Title: Very Bad Men
Author: Harry Dolan
Release Date: July 7, 2011
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
David Loogan is still the editor of the mystery magazine Gray Streets and is living with Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter Sarah after the events of Bad Things Happen. When Loogan receives a manuscript in the mail that outlines three different killings, one of which has already occurred, Loogan must work with the police in the effort to stop a killer.
I love the premise of the David Loogan books – Loogan, as an editor of a magazine that publishes crime fiction stories and mysteries, is drawn into conflicts and situations by his readers. In Very Bad Men, Loogan receives a manuscript that begins with, “I killed Henry Kormoran.” A stunning first line, it is clear that Dolan knows how to draw readers into a novel, ensuring that he captures their attention sufficiently to unfold his plot.
But does Dolan keep readers entertained, after the wonderful promise of the beginning? Unfortunately, he is less successful at this than the reader would hope. The novel has multiple characters, all of whom are well drawn and carefully developed by Dolan, and they each seem to follow their own storyline that is a single thread of the overall plot. These disparate threads don’t come together and gel as well as they should, so at times, the reader feels like the book is spinning off in random and uncontrollable directions.
Loogan himself is as endearing as ever, though his deductive skills are put to the test in this novel. It becomes difficult because, more often than not, he is wrong in his suppositions and continually has to rethink what he knows. While it provides for some interesting twists and turns, having no idea what is going on becomes old after awhile. The reader is left with nothing firm to hold onto, and the book seems to just fall apart.
It’s a shame that Very Bad Men isn’t as well constructed as Bad Things Happen because it certainly has a gripping storyline. What kept me reading was the desire to know the truth behind the central mystery, which was very creative. The novel would have worked better for me if the key plot points were more tightly woven; the book could have been one hundred pages shorter and still achieved its goal. If you were a huge fan of the first book in this series, I would consider picking this one up, but otherwise I would wait for the next David Loogan book.