Harry Dolan’s first book is not one that I normally would pick up. It didn’t seem to be something I would find all that awfully interesting. So when I received a copy, I began it with some trepidation. However, I could not have been more wrong about my original fears of the novel.
David Loogan is a mystery. He arrives in Ann Arbour, Michigan, and doesn’t speak much of his past. After arriving there, he writes a story and begins a friendship with Tom, the editor of the magazine Gray Streets. And the one night, David gets a call from Tom, asking for a favor. Tom has a dead body on his hands, and needs help disposing of it. Yet this is far from the last death, as only days later Tom dies too. As the murders pile up, David becomes more and more of a suspect, as all of the deaths involve him and Gray Streets. On the run, David pieces together the clues to solve the chain of mysteries, and prove that he is innocent. As he tries to prove it, however, we learn that his past isn’t as free of taint as one might expect.
Bad Things Happen reads nothing like a first novel. Dolan slowly fleshes out characters, leading the reader along without much information, and delivering each character trait and the time when it will do the most for the story. The mystery he creates is complex and intricate, and each time you think the case is solved, you are given one more key fact that tears it all down again.
Forcing David to run, Dolan adds strong thriller elements to his powerful mystery, and touches of humor even manage to find their way into the tale. Dolan proves to be adept at creating believable characters, as well as playing out the plot to each and every nuanced piece. Far from being something I feared I wouldn’t like, Bad Things Happen convinced me that I should read more like this. Harry Dolan is an author to watch, and if the rest of his novels measure up to this one, he has a brilliant career ahead of him. Look for this novel to be on the shortlist for all of the major awards for mystery fiction. It is that good.