.
Top customer reviews
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Positives: The characters of Loogan and police detective Elizabeth Waishky are well written. The book moves at a good place, the dialog is lean and sharp, and the murders (all connected with a mystery magazine) are interesting.
Negatives: Even though the author is great at writing dialog, a lot of it appears in the most improbable of places. If you are looking at the sharp end of a stick, are you really going to stop to have a gabfest with the person holding the stick? The ending is too long, and the plot is unnecessarily complicated.
The major reason why I liked the book is Loogan, and I'll definitely read the third book in the series.
A man who calls himself David Loogan lives an anonymous life in Ann Arbor, MI. He meets Tom and Laura Kristoll, publishers of Grey Streets, a murder-mystery magazine, and after a time, becomes an editor. He builds a friendship with the Kristolls, and begins an affair with Laura. One night Tom asks for Loogan's help with a problem, and shortly thereafter, Tom winds up dead. And that's just the start of the mystery within a mystery within a mystery. Loogan tries to unravel the truth behind Tom's murder, and comes into contact with Detective Elisabeth Waishkey, who is investigating the crime.
I wish that some best-selling crime and mystery authors would read Dolan's book before writing another retread. Many of the characters have great depth to them and you don't know what to expect. That's what I loved about this book. I hope it's not too long before Dolan's next novel, and I hope that David and Elizabeth might return. Pick this one up if you're a fan of mystery/thrillers. You won't be disappointed.
Of course, he never would have realized that he would soon become part of the greatest mystery he might ever have to wade through! He had never been taught to be an editor--he also had never been taught to solve a murder. Especially the murder of the man who had just hired him!
David Loogan was not always David Loogan. He had legally changed his name after a violent incident from his past. When you meet him, however, you will wonder how that could be. He's calm, cool, collected and stays that way through most conversations. I enjoyed the dialogue whenever he was involved!
The Washington Post called this book the best first novel of the year (2013) so just assume I've written some gracious witty words to describe the book--LOL! Better I tell you more about it, right?!
So David is soon working with Tom, who is quite satisfied with his work as well as David. In fact, when he needed help, that was completely out of the business environment, Tom called David...
He needed him to help bury a body...
David was sent to get shovels and others things they would need. Even that didn't go well, since the cashier decided she had seen him before and started a conversation. Fortunately he realized she was flirting...but not before he "sees himself stabbing the blade into the base of the cashier's neck..."
When David reached Tom's home, he had told him what had happened. At least the story he wanted him to believe. But when David caught him saying one thing, he questioned Tom and got a different story. It was only later that David found out that even that was a lie and so was the name of the individual they'd buried!
Interestingly, David had been having an affair with Tom's wife but had stopped contact when he had started working for him...Now, he was confronting her: As the police would say, she was a person of interest. And David knew that he would do anything in his power to find out who had killed Tom...That meant talking to his former lover as well as all other employees at Gray Streets...
Including Tom's wife, there were four older employees who were now looking to keep the magazine going. They asked to meet with David and asked if he would step into the editor's position until they could determine what to do. Without thinking, David said he had thought they were going to ask him to investigate his death... But he then agreed to take the job for a time...
About that time, the police become very active in the investigation, so much so that the lead officer is constantly in conflict with David about staying out of it! Of course he doesn't, and they become attracted and fight off those feelings... At the end there is a date set up and I'm hoping that this police team reappear in the future...I enjoyed their interaction so much! I also enjoyed the three writers who were watching over the business now...not for liking them but for seeing them as being so appropriately created and seeing the potential of whether or not and which one, if any of them, could have done it...but, even though this sounds like a simple one central plot, it is not. So plan on working to keep things straight in your mind...who is writing what, are they really writing what is published...or...
As David gets further and further into what could have caused Tom's murder, the mention of a manuscript suddenly starts flavoring his thinking,,, And then more are murdered, all of which are related in some way--but how!?? And how about a little blackmail to mix up the pot of confusion?!! And then there's the tag game for "who's got the correct USB drive--and which is more important--the original or the edited book?!
This is such an exciting book--a page turner that hooks you from the first page when Tom starts buying the shovel and other items to bury the body of a man...on through the interviews, discussions and possibilities of solving one murder, then another, and then another... A thriller, yes! But, you know, I wonder how many writers out there are "dying" to get published... A great weekend Read!
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