The Last Dead Girl

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Culture-crudity landmark: a laudatory blurb on the back of a dust jacket can contain an f-bomb if said blurb is from Stephen King. (Apparently Steve was out of adjectives that day.)

This book is billed as a prequel in Harry Dolan's "David Loogan" series, based in Ann Arbor, MI, which I read and enjoyed. David's going by the name "David Moore" here, and it's set in a semi-fictional Rome, NY. I don't think the transition is explained, but it's understandable. NY David has the same deadpan delivery as I remember MI David having. The opening chapter has him under police interrogation:

“Why’d you kill the girl?” he said.

His tone was mild, bored, bureaucratic. I studied his face. He had dark hair cut short, a heavy brow, a long, fleshy nose. His skin was olive and he had gone too long without a shave. He must have been around fifty years old. His eyes looked tired.

“Seriously?” I said.

“Yes. Seriously.”

“Does that ever work for you?”

He tipped his head to the side. “Sometimes.”

“A cold open like that—‘Why’d you kill the girl?’—and then they just confess?”

“You’d be surprised what works.”

David's 10-day girlfriend, Jana, has been brutally murdered. Both the police and David are in the dark for either suspects or motive. But (thanks to Dolan's tricky narrative technique) we know the perpetrator is a sicko, who spied on Jana and David from afar. David becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer, making himself very unpopular with the cop above. And it puts even more of a strain on his relationship with his already-estranged fiancée. (Yes: a girlfriend and a fiancée. David's life is a complex one.)

Jana was a pre-law student, and (as it turns out) was working on an "Innocence Project" with one of her professors, examining the possible railroading of a husband for the murder of his wife. Is there a connection there? No spoilers, but come on, what do you think?

I mentioned the tricky narrative technique: it's mostly first-person from David's POV, but there are long stretches of third person from other characters' POV. And that occasionally includes flashbacks to years past.

I usually don't do this, but I said "Whoa" out loud, right at the top of page 170 (hardcover version). And thought: I really didn't see that coming. As in his other books, Dolan is fond of intricate plotting and seemingly-unimportant characters who turn out to be very important.

And, of course, a peril-filled climax. Definitely a page turner there.