Bad Things Happen (David Loogan Series #1)

Bad Things Happen (David Loogan Series #1)

3.9 66
by Harry Dolan

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"Witty, sophisticated, suspenseful and endless fun...the best first novel I've read this year." -Washington Post

"A hypnotically readable novel, with...dialog worthy of Elmore Leonard."—Douglas Preston

The man who calls himself David Loogan is hoping to escape a violent past by living a quiet, anonymous life in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But when


"Witty, sophisticated, suspenseful and endless fun...the best first novel I've read this year." -Washington Post

"A hypnotically readable novel, with...dialog worthy of Elmore Leonard."—Douglas Preston

The man who calls himself David Loogan is hoping to escape a violent past by living a quiet, anonymous life in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But when he's hired as an editor at a mystery magazine, he is drawn into an affair with the sleek blond wife of the publisher, Tom Kristoll-a man who soon turns up dead.

Elizabeth Waishkey is the most talented detective in the Ann Arbor Police Department, but even she doesn't know if Loogan is a killer or an ally who might help her find the truth. As more deaths start mounting up-some of them echoing stories published in the magazine-it's up to Elizabeth to solve both the murders and the mystery of Loogan himself.

"Fans of Peter Abrahams and Scott Turow will find a lot to like."—Publishers Weekly(starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
…droll and delightful…If I say that the novel is as well plotted as Agatha Christie at her best, I don't mean to make it sound old-fashioned; it's not. Even more than Christie, this novel reminded me of Patricia Highsmith…It's witty, sophisticated, suspenseful and endless fun—a novel to be savored by people who know and love good crime fiction, and the best first novel I've read this year.
—The Washington Post
Marilyn Stasio
…you better believe [Dolan] has a gift for storytelling. Although the plot is fairly outlandish, the narrative comes with startling developments and nicely tricky reversals. There's also something appealingly offbeat about the wry, dry tone of its academic humor, which has much to do with the self-important authors who figure in the hectic plot
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Dolan's highly praised debut has shades of Elmore Leonard in its realistic dialogue that is at once over-the-top but true to form. The story takes place in Ann Arbor, Mich., where David Loogan has just accepted a position at Gray Streets mystery magazine—and embarked on an affair with his new boss's wife. It's not long before bodies begin turning up left and right, and a young investigator is involved. Abby Erik Davies delivers a performance so raw and exposed that listening becomes less a choice and more a compulsion. It's brilliant on every level. A Putnam hardcover (Reviews, May 25). (July)
Library Journal
Shortly after a man who calls himself David Loogan arrives in Ann Arbor, he gets a job as assistant editor to Tom Kristoll and begins sleeping with Tom's wife, Laura. Then Tom asks him to help bury a body lying in the office of Gray Streets, the mystery magazine they edit. When Tom is found dead six floors below his office window, Det. Elizabeth Waishkey begins to investigate—and so does Loogan. Several other murders occur, all of which seem linked somehow to Gray Streets and to its various authors. Loogan himself becomes a suspect and potential victim but continues investigating while on the run from the police. Dolan has fun contrasting real and fictional detecting, and all the characters are keenly aware of this, too. VERDICT For a debut novelist, Dolan, a freelance editor, is unusually skilled in narrative. His humor shows not only in the fiction-vs.-reality theme but also in the twists and turns of plot and language that keep the characters and the reader guessing—and engrossed. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy twisty and witty crime thrillers. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 3/1/09.]—Roland Person, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Kirkus Reviews
Dolan's debut thriller begins simply enough, with two men burying a third in a forested section of Ann Arbor's Marshall Park. From there, it gets ever more loopy, far-fetched and baroque. Rolling stone David Loogan (not his real name) has been working as an editor for the literary magazine Gray Streets. He has a good relationship with his boss, Tom Kristoll, and an even better relationship with his boss's wife. But he's a secretive man who keeps to himself, and that doesn't change when Tom asks him to help dispose of a body. Michael Beccanti was an ex-con with a long history of break-ins who came to his office to rob him, Tom explains; he bashed the intruder in self-defense. It's not long before David discovers that Tom's story is a tissue of lies, but by then the body is resting in Ann Arbor's good green earth, followed shortly by the remains of Tom, who allegedly took a header out his office window. Police detective Elizabeth Waishkey, not fooled by the suicide angle, identifies the obvious suspect in Tom's murder just in time to hear that he's died as well, apparently by his own hand. Though David and Elizabeth are clearly attracted to one another, their investigations take them in separate directions, a divergence that becomes even more pronounced when a retired New York cop turns up with a story about David's past that sends his quarry packing. Although the resulting tale fits Tom's definition of Gray Streets fiction-"Plans go wrong, bad things happen, people die"-Elizabeth keeps telling David that "this isn't a story in Gray Streets," and she's right. There are far too many violent deaths, plot twists, ghostwriters, red herrings, guilty secrets, false theories, unconnectedmurderers, come-from-nowhere revelations and 11th-hour switcheroos for any self-respecting literary journal. On the other hand, Dolan has provided a seven-course banquet for readers with a taste for deliriously overplotted pulp with just enough polish to keep them from feeling guilty.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
David Loogan Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years


