“I can feel the pressure,” acknowledges local mystery writer Harry Dolan, whose second thriller set in Ann Arbor, Very Bad Men, will be published July 7. His first, Bad Things Happen, came out two years ago to critical acclaim (“I was totally hooked!” blurbed Stephen King) and sold well enough to land on the Los Angeles Times best-seller list.
The success of Bad Things Happen allowed Dolan, forty-five, to quit his freelance job as managing editor of an academic journal and write full time. His detective, David Loogan, is a mystery magazine editor, amateur sleuth, and romantic partner of Ann Arbor police detective Elizabeth Waishkey. Loogan’s office is somewhere on Main Street near Cafe Felix–one of the real locales Dolan mixes with fictional places like the “Bridgewell Building,” home of the secretive Senator John Casterbridge, who may be covering up a murder.
Dolan humbly acknowledges the importance of persistence and luck in his success–he tried fifty agents before one agreed to represent Bad Things Happen. He lives on the outskirts of Ann Arbor with his partner, U-M computer consultant Linda Randolph, and says his small-town working-class background (he’s from Rome, New York, and his dad worked in construction) keeps him grounded. But waiting to see the response to his sophomore novel is tough for a self-described worrier. He’s coping by working on his third Loogan/Waishkey novel–which will probably also have “Bad” in its title.