Very Bad Men

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I enjoyed Harry Dolan's The Good Killer and Bad Things Happen quite a bit. Same story here; he's got a knack for storytelling, occasional wry humor, intricate plotting, and didn't-see-that-coming twists.

It takes place after the events of Bad Things Happen (read that first). Sometimes-narrator David Loogan is still editing the mystery magazine Gray Streets and has moved in with Ann Arbor police detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her precocious daughter Sarah. He finds an anonymous submission propped up against the magazine's office door; the manuscript starts out with "I killed Henry Kormoran."

And the author, Anthony Lake, did kill Henry Kormoran. And he's on the hunt for other members of the gang that staged a botched bank robbery 17 years ago, one that left one police officer crippled, another dead. The killer is kind of messed up. He's not only a murderer, but thanks to a nasty case of synesthesia, he sees static black text on white paper animated with colors.

And he can't use adverbs.

David and Elizabeth start investigating (Elizabeth officially, David unofficially). This brings them to encounter a large array of interesting folks, including current Michigan senator John Casterbridge, who's retiring, and his daughter-in-law with whom (for unknown reasons), Lake is obsessed.

Consumer note: the hardcover's dust jacket flap copy (as well as the blurb at Amazon) describe a plot development that doesn't happen until page 220 or so. Over halfway through. More sensitive people might consider that non-kosher.

Further consumer note: at one point, a character speaks of the voting public's "black, flabby, little hearts." An author's note at the end says the character is quoting Robert Heinlein. (And a little research says he's specifically quoting Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love.) I don't know if this means that the author is a Heinlein fan, but I'd like to think so.

And even further consumer note: seemingly minor characters pop up along the way. Don't forget them, many turn out to be unexpectedly important.


Last Modified 2021-09-25 9:46 AM EDT