Reviewed by Alysia George

Very Bad Men, by Harry Dolan, is a mystery novel following the twisted journey of Anthony Lark, a heart-broken social outcast on a homicidal mission. Seventeen years in the past, there was a bank robbery, and Lark’s targets were all involved. At first it seems like yesterday’s news. But there is an election coming up, and one of the forerunners has a connection to the crime through her father, a former sheriff who was injured during the robbery.

When Lark decides to share his unfinished real life story with mystery magazine editor David Loogan, the course of his journey is changed. The romantic relationship between Loogan and police detective Elizabeth Waishkey allows him to be close to the case, and he quickly finds himself personally involved. He meets a reporter who is interested in the case because of its political ramifications, and the two of them become more enmeshed in the investigation than they should be.

Full of twists and turns, Dolan’s follow up to his bestseller Bad Things Happen kept me engaged and interested in the outcome. One of the questions I had while reading Very Bad Men was, “why is Lark so emotionally vested in a bank robbery from seventeen years ago”? I didn’t find the answer to that question to be altogether believable or enough to explain Lark’s murderous behavior. But I was kept on my toes throughout, trying to figure out what would happen next.

This book takes place in Michigan, and being a Michigander myself, I got a kick out of the local references. Prior to reading Very Bad Men, I hadn’t heard of Harry Dolan. Now I’ll be putting Bad Things Happen on my reading list, and I’ll be on the look out for more in the David Loogan series in the future.

Rating: 4/5

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Amy Einhorn/Putnam. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.