Book Review: Bad Things Happen

by Harry Dolan

Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2009

My Rating: A

Opening lines: The shovel has to meet certain requirements. A pointed blade. A short handle, to make it maneuverable in a confined space.

No, this is not a gardening book. The shovel is not going to be used for yardwork. It’s a mystery book about a man named David Loogan.

He calls himself David Loogan but it’s not the name he was born with. He has recently moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. At first, David just wanders around his new hometown, seeing the sights.

Just because it appeals to him, he decides to write a mystery story for a local mystery magazine. After making numerous changes to the manuscript, all of which he submits, the publisher, Tom Kristoll offers him a job as an editor.

David appears to be a quiet, private person but he can’t resist becoming friends with the amiable publisher. Nor can he resist being drawn into an affair with Tom’s wife, Laura. And, you can’t help noticing that a lot of people who are connected to the magazine are being murdered.

From the very first page the reader knows David is buying a shovel in order to bury a body. Can this quiet, private person commit a crime of passion? Did I mention that the murders committed are strangely similar to stories in the mystery magazine?

If you are a mystery buff, this is one you have to read. I had a hard time describing this book to you. On the one hand I loved this story and I want to tell you all about it. But, at the same time, I don’t want to spoil it for you. I really want everyone to read it. I tried hard not to tell you anymore than what you can read inside the book cover.

Bad Things Happen is more than a simple mystery. It felt more like contemporary literature with lots of mystery thrown in. The writing is superb. I liked all the smart dialogue that made me feel as if I were part of the conversation. The plot is clever with many twists and turns. The author has a subtle sense of humor, too. I’d read that there were disguised reference to other crime novels but I only caught a few. This is a great novel for people who love crime fiction but I’d highly recommend it to everyone who likes good literature.

The is Harry Dolan’s first novel although he’s been working as an editor for many years. His website is here. Hopefully he’ll give us another good novel soon.

I borrowed this book from the library. It’s also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

I read this book as part of the Amy Einhorn Reading Challenge. For more information, visit the challenge page at Beth Fish Reads.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, A Book, Amy Einhorn Challenge, Book Challenges, Books, Library Challenge, Mysteries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Book Review: Bad Things Happen

  1. Beth F says:

    I just know I’m going to love Bad Things Happen. — I wish it were already time for summer reading.

  2. You’ve made me want to run right out and grab this book! I love mysteries and I love contemporary literature and the combination of the two practically makes me swoon!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I have had a kick for mysteries recently but I am definitely drawn to literary mysteries, like Tana French, so this sounds like a good choice for me! Off to reserve it right now.

  4. Barbara says:

    It’s going on my list. Jeez Louise, I’ve got to donate a bunch of books to make room for everything on my wish list. And Dave said I would NEVER fill the bookcases he built for me. Hah!

  5. Bumbles says:

    Sound perfect! And if it was put out by Amy Einhorn, it must be good.

  6. This one is going on my TBR list. I’m looking for a mystery series that’s not a cozy. The last couple of mornings when I’ve visited here, I’ve gotten so carried away looking at your links that I forgot to come back and say hello. I always learn so much.

    Hope it’s OK if I reference your Favorite Places on a post today. I will come back on Sunday and add it here.

  7. Staci says:

    I really enjoy books that are set in Michigan so that is an added plus!! I think this one is right up my alley!

  8. I have to put this one on my wishlist – sounds great!

  9. caite says:

    hmmmmm…I am indeed a mystery buff….

  10. Stacy says:

    I’m going to look for this one pronto!

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