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Bad Things

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  1,056 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
“Marshall recalls Stephen King’s ability to set a story in the world of the commonplace, then suddenly jolt it into a more hellish realm.”

New York Times

Bad things have always happened in Black Ridge, Washington—and Michael Marshall, the acclaimed, bestselling, Phillip K. Dick Award-winning author of The Intruders (“Scary brilliance” —Baltimore Sun) and Straw Men (“Brillia
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,826)
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So after a week filled with way too many doctor appointments and precious reading opportunity I decided to try this story based strictly off the title as the movie Very Bad Things with Christian Slater and Cameron Diaz is one of my all time favorite movies involving the trippy and sick ways a night gone wrong proved too much for all concerned--I kinda thought this story would be full of twists and turns and suspense and all that but never really got that..The story starts off with the unexplaine ...more
Jun 05, 2009 Marie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too much supernatural stuff for me
Mallory Heart Recommends
A stunning, riveting, multi-layered mystery-and-more, “Bad Things” is so complex and convoluted that I can only think of Brian Freeman’s mysteries in comparison. Set in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State, Oregon, then Washington State again), the settings and locales become every bit as important as the human characters; in fact, the settings are characters in their own right. Black Ridge, Washington and Marion Beach, Oregon-especially the former-are fully-fleshed, fully-dimensional charact ...more
When bad things happen to people is it because they deserve it? When bad things happen to you do you say to yourself “What did I do to deserve this?” The whole concept of action and consequence is brought into play… At least in your mind. In the case of Michael Marshall’s protagonist in Bad Things it seems that the very ultimate in bad things has happened, his four year old son has died. As an indirect result of this tragedy his marriage has ended and his legal career waylaid.

When we meet John H
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

John Henderson is waiting tables at a small restaurant in the Pacific Northwest,and house sitting for a friend in the area. It’s been three years since his young son died on Lake Murdo in Black Ridge,Washington,and he’s doing his best to live life and forget,when one day he receives an email that says simply “I know what happened.” Soon,John is pulled back to Black Ridge and meets a mysterious woman who claims the same thi
Feb 25, 2011 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Michael Marshall (Smith) since I read Spares quite a few years ago. I was expecting to like this book, but instead I loved it. Much like the Straw Men Trilogy, the action drives the book, but is not the main focus. Slowly and skillfully, Marshall morphs the story from possible paranoia to unfold the mystery and reveal the supernatural cause of the "Bad Things".
The plot itself was interesting but what blew me away was the writing itself. I was completely absorbed and did not
A very peculiar book. Plotwise it's messy and disjointed. The main story line starts off briskly enough but is then completely buried in the endless logistics of the main character's rushing around in the small town where bad things happen. The rushing around is meant to convey a sense of urgency, I think, but it's more like watching a soap opera. Every other page one character is about to divulge something terribly important to another, just to be suddenly interrupted or inexplicably leave. The ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Rose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very creepy. The bad things were indeed very bad. This was one of those stories where I just couldn't put the book down until I found out what happened or I'd be wondering & bothered all day so I read it in just a few hours. I liked how the theme of guilt & regret ran deep in the story of John Henderson. I've often thought those are 2 of the worst feelings in the world because there isn't much you can do to change them or get rid of them. Usually they come about through you ...more
Aug 02, 2014 Stephanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What an irritating book, hiding in the library, masquerading as a thriller no mention on the cover of supernatural claptrap. A really good story spoiled completely by a total cop out, rubbish, totally naff ending. I stopped the cd before the final little bit, this is the first time I've ever done that. I was so annoyed by it. What a load of codswallop grrrrrrrrrr. It was really good, forgivable in the bits where it lacked something, I suspected it would end how it did fairly close to the end but ...more
Del Johnstone
Very disappointed with this. I hadn't read any Michael Marshall since Intruders came out. I'd enjoyed that, but felt he was starting to repeat himself, and unfortunately Bad Things seems to confirm that. I enjoyed The Straw Men, and while I thought The Lonely Dead was a bit plodding, Blood of Angels finished the whole thing off in spectacular style; but really I long for him to start doing more Michael Marshall Smith stuff again. Spares is a genuine classic, and What You Make It is one of the be ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review, as posted to my blog,

I finished Bad Things yesterday morning, after several hours of intense reading interrupted only by occasional trips to replenish my omnipresent mug of coffee and ignore my responsibilities. It was, in a word, excellent. Well written, wonderfully engaging, and equipped with a driving plot and varied, believable characters, this is a book that deserves to be appreciated.

