Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: Bad Things Happen



When "the man who calls himself David Loogen" moves to Ann Arbor and takes a job editing stories for a murder mystery magazine, things start to get very complicated very quickly. Just as the magazine's publisher said of the stories they printed: "Plans go wrong; bad things happen; people die."

Bad Things Happen is Harry Dolan's neo-noir debut and a real treat for fans of literary mysteries. In this case, "literary" means more than good writing, droll dialog, and a sophisticated plot. The multiple victims and a dozen or so suspects all write for or are otherwise involved with Grey Streets magazine. Many have written mystery novels, the plots of which get dragged in as possible clues, along with guidance from Raymond Chandler, Alfred Hitchcock, and other mystery story icons.

Things get a little tangled up as Dolan explores every possible combination of who dun it. And the solution of one of the mysterious deaths remains unsettled in the end – perhaps as homage to Chandler's The Big Sleep, which suffers from the same glitch. But these minor drawbacks do not detract from this smart, stylish novel. More, please.



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