Mar 2, 2011


taken from the Washington Post by PATRICK ANDERSON

Harry Dolan's droll and delightful first novel opens with a simple, ominous sentence: "The shovel has to meet certain requirements." This suggests the shovel in question may be intended for other than routine gardening chores. It suggests that, well, bad things may happen, which they soon do, in profusion. We learn that a man who calls himself David Loogan is in a store buying the shovel, rather furtively, and that he is an editor for a crime magazine called Gray Streets in Ann Arbor, Mich. We learn that he has bought the shovel because his boss, Tom Kristoll, the owner of the magazine, wants him to help bury a body. That's the first bad thing that happens.

Loogan likes Kristoll and feels guilty about having an affair with Kristoll's wife, Laura. So Loogan accepts his friend's story that he killed the man in his study in self-defense, and that it would cause too much of a fuss to call the police. They bury the man, whom Kristoll says is an ex-convict turned crime writer and extortionist. That, of course, is not remotely true.

For much of the book we don't know much about Loogan, except that he's 38, attractive to women and knows how to juggle. We get to know better the circle of writers and editors who are drawn to Gray Streets, odd characters with odd names like Nathan Hideaway, Rex Chatterjee, Bridget Shellcross, Casimir Hifflyn and Valerie Calnero. Unfortunately, as we get to know these people, they start experiencing death by murder. Tom Kristoll, the publisher, is only the next to go. READ MORE....

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