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Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan

Very Bad Men (2011)

by Harry Dolan

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1813465,444 (3.79)30



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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Quite enjoy Harry Dolan's writing, and this trilogy involving a smart guy named David Loogan. (Very Bad Men is actually the 2nd book, but the latest goes back in time.) This story involves an old bank robbery, murders, an old politician (and the candidate likely to fill his spot), as well as great dialogue and action. With Dolan's Loogan, the reader is never quite sure how the story is going to unfold. This book is a good one! ( )
  Randall.Hansen | Apr 17, 2016 |
This is the follow up to Dolan's excellent "Bad Things Happen", with a core of returning characters.
David Loogan has recovered from the events in the previous book & is living a more settled life. He shares a home with Elizabeth, a detective & her teen daughter Sarah. He's now the senior editor at "Gray Streets", a crime fiction magazine & is used to receiving unsolicited manuscripts. But not like this one.
He's left a short story about 3 murders: 2 down & 1 to go. The details of the second one catch his eye as the address is the same as the call Elizabeth just took about a dead body. When they look into the first one, they find that man was also killed a few days ago. They scramble to locate the third man listed & are able to save him after he's attacked. Then the digging starts.
The three men have something in common. Seventeen years ago, they attempted a bank job in Sault Ste. Marie that went horribly wrong. A cop showed up to do his banking & before it was all over, one robber was dead, one got away, these three were caught & the cop was shot. The get away driver who escaped was never identified & the cop ended up in a wheelchair. His daughter is now running for senator & the whole thing is being dredged up by the press.
Into the investigation stumbles Lucy Navarro. She works for a tabloid & what she lacks in experience she makes for in persistence. Although she's less than forthcoming, David takes a shine to her & is more than a little worried when she disappears.
In alternating chapters, we meet Anthony Lark, the man responsible for the growing pile of bodies. We know from the start he's the killer but it's only as the story progresses we learn about him & his motivation.
As Elizabeth & david come at the investigation from different perspectives, the names of influential people start to pop up, making them wonder who is really behind the whole mess. David focuses on finding Lucy while Elizabeth leads the local detective squad. And before long she begins to think her colleagues in Sault Ste. Marie aren't telling her all they know.
The plot is extremely complex with twists & hidden agendas everywhere. But it never feels muddled. Instead the author leads you through, slowly revealing clues & alliances that will alter what you thought you knew, as more details come to light. Not everyone is who they say they are & when old relationships are uncovered it completely changes the focus of the investigation.
This is a smart, taut, well written thriller that will keep you on your toes. Once I started, I didn't want to put it down because I just had to know how it would end. We know the identity of the killer from the get go but that didn't diminish the tension at all as we realize there is a much larger & far reaching conspiracy at work.
The prose is clean & uncluttered. It flows so well that the pages fly by, pulling you into the story. The characters are fully realized & whether you like them or not, they feel real. You may also be surprised by how your feelings about some of them do a complete 180 by the end.
This is a book that sucks you right in. The fast pace action is complimented by subtle clues & surprising twists. Add a clever plot & compelling cast & you've got an entertaining read that keeps you guessing 'til the end. ( )
  RowingRabbit | Sep 14, 2014 |

A second mind-bending case for Ann Arbor editor David Loogan that begins just as simply and ominously and takes the reader on just as wild a journey.

Anthony Lark’s mission is simple: to kill three of the men involved in a fatally botched bank robbery 17 years ago. He’s already dispatched two of his targets—an impressive feat, considering that one of them, Terry Dawtrey, is serving 30 years in Kinross Prison—when he identifies them both and announces his third, nurse practitioner Sutton Bell, in an anonymous letter to Loogan (Bad Things Happen, 2009), who promptly shares it with his ladylove, police detective Elizabeth Waishkey. The timely intervention of aspiring tabloid reporter Lucy Navarro saves Bell from Lark’s initial attempt and gives Dolan a chance to fill in some back story. Lark’s motives are obscure, but they have something to do with U.S. Senate candidate Callie Spencer, whose father Harlan was the Chippewa County Sheriff shot and paralyzed in the bank robbery and whose father-in-law, John Casterbridge, is the senator she hopes to succeed. Lark keeps coming nerve-wrackingly close to killing Bell; Loogan and Elizabeth keep coming heartbreakingly close to catching Lark; and yet the tale still goes on. To divulge any more about the plot would spoil some of the dozens of surprises Dolan springs. But it’s not too much to say that nearly every cast member, however minor, is complicit in some crime; that nearly every one, even though they’re all rooted in excruciatingly familiar generic types, gets a chance to reveal unexpected depths; and that Dolan mixes his pitches with an ace’s judgment, steadily complicating Lark’s quest while keeping the psychology of his characters considerably more plausible than in Loogan’s equally baroque debut.

The rare crime novel with something for everyone who reads crime fiction.

Tom Nolan
July 16, 2011

In the early days of detective fiction, readers devoured mysteries to find out who-done-it. As the genre matured, why-done-it became just as important, and more mysteries came to read "like a novel," growing as complex as mainstream fiction, or life itself.

Consider the ambiguity suggested in the name of the crime-fiction magazine edited by David Loogan, the semi-narrator of Harry Dolan's smooth and appealing second novel, "Very Bad Men" (Putnam, 412 pages, $25.95): It's called Gray Streets—neither noir nor blanc.

