Harry Dolan's Bad Things Happen is a difficult book to categorize--mystery, dark humor, spoof, pulp fiction--and a difficult book to summarize.
When we meet the man who calls himself David Loogan, he is in a hardware store buying a shovel to dig a grave. What we don't know is who or what has died and what Loogan has to do with it.
Becoming an editor for Gray Streets, a small crime-fiction literary magazine, wasn't even in the realm of possibilities when Loogan moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. But, as Tom Kristoll, the magazine's founder, says:
It's not like people go to school for it. No one sets out to be an editor. It's something that happens to you, like jaundice or falling down a well. (p. 13; eBook ed.)A half a year later, Loogan has memorized the central theme of the stories he works on: Plans go wrong. Bad things happen. People die. After individuals associated with the magazine start turning up dead, the survivors are left asking two questions: (1) What do we really know about another person? and (2) If this were a story in Gray Streets, what would happen next?
Dolan takes us on a dark and zany jaunt through the streets of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan campus. There are no white and black hats to tell us which team each character plays on. There is no linear progression of clues and events. It is a book of third ways:
"It's just something I've noticed," she said. "You're waiting for something to happen, and you expect it to go one of two ways. But you're wrong, because there's always a third way." . . .Bad Things Happen is a crazy, suspenseful, fun journey.
"What's the third way, then?"
"That's just it. You never know. . . . But we're going to find out." (pp. 76-77)
The audiobook edition (Penguin Audio) was narrated by Erik Davies, who was perfect for the novel. Davies keeps us guessing at the true nature of David Loogan and takes us smoothly from action scene to satire without crossing the line to silly. A great listen. Library Journal named Bad Things Happen one of the best audiobooks of 2009.
To learn more about Harry Dolan, see the book trailer, and read an excerpt, visit the author's website.
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.
For Audible.com and Simply Audiobooks, see the sidebar,
These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2009
Challenges: Amy Einhorn Reading Challenge, 100+
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)