Bad Things is the story of a man named John Henderson. Three years e
Dec 17, 2014 Dea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Had a really slow start, I struggled to keep focused. But by the time I reached the middle I could not put the book down. I had to force myself to go sleep even though I had only one hour left in the book, but I think I saw the sun coming up over horizon. The story also left me unnerved. I think many of us have trees growing outside their bedroom windows, and I had to keep checking that it was in fact just the tree out there.

On another note, I noticed I really like the fact that nothing plays i
Sep 02, 2016 Stephen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Bad things have happened to John Henderson, besides being given the most generic name imaginable. 3 years ago his child died before eyes, inexplicably falling over dead with a look of absolute horror on his face. Then he tried to drink away his despair, which led to his eventual divorce. Now, just as he is starting to get his life back together (kind of) a mysterious stranger leaves him an anonymous email, saying they know what really happened to his son. When he returns to the place where his l ...more
Apr 30, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gripping storyline that kept me from putting the book down until I had finished it. The day his son Scott went out on to the jetty changed John Henderson's life forever. He manages to get continue with some semblence of a life, but really he's just walking the walk. Until the day someone tells him they know what happened to his son. There starts a nightmare John never could have imagined. Keeping you gripped the entire way through and surprising you with the unravelling story every step of the ...more
May 02, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Marshall's "Bad Things" starts off with a bang: a four-year-old child apparently dies of fright while his parents watch.

The action then flashes forward three years or so, with the parents divorced and living in different states. The father, James, is living in a small Oregon beach town waiting tables (a far cry from his previous career as a successful lawyer). One day, he receives an e-mail from a stranger, telling him that this person knows why his son died. Curiosity compels him to re
Carrie Hinkel-Gill
This book told a story, but I really had a hard time staying engaged in it. It didn't help that I kept having the feeling I've read this story but under a different title.

However, I read it to the ending.

I understood the premise of the book, and the fact the author tried very hard to maintain the suspense throughout the story, but really, I felt at times the story tried too hard to be suspenseful.

Basically, there are events in the main character's life that you are given glimpses of, but you'
Apr 18, 2009 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had higher hopes for this book and thought for about the first 1/4 I would really like it. However, I read about half and ended up skimming the rest. It is a suspenseful tale of a father whose life falls apart after his young son's sudden death that isn't explained (cororner said there was no reason, the boy just suddenly died). At the start of the story (a couple of years after the death of his son) the father is divorced and living on the Oregon coast, working in a small restaurant that is e ...more
I expected to be much more impressed with Michael Marshall’s Bad Things. Having read – no, devoured – many of his previous novels, I began this one with very high expectations.

Approximately the first 50 – 60 pages fully lived up to my expectations. I got very involved with the character of John Henderson and felt that I understood why he had made the decisions that he did. The set up for the mystery was also well presented and well written, and it was what kept me reading.

I began to have problem
Jeremy Pardon
I loved the Straw Men books, and also enjoyed Intruders, but Bad things wasn't quite up to those lofty standards. I am starting to read a formula with his novels, first person from some bad ass tough guy type character, and then third person propelling the story along. Marshall mixes in some paranormal into his hard boiled thriller novels, but now it seems a little forced, almost like a subplot and not the main part of the story.

