Harry Dolan's first book, Bad Things Happen, is a terrific fun read. While not exactly a John Dickson Carr "locked room" style-book, it does echo Agatha Christie and Rex Stout from the golden age of mystery.On one level the book is a serious crime story with fully fleshed out characters and on another level its a juicy skewering of crime writers and their pretensions. The plot is as twisty as a backroad on a Greek isle and as slick as a tube of Brylcreem.
David Loogan, escaping a troubled past, finds himself in Ann Arbor, Michigan working as an editor for Gray Streets magazine. This mystery mag is owned by the elusive Tom Kristoll, and Loogan, in short order, finds himself knee-deep in an affair with Kristoll's alluring wife and bound up in murder and mayhem. The foul deeds pile up and seem to repeat scenarios from stories he is editing in the magazine.
The local homicide detective, Elizabeth Waishkey, is on the scene and her cat and mouse game with Loogan gets murkier by the minute. Is he a murderer or an ally in solving the puzzling murders? Reading this clever, densly plotted book was a real treat. Any readers looking for a good summer vacation read will enjoy this neo-drawing room mystery.
Harry Dolan will be at The Poisoned Pen on July 13th with his new book. (Very Bad Men $26 Signed) Look for a review in an upcoming blog. For further reading in this vein I suggest a return to the afore-mentioned masters, Christie, Stout, and Carr. - STEVE SHADOW SCHWARTZ