The Last Dead Girl

The Last Dead Girl

4.4 10
by Harry Dolan

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A Wall Street Journal Best Mystery of 2014!

David Loogan’s dark past is revealed in this prequel to Bad Things Happen—the critically acclaimed mystery that Stephen King called a “great f***ing book.”

On a rainy night in April, a chance encounter on a lonely road draws David into a romance with Jana Fletcher, a

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A Wall Street Journal Best Mystery of 2014!

David Loogan’s dark past is revealed in this prequel to Bad Things Happen—the critically acclaimed mystery that Stephen King called a “great f***ing book.”

On a rainy night in April, a chance encounter on a lonely road draws David into a romance with Jana Fletcher, a beautiful young law student. Jana is an enigma: living in a run-down apartment and sporting a bruise on her cheek that she refuses to explain. David would like to know her secrets, but he lets them lie—until it’s too late. 

When Jana is brutally murdered, the police consider David a prime suspect. But as he sets out to uncover the truth about Jana, he begins to realize he’s treading a very dangerous path—and that her killer is watching every move he makes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1998, this prequel to 2009’s Bad Things Happen puts Dolan’s gifts as a storyteller on full display. Series hero David Malone (who later becomes David Loogan) finds himself sitting in the Rome, N.Y., police station, the prime suspect in the investigation into the murder of Jana Fletcher, with whom he recently began an affair. David soon learns that Jana was involved with the Innocence Project, an organization committed to freeing the wrongly accused. Believing Jana’s murder to have some connection with her investigation of Gary Dean Pruett, a man convicted of killing his wife, David searches out those involved in the Pruett case for answers. Throughout David is secretly followed by K, an elusive, homicidal deviant who wants to stop David from discovering the truth. That K doesn’t just kill David right off doesn’t really make sense—after all, he has few qualms about murder—but if you can look past this detail, you’re in for a suspenseful ride. Agent: Victoria Skurnik, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Jan.)
The Wall Street Journal - Tom Nolan
"Absorbing, and unpredictable...Mr. Dolan's characters are human enough to catch you off-guard, and he makes the actions of even the creepiest ones believable.”
The Washington Post
“Dolan has a talent for ingenious, serpentine plots...Dolan is an inventive, offbeat writer who manages to provide an entertaining mystery...His David Malone novels deserve the praise they've received. Most likely, we'll keep learning more about the trouble-prone Mr. Malone for years to come."
Kirkus Reviews
Stung by discovering his fiancee's infidelity, an upstate real estate inspector walks out on her and into a relationship with a local law student--a relationship that turns even more intense with the student's murder. As he tells Detective Frank Moretti, David Malone knew Jana Fletcher for 10 days before her death. And as Moretti tells him, they'd been lovers for 10 days as well, and there's no suspect more obvious when David finds Jana strangled to death. Except for discovering her body, he insists he had nothing to do with her murder; more likely she was killed by whoever dropped the Popsicle stick in the woods nearby. Thanks to a series of cutaways to the perp's viewpoint, the reader doesn't have to take David's word for it. The killer, identified only as K, is indeed the man who's been watching Jana from the woods, warming up for her murder by snuffing Jolene Halliwell, a hooker who attached herself to him a little too insistently. In fact, as Moretti's compulsive investigation gradually reveals, Jana's death is only the latest in a string of violence that extends back two years--a saga that melds seduction, prostitution, drug dealing and kidnapping into an unholy mess swirling around unlovely high school teacher Gary Dean Pruett, whom Jana was determined to free from prison since she was convinced that he hadn't killed his wife, Cathy, even though he'd clearly been cheating on her with his (barely) former student Angela Reese. Nor has Jana's death brought this murderous string to an end. As in his first two thrillers (Very Bad Men, 2011, etc.), Dolan plays out the complications with a spider's patience. This time, however, an unmemorable culprit makes his infernal logic seem just a tad less inevitable, scary and remorseless.
From the Publisher
"Dolan's seemingly effortless prose sets off dialogue that surprises and delights, and his intricate plot is simply dazzling: a twisting, shifting labyrinth of events, characters, and motivations . . . every bit as good—if not better—than the first." —Booklist