What People are Saying About This

Douglas Preston
"From the astringent first sentence -- 'The shovel has to meet certain requirements' -- Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan builds like a Midwestern thunderhead into an atmosphere of darkness, dread, and impending doom. It is a hypnotically readable novel, with richly wrought characters, a corkscrew plot, and dialog worthy of Elmore Leonard. What a breathtaking debut."--(Douglas Preston, author of The Monster of Florence and Blasphemy)
Nelson DeMille
"A wonderfully moody and atmospheric story reminiscent of the masters of the noir mysteries. Tightly plotted, sophisticated, and engrossing, this is a winner."
James Patterson
"Bad Things Happen is a very smart, well-written roller coaster ride that is always threatening to hurl the reader out into roaring empty space. Go along for the thrill ride!"
Karin Slaughter
"Bad Things Happen is a tense read that keeps you tightly in its grip until the very last page. Harry Dolan has written an incredibly rich, smart read reminiscent of A Simple Plan or Presumed Innocent -- not to mention that it's just a damn good story. Readers are in for a breathless ride."

Meet the Author

Harry Dolan graduated from Colgate University, where he majored in philosophy and studied fiction-writing with the novelist Frederick Busch. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently works as a freelance editor. He grew up in Rome, New York, and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his partner Linda Randolph.