Loogan, who figured in Mr. Dolan's well-received debut book, "Bad Things Happen," gets drawn into this twist-filled adventure via a confessional manuscript left at the door of his Ann Arbor, Mich., office, a "story" that begins: "I killed Henry Kormoran in his apartment on Linden Street." Even as Loogan reads this sentence, his police-detective girlfriend, Elizabeth, is investigating the scene of Kormoran's murder. Soon David and Elizabeth are in parallel pursuit of the latest would-be contributor to Gray Streets. Their inquiries entangle them in the aftermath of a 17-year-old bank robbery and the present-day political campaign of the daughter of that robbery's handicapped and retired hero-cop.

The literate Loogan, who carries a Swiss Army knife instead of a gun and can improvise a weapon out of 500 sheets of recycled bond-paper, strikes an engaging tone between hard-boiled and whimsical: "What can you say about a woman who wears a yellow dress to break into an office at night?" he muses. "How bad can her intentions be?"

Loogan's first-person narrative sections alternate with third-person chapters detailing the acts and thoughts of the synesthesia-suffering, headache-prone serial-killer who seems to be wreaking most of the book's havoc. ("The ache behind his eyes had begun to twist itself into a hangman's knot.") The characters in this engaging work are full of surprises, but most startling of all is the way an apparent villain becomes a heartbreaking would-be champion. Truth can be stranger than fiction, especially on Mr. Dolan's gray but vivid streets.

"A second mind-bending case for Ann Arbor editor David Loogan that begins just as simply and ominously and takes the reader on just as wild a journey. . . . The rare crime novel with something for everyone who reads crime fiction." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Smooth and appealing . . . [A] twist-filled adventure . . . The literate Loogan, who carries a Swiss Army knife instead of a gun and can improvise a weapon out of 500 sheets of recycled-bond paper, strikes an engaging tone between hard-boiled and whimsical."-- Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
  meadcl | Jan 17, 2014 |
I guess I am with the masses at 4 stars. The plot is interesting with a vast array of characters and a vast array of murders.. It reads easy and there are a satisfying series of plot twists. But the author rehashes events from earlier in the book too much - (How many times do we have to hear about that bank robbery 17 years ago? Yes, I know no one could identify the driver) Don't get me wrong, it really is a good mystery and will read the author's first book but it was a tad long. (400 pages+) ( )
  muddyboy | Sep 14, 2012 |
“We all want to be known. To be seen for who we really are.”

This is the premise of Harry Dolan’s hardboiled sequel to Bad Things Happen. David Loogan is no longer the shadowy isolated figure he was in the first book and has managed to move on from his past… almost. He has built up a life for himself in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Detective Waishkey and her 16 year-old-daughter, Sarah… almost. A great many things about his life are a near thing.

Loogan is now editing the mystery magazine Grey Streets, which was the site of his troubles in the last book and, quite literally, where the new ones begin. A manuscript with a killer hook (sorry – the pun was irresistible) is left on the doorstep of his office describing the murder of two men and ending with the threat of another. The murderer is working his way through a hit list, taking revenge on a robbery that ended badly 17 years ago. Callie Spencer’s father is an ex-cop who was paralysed during the crime. She is now a senate candidate and is desperately trying to keep old secrets hidden. Callie is somehow involved in the recent murders, but is she simply a motive for a madman’s actions or a participant?

Although Dolan mentions the nightmares that Loogan still suffers from, I did miss the darkness of Loogan’s character in Bad Things Happen. Very Bad Men is told in the present tense, from Loogan’s point of view, yet is nevertheless interspersed with scenes told in the third person, which he can’t possibly have witnessed. This may not bother anyone else, but I did find it a bit confusing. I suppose this decision could be explained away by the fact that Loogan also writes short stories so he may have embellished his account with what he learns afterwards, but for the most part it simply didn’t make sense. The narrative tone was simply at its strongest when told through Loogan’s voice.

That having been said, the narrative is deliciously rife with guilt and dry one-liners. The terse prose is reminiscent of some of the best hardboiled classics. I loved that Dolan didn’t let his protagonist stagnate after the end of the first book, but allowed Loogan to progress naturally and build plausible relationships with characters the reader has already come to care for. Dolan is a master of pacing and is always one step ahead of the reader.
Aside from a few weaknesses, it’s a great read. ( )
  BookGirlVL | Aug 16, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399157492, Hardcover)

From the national bestselling author of Bad Things Happen -- the debut that Stephen King called a "great f***ing book" -- comes a new crime novel that will blow readers away...

ANTHONY LARK has a list of names -- Henry Kormoran, Sutton Bell, Terry Dawtrey. To his eyes, the names glow red on the page. They move. They breathe. The men on the list were once involved in a notorious robbery. And now Lark is hunting them, and he won't stop until every one of them is dead.

DAVID LOOGAN -- editor of the mystery magazine Gray Streets -- is living a quiet life in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with Detective ELIZABETH WAISHKEY and her daughter. But soon David and Elizabeth are drawn into Lark's violent world. As Elizabeth works to track down Lark, David befriends LUCY NAVARRO, a reporter with a crazy theory about the case that threatens to implicate some very powerful people. And when Lucy disappears without a trace, David decides her theory may not be so crazy after all...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:43 -0400)

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Mystery magazine editor David Loogan receives a sinister manuscript that begins with a murder confession and names individuals who are being stalked and killed for their involvement in a notorious robbery years earlier.

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