VERY BAD MEN – “But No Cigar!”

February 24, 2012

Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan

432 pages, $17.13

Publisher: Putnam

I am fussy about books I like and this one pulled me in several different directions. It takes place in Ann Arbor, where I went to graduate school. It is narrated by the editor of a mystery magazine. I have edited two magazines.

What I was suspicious of from the start was a change in point of view from first person to third (when the author wants to follow the serial killer, Anthony Lark). This seems like a gimmick to let the reader in on information the narrator doesn’t realize–to create tension.

But what proved disappointing was that there didn’t seem much Ann Arbor (or Michigan) setting, that the mystery story editor didn’t have any special ability because of his profession and, mostly, there were just way to many overlapping characters.

I read this on a Kindle so I know the story was only 80% complete–admittedly with many surprising twists and turns–when the author starts to straighten all the plot lines out and explain how many of the characters were more than they initially seemed. To be honest I had a difficult time keeping all the names straight.

I love it in the rambling Inspector Wallander mysteries when he gets his staff together and says, “All right, what have we got? Who have you talked with? What’s going on?” answering the befuddled reader’s difficulties. Let’s face it we are reading these books before going to bed and are not at our intellectual peak. A little of this kind of recapping would have helped this book a lot. We don’t want anyone playing down to us, but the mystery should be in the story, not in trying to figure out who the people are.

– John Lehman, Rosebud Book Reviews.com

Order this book directly from Amazon for $17.13. Click title below:

Very Bad Men


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