Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan
Published by Amy Einhorn Books ISBN 978-0-399-15749-3
The Postmistress, Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, and Liane Moriarty's What Alice Forgot. All of these books have strong female protagonists, which is part of the appeal for me.
The latest book from the imprint has a male protagonist- Harry Dolan's Very Bad Men. It is the second novel in the series featuring David Loogan, an editor for a mystery magazine who lives with Elizabeth, a detective, and her teenage daughter Sarah, in Michigan.
Loogan gets drawn into the case of Anthony Lark, a man who has murdered two men and is on his way to murdering another. All of the dead men were involved 17 years ago with a bank robbery that went bad, leaving a robber and a cop dead, and another cop paralyzed from the waist down.
The story is told mainly from the points of view of Loogan and Lark. Both men are interesting characters, and seeing the story from each of their perspectives makes this a much stronger book.
Senate candidate Callie Spencer, whose father is the paralyzed cop, is involved in the murders. But is she a target, a participant in the murders, or is Lark trying to protect her? Lucy Navarro, a reporter for a tabloid newspaper, is snooping around, and Loogan becomes her protector of sorts. When she gets too close to the truth and disappears, Loogan gets angry.
Dolan takes care to create fully realized characters. I particularly enjoyed his portraits of the teenagers; Elizabeth's daughter Sarah, and Nick, the teenage son and brother of two of Lark's targets, were really on the money for me.
The mystery of why Lark is killing these men is complicated and the reason really comes out of left field. I have to say I had absolutely no idea where it would end up, but it was a crazy trip getting there. If the author left clues as to what motivated Lark to kill, I did not pick them up. I found it satisfying that I really did not know where he was going until the end.
This novel is crackling good literary crime fiction; it put me in mind of Sara Paretsky's novels. I'm going to seek out the first novel in the series and anxiously await the third one.
rating 4 of 5 stars