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher


Praise for Bad Things Happen:
“You better believe [Dolan] has a gift for storytelling . . . the narrative comes with startling developments and nicely tricky reversals.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“[T]he novel is as well plotted as Agatha Christie at her best. . . . It’s witty, sophisticated, suspenseful and endless fun . . . the best first novel I’ve read this year.” —Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post
“Brilliant.” —Chicago Tribune
Praise for Very Bad Men:
“One of the ten best mysteries of the year.” —Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal

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The Last Dead Girl 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an enjoyable read with great twists.  Satisfied through the last word.  Going to read his other two books based on this novel.  If you like mystery books you'll love this won't be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good one, cant wait for his next !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well constructed and interesting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His best novel to date. Fantastic Murder Mystery! I got the book and finished it in a day I just could not put it down. You feel that you are in the story and can feel and see through the characters eyes. Would highly recommend this Novel. Can't wait for the next one.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
Billed as a prequel, this novel is a carefully constructed murder mystery which begins one night on a lonely dark road, a chance encounter between David Loogan, riding along in his truck, and Jana Fletcher, a young law student, standing next to her inoperable car. What follows is a brief 10-day love affair. Until one day David enters her apartment to find her lying on the living room floor, murdered. As usual, the lead detective suspects the boyfriend, but there is no proof. Released, David is fixated on learning the truth about Jana and follows his nose, investigating her past and discovering a death in the past that might be related to hers. The novel moves ahead straightforwardly, and the mystery unfolds so that it comes as no surprise when the killer is disclosed, but not before red herrings are introduced. It is a well-written story, well worth reading, and recommended.
Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
Those familiar with Dolan's previous work will realize immediately that this is a "prequel" to his David Loogan stories. Before he was Loogan, he was David Malone. David has a fight with his fiancee causing him to leave abruptly. While he is driving he meets Jana, whose car had struck a deer and is shaken up at the side of the road. David and Jana hit it off and he ends up moving in with Jana. Jana has some hidden secrets and gives the impression that she is being watched. David tries to find the "watcher" and only finds some discarded popsicle sticks. A few days later Jana is murdered and David is hauled in as a suspect by Detective Morretti. Morretti questions David and David suggests Morretti look for the "watcher" with the popsicle sticks instead. David goes to do his investigating thinking that a bruise that Jana had might be a clue. This leads him to Roger Tolliver, who Jana was working for. Tolliver is a college professor leading a group that tries to help "wrongly" convicted criminals by trying to find new evidence to overturn their cases. Jana was trying to help convicted killer Gary Pruit get a new trial. David is sure that Jana's investigation led to her murder as forces behind convicting Pruit may have wanted the case to stay closed and those forces needed to silence Jana. The author gives clues early on that this force may be a character only known as "K" (maybe the author is familiar with Franz Kafka). K is the "watcher" that David is searching for and is very much watching what David is doing. Dolan does a great job in keeping the mystery going and keeping the reader guessing. We are not really sure if Morretti is an inept detective or really a part of the wrong doings. I had a lot of difficulty putting this book down (as I did with Dolan's other two David Loogan books) and really enjoyed this book. The only thing that kept me from giving it the full five stars is the overuse of flashbacks and the fact that the flashbacks were not in a serial manner. This made some parts confusing as I tried to orient myself to the timeline the author was presenting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. Very well told murder mystery. Highly recommended author!
Anonymous 7 months ago
This novel kept me guessing for quite a while There are more than a few dead bodies in store for the reader. The plot twists and turns with every few chapters. All in all I found it a very enjoyable by Mr. Dolan. Going to make it a point to read his other efforts. J M Lydon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago