badthings“Bad Things Happen”
by Harry Dolan
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
2009

So do you ever get bored with a whodunit novel because by the first chapter you’ve already figured it out?  I do, and the more I read mysteries and detective stories it seems easier to figure out.  Well, this is definitely not the case with Harry Dolan’s debut novel “Bad Things Happen.”  In fact just when you think you’ve got it figured out Dolan throws in another possibility and suspect and red herring, you have to figure out which is which.  That’s what makes reading this book fun.

From the very first sentence, “The shovel has to meet certain requirements,” the reader is thrust into the world of mysteries, writers, publishers and murder.

David Loogan is a man with a past.  A past he doesn’t want anyone to know.  Maybe that’s a red herring or maybe that’s true.  Maybe he’s just a private person.  When asked what he does for a living he says he’s a gardener or a juggler depending on the person.  But when he picks up a copy of a magazine called “Gray Streets,” David becomes a writer.  David writes a story that fits into the realm of the magazine, full of whodunits, mysteries, murders and thrillers.  The magazine is published in Ann Arbor, where David has recently rented from a professor who is on sabbatical.

David takes the manuscript, in an unmarked envelope, and anonymously delivers it to the magazine’s editor.  The next day David rewrites the story making it a little better and does the same with the rewrite.  He does the same with a third re-write but this time when he goes to drop off the manuscript the owner of the magazine, Tom Kristoll,  catches him and makes David an offer to become editor of “Gray Streets.”  David and Tom hit it off and become good friends.  When David begins having an affair with Tom’s wife the future is changed.

Tom calls David late one night and asks for his help in burying the body of a man killed in Tom’s house.  Soon Tom is found murdered. (or is it suicide?) The primary suspect in what is probably a murder is found dead in his car, at first it looks like suicide but Elizabeth Waishkey, the homicide detective is not sold on that idea.  When the man who was supposed to have been buried by David and Tom shows up to help David solve the murder of Tom Kristoll the mystery moves on further.

With the constant turns and twists and subplots this is the kind of book that keeps you wondering what could possibly happen next.  Let me be the first to tell you that this book does not give up it’s secrets until the very end, and even then leaves you wondering.  This is one of those perfect reads that you need to snuggle down next to a warm fire and read the night away.

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