I'd like to see him change up his style with an upcoming book, perh
Al Swanson
Feb 17, 2012 Al Swanson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, so most of Marshall's books promise more than they deliver. By that, I mean the buildup is excellent. Really - you can't put it down. All of his books (at least, those I've read, which is most) are exactly like that. Hints (or outright examples) of grand conspiracies. Overrtones of horror and the supernatural. He keeps you guessing through the first 80% of every book. You're not sure where it's going - but you HAVE to find out.
Then the other shoe drops and it's just...not enough. The promis
Oct 31, 2014 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We here at Sheelagh na Gig like our thrillers dark and brooding and twisty, full of foreboding, dense with danger,tingling with trepidation, minging with menace, but most of all, we like them well written. That’s why this week’s review commends to your attention Bad Things, by Michael Marshall, which has an opening that will break your heart, a story that will drag you to the edge of your seat, and a terrifyingly suspenseful climax that will dump you on the floor.

Bad Things opens with the sudden
Timothy Neesam
Sep 28, 2014 Timothy Neesam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is an accidental re-read of the first book by Michael Marshall Smith that I discovered, several years ago. The action in Smith's books always move at breakneck speed, but in this book, being caught in a small town gives the feeling of a main character stuck in a pinball machine, ricocheting from event to event but not really moving forward. We see the different pieces fitting together but the main character doesn't. Highly atmospheric (locations in the book almost feel like characters thems
Tina Hayes
Apr 08, 2010 Tina Hayes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vine
Michael Marshall's "Bad Things" was a pretty good suspense/thriller. The characters were well-drawn and the story is good in general. I did enjoy the read, but there were a few parts that could have been better.

The supernatural element, while briefly explained to some degree, could have been elaborated on more to make the story really pop; I would have liked to hear more about that than Kyle. And you have to read well into the book to know that there actually is something paranormal going on and
Brian Krause
Nov 26, 2014 Brian Krause rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I've said, Michael Marshall Smith writes some really dark stuff. This one was a very very good read.

You have to understand when you read one of his "horror" books that some of the "dark" aspects will not be completely and fully explained in logical will need to use your imagination and stretch it to grasp some of these conclusions.

I liked this one a lot. John Henderson was a good and likable protagonist. The supporting cast was equally interesting and added significantly to the s
This is the first time I have read anything from this author. Really loved this book. It was a real mystery, had me on the edge of seat during the unravelling of the storyline. If you like a fast paced thriller then this is for you.
My favorite thing about book clubs is that they encourage me to try books that I would never have picked up on my own. This novel starts off great--the writing is tight, though a bit too sarcastic for me, and the plot grabbed me. The first half of the book is very entertaining. Then the plot goes haywire, the characters too many to follow, a plot line is introduced that has nothing to do with nothing. The end is just ridiculous, too--instead of the gasp I expected, I ended the book with a groan. ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Jaime rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this, but I didn’t love it. It is a slow builder, which is fine, but I think I was looking for more of an underlying, subtle creepy feeling like I got from reading Rosemary’s Baby. I never felt like John was in real danger until the end.

John himself is an interesting character. He does what needs to be done without a lot of emotional wrangling, but it’s hard to get a good feel for why he is the way he is. Was he always this way, and just masked it when he was married? Or did the death of
Jul 30, 2012 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2012
A claustrophobic feel thru the book. Lawyer Jack Henderson's life changed three years ago, when his child died. The marriage solved, and he moved away to start a new, simpler life. Now he gets pulled back to the old place when someone calls and tells him she knows what happened to his son. When he's back to the small village where the bad stuff happened, more bad things happen. And they seem to have happened already for a long, long time, always around the same families and places. Maybe a bit t ...more
Jul 17, 2013 Margaret rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Excellent story

I really enjoyed the plot and especially the characters of this story. This is the type of book that both entertains and keeps you guessing.
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A pseudonym used by Michael Marshall Smith

Michael Marshall Smith (who dropped the "Smith" to write The Straw Men) lives in north London with his wife Paula, and is currently working on screenplays and his next book, while providing two cats with somewhere warm and comfortable to sit.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more inf
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“The cause of that happiness was gone, of course, dead and gone, but still we put our faith in places. We think that if we just lived somewhere different, everything would be okay. We believe that if we paint the stairway a bright new colour, and clear out the closets, our minds will follow. We'll take just about any ray of hope rather than accept that ninety-five per cent of the world we inhabit exists within the confines of our own skulls.” 1 likes
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