This Friday and every Friday for the next couple of months, I will be featuring a book that was published under the Amy Einhorn Books imprint. I am starting with the 2009 books and will spotlight them in alphabetical order.
Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan is a suspense novel that has won some critical acclaim, including starred reviews in Publisher's Weekly and the Library Journal. Here is the publisher's summary:
The man who calls himself David Loogan is leading a quiet, anonymous life in the college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He's hoping to escape a violent past he would rather forget. But his solitude is broken when he finds himself drawn into a friendship with Tom Kristoll, the publisher of the mystery magazine Gray Streets—and into an affair with Laura, Tom's sleek blond wife. What Loogan doesn't realize is that the stories in Gray Streets tend to follow a simple formula: Plans go wrong. Bad things happen. People die.There are a couple of things that interest me about this novel. First is the setting: I have visited Ann Arbor enough times that I'm sure to get a kick out recognizing landmarks. Furthermore, I live fairly close to another Big Ten campus, so I'll definitely pick up on any university references.
Elizabeth Waishkey is a single mother. She's also the most talented detective in the Ann Arbor Police Department. But when Tom Kristoll turns up dead, she doesn't know quite what to make of David Loogan. Is he a killer, or an ally who might help her discover the truth? Loogan suspects his friend's death is part of a much larger puzzle, and he's not going to wait for someone else to put the pieces together.
As Loogan and Elizabeth navigate their way through Kristoll's world, they find no shortage of people with motives for murder, from a young graduate student obsessed with Laura Kristoll to a trio of bestselling writers, all of them with secrets they don't want uncovered. But as the deaths start mounting up—some of them echoing stories published in Gray Streets—Loogan begins to look more and more like the most promising suspect. Soon it becomes clear that only Elizabeth can find the path to solving both the murders and the mystery of Loogan himself.
I also discovered that Dolan is a freelance editor, and that makes him a colleague. (Although I have no desire to write a novel.) I'm curious about the structure and style of the book, and I wonder if I'll be able to tell that it was written by professional editor.
Finally, the reviews I've read mention the book's humor, and I think a bit of comic relief can enhance a good mystery. As the Washington Post said: "there's an air of make-believe here, of fun. . . . [Dolan gives] us a witty send-up of the crime genre itself." That caught my attention!
Harry Dolan has a website, where you can find reviews, a biography, and an excerpt.
This book was featured as part of the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge (click to join the fun). For information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010.
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2009