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Bad Things Happen 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
DLP313 More than 1 year ago
Bad Things Happen is twisty in the very best kind of way, and will hold your attention on every page. The story is a about an enigmatic man named David Loogan who is a new resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan and his experiences that begin with his employ at a mystery magazine. What ensues from there involves many well-drawn and interesting characters and a lot of fun. Dolan is great at describing things without being flowery or too wordy, and I liked that a lot. Dolan gives you just enough information to pique your interest, not hit you over the head with it. Personally, I read a lot of mystery/thrillers and am on average pretty good at guessing what's going to come next in a story. Dolan on the other hand, kept me guessing...and I loved it. Definitely a recommended read.
AIM78 More than 1 year ago
I'm an avid mystery reader who shies away from the mickie dees of mystery novel writers (whom shall remain nameless). Bad Things Happen moved from JUST a mystery novel and into an original literary masterpiece with twists and turns at the end of each chapter. I read the book in just shy of 48 hours. Best darn book I've ever read!
ScarletSM More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It was a bit different from the typical murder mystery. The locale of Michigan with the possible suspects being the mystery writers at a magazine was a nice change from the stately home or the grim dark streets. The lead character was one that seems to grow on you and makes you slowly change your opinion about him. Hopefully, Mr Dolan is writing a sequel with the same character. I'll be watching for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great novel of suspense with twists and turns throughout. Half way through I found myself looking for more books by the author.
DFC12481 More than 1 year ago
This is a solid read. I kept wanting a little more action, yet I found myself continuously turning the page. Many characters are introduced, but the development of each character is solid. All in all, a great read.
Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
David Loogan is a mysterious sort hiding a past. He recently moved to Ann Arbor and works on a novel in his spare time. As each revision is finished he takes a printed copy to a publishing house (Grey Streets) and leaves it anonymously through a transom window over a door. One day he is found out by the Grey Street's publisher (Tom), who offers him a job as an editor. Such is the fun way that things occur in this murder mystery. David is enticed into an affair by Tom's wife, Laura. Not that long after David is asked by Tom to do him a "favor" and help him dispose of body. David doesn't really question Tom or make him call the police. Instead David agrees to help Tom and bury the body where it cannot be found. Shortly after people start being murdered and the police start suspecting that David is involved. The investigation is led by a single mother (Elizabeth) that has an attraction to David even though she knows he is hiding something. David does indeed have a checkered past, which is obvious but the question is whether David is actually bad or the victim of some bad luck in his past. As the bodies pile up, the main suspects seem to be those who write for Grey Streets. Elizabeth investigates them and seems to get advice from each one akin to solving a mystery in one of their books. The suspicion seems to shift from one person to the next and everything seems to be tied to a flashdrive and file box that the first victim had. I really liked this book and would have given it a full five stars but as the plot unfolded, some things though fun, seemed a little over the top. This is a rather fast read and a good beach novel.
FashionistaNYC More than 1 year ago
Off to a slow start but picks up momentum ... a really good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big mystery reader but this one blew my socks off. I loved it! So many twists and turns. Really well done.
DeDeFlowers More than 1 year ago
I have super mixed feelings on this novel. Bad Things Happen was good enough where it held my attention and I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but something was definitely missing. I kept saying while reading that it wanted to be a Hammet novel, but it wasn't. Things are half developed a lot of the time. This is a face paced book once you get about half way through.
GinaK More than 1 year ago
I read this book through, which is a plus, considering my hectic schedule. I preferred the tone at the beginning when the hero was a mystery man. However, the complicated plot wasn't completely satisfying, and the more human the hero became, the less I liked the book. I would have preferred the initial tone throughout.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Harry Dolan's novel "Bad Things Happen" is a suspenseful story that begins with the purchase of a shovel which makes us wonder if the purchaser is going to bury a body. But is David Loogan, a killer or the killer. As the story unfolds we learn more about Loogan; why the mysterious past and why was he buying a shovel for his boss, Tom Kristoll, the editor of a literary magazine. Soon people connected to the magazine are being found killed, but why? Detective Liz Waishkey is trying her hardest to solve the murders. This is a mystery story with various layers of mysteries that keep the reader guessing right to the end!
Didun More than 1 year ago
Many people are murdered in this book - the plot is very confusing because of all of the people involved, and the twists and turns make your head spin. Many of the characters had ridiculous names also - names you would never come across in real life. The only character I really liked was Elizabeth Waishkey, the detective. Really quite annoying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this mystery! Not a swear word that I can remember. I also thought his second novel was great. While you are waiting for Harry Dolan's third book, you might want to read "think of a Number" by John Verdon and books by Robert Wilson. Daisy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the best book I've ever read, but really not all that great either. Probably would not recommend it.
gpolisner More than 1 year ago
I saw this book come to life during the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and have followed Dolan's blossoming career ever since. He's got this genre down, with a totally entertaining read sparkling with smart, quirky wit. Have at it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
David Loogan lives and hides in Ann Arbor in hope of moving past a violent history that he knows he will never forget. He begins to write a short story for Gray Streets literary crime-fiction journal. Though he never finishes the project, the magazine publisher Tom Kristoll likes what he has seen. He offers David a position as an editor, which he accepts. David, Tom, and his wife Laura become friends. Tom obtains David's help in dumping a corpse though the former does not believe the latter's explanation. Soon afterward Tom falls to his death from his office window. AAPD Homicide Detective Elizabeth Waishkey suspects David killed Tom especially when evidence surfaces that he slept with Laura. As other people associated with Gray Streets die, single mom Elizabeth focuses even more intensely on David, who conducts his own inquiry to uncover the killer before he is on trial. The fun in this terrific twisting serial killer investigative tale is the writers who are intelligent and witty until they become the star of someone else's plot. The story line is fast-paced and the amateur sleuth prime suspect and the obstinate cop chasing him makes for an intriguing duel. Mindful of the movies' Theater of Blood and Murder by Death, but less hammy, fans will enjoy Harry Dolan's fine thriller that as Vincent Price said (in Theatre of Blood) is "much ado about murder". Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the beginning, I was left wondering--in a good way--who this David Loogan was. A retired hit man? A criminal on the run from the law? How did he come to be in Michigan? While most of these questions are answered,it was interesting getting to know him, and I look forward to reading more books in the series and getting to know more about him. He seems to be a magnet for trouble, so it should be fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In a nutshell, this mystery was way too complicated for me. I enjoyed the writing style and characters but could never have figured out who did what. As a senior of 65, I require fewer characters, fewer suspects and fewer perps. I much prefer mystery's about events and circumstances where the emphasis is on the chase instead of the who done it. I was more interested in Loogan's life than who killed who. My fault for choosing this novel to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
While it did take me one month to finish this book, I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Yes, I just executed a double negative (the double dribble of the writing world) for those of you who only approve of appropriate grammatical choices. But I wanted to prove and emphasize a point. And my point is that I really did enjoy BAD THINGS HAPPEN. I was appropriately amused and entertained, as I filled my life with hugs and kisses and machine guns. David Loogan can juggle more than just oranges, and he has more than a few tales from a previous life. Some of which we learn, and some of which Harry Dolan probably holds back. Because why should you give up all the goods on the first date, or in this case a debut novel. You may flash your six pack at the woman across the bar, or maybe it’s just a smile and wink, but you don’t know how many other fellas she’s been with. And frankly you don’t need that kind of trouble with a crazy ex-boyfriend who pounds pills like he pounds heads. With temptations around every corner, it’s better to start running now. Sure, the blonde looks like a winner, but she might also whack you in the head with a shovel while you sleep. Or the detective may show you a nice pair of handcuffs, but you have more than a few reservations about being held against your will. The dialogue proved both realistic and entertaining; the story (once I really got into it) clicked along faster than a cowboy with an itchy trigger finger; the women and men had as much potential as they had flaws; and David Loogan, along with Elizabeth Waishkey, proved interesting enough that I hope they both stick around for a while. Oh, and the writing and editing tidbits weren’t lost on me. I sucked those up faster than honey from a spoon. Otherwise, it was just another story (shrugs), but a really good and entertaining one. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
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