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Shoofly Pie (Bug Man #1)

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  1,172 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak (a.k.a. the Bug Man) is hired by thirty-year-old Kathryn Guilford, who is terrified of bugs, to solve her friend's death. When Polchak stumbles into the mystery of how Kathryn's husband was killed years earlier, the action kicks into high gear -- and Polchak finds himself on the run with his client from someone who will do anything to kee ...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Howard Books
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Community Reviews

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Mar 25, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, 2014, forensics
One of the best forensic mystery novels that I have read. I have limited knowledge about forensic entomology from lectures from such people and from my friend who is pursuing a career in forensic entomology, but from what I have learned this book got it right. There were moments when I was like "Hey! I remember learning about this," and then feeling smart that I remembered such things! This book was full of awesome facts relating to bugs and just multiple fields of forensics. Going into forensic ...more
Michelle Griep
Jun 25, 2010 Michelle Griep rated it it was amazing
I hate bugs. I'm talking scream-my-head-off-if-I-see-a-creepy-centipede kind of hate. In fact, this might be one of the few things I chat with God about when I get to heaven--why he needed to make bugs. He could've done something different. He's God.
With that kind of preface, it took my buddy's eye-teeth to get me to crack open the cover of this book. It's a BUG man novel. Sheesh. But loyal friend that I am, I said I'd read it. I meant I'd read the first page or two and call it quits. Boy, was
Duffy Pratt
Apr 29, 2014 Duffy Pratt rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is one of the only one-suspect mysteries I have enjoyed. When there's only a single viable suspect, then the mystery will stand or fall on the qualities of either the villain, the victim, and the detective. Here, the villain and the victim are both fairly pedestrian, so everything is left on the shoulders of the detective, but he carries the burden quite well.

The detective is Nick Polchak, a professor of entomology at the University of North Carolina. He's legally blind, afflicted with extr
John Wiltshire
Nov 09, 2015 John Wiltshire rated it liked it
I began this one last night. I'm having difficulty with the constant shifting of pov, which is distracting. Major or tiny, minor character, the pov switches constantly. I'm not entirely convinced by the dialogue either. I've never heard a person in real life exclaim, "What is the meaning of this?" It doesn't ring true. In the very first chapter the forensic bug expert is at the scene of a crime, while the victim's husband is still present. He immediately realises the man is lying about the disco ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Connie rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book. I think I might also love "the bugman". Have already started the 2nd book in the series, and so far it looks like it might even be better! Shoofly had the best opening chapter of a book that I can remember. It was super intense. The "bugman" himself, is a lovable, sarcastic, snarky love machine (ok, maybe I am fantasizing about the love machine part). I can't wait until I get to know him better. I think this might be a series that I finish all in a row and that NEVER happens!! ...more
Jan 12, 2013 Annette rated it really liked it
I picked up this novel and #2 in the series, Chop Shop, in an omnibus version at the library after been introduced to the series in book #4 (Less Than Dead). The main character in each book is Dr. Nick Polchack, an extremely quirky forensic entomologist who would far rather be helping police with their investigations of days-old-corpses (whether or not they want it) than teaching class at the university where he unwillingly works to pay the bills.
There are certainly a lot more *bugs* in "Shoo F
Jul 28, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-this
Nick Polchak is a professor of entomology at North Carolina State by day ... forensic entomologist by night (almost). In this case he is spending the summer in a Quonset hut in Holcum County, NC that is the university's research facility.

Kathryn Guilford is grieving the apparent suicide of a dear, lifelong friend. Only she isn't so sure of the suicide. In fact she is steadfastly determined to prove it wasn't a suicide. She goes to Nick, whose reputation as a forensic entomologist precedes him, f
Aug 29, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
"Dr. Nick Polchak (aka the Bug Man) is sent to rural North Carolina as punishment and he sets out to do some simple research. However, Kathryn Guilford has just learned of the death of a friend and one-time suitor, and she asks the Bug Man to help her investigate. The only problem is that Kathryn has a pathological fear of insects (you'll learn why in the opening chapter, which starts with a horrific auto accident).

Tim Downs is the rare Christian author who doesn't evangelize through his novels
May 10, 2016 Tammie rated it really liked it
I knew I would probably like this series because it's all about forensic entomology. I am pretty much fascinated by anything that has to do with forensics and if I weren't a very busy full time mom right now, I would consider devoting a part of my life to the study of forensics.

I really liked the main character from the start. He's cynical but funny. After I had gotten into the book I realized his personality was strikingly similar to House's from the TV series, except this guy came before Hous
Mystery. This was my first Tim Downs book and I was wholly unprepared for the amount of detail, the familiar territory (we live in North Carolina at the moment), and the laughs. Wow! I am so impressed with this first offering that I cannot wait to read the next one already. I do want to forewarn those who are more sensitive, there are a number of descriptive passages about insects and bodies (decomposition in particular) that is not for everyone. It is not gory for shock value, but scientific (a ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: who-dunnit
Blame it on Darlene, I got sucked into this one despite my better judgment! Turns out reading about bugs isn't near as bad as actually letting them crawl on you. Well done mystery. Other than a series of uncharacteristic mistakes he makes that conveniently ratchet up the action to theater of the absurd levels toward the end, Nick Polchak is a slovenly, scientific amateur detective with a mind of steel and a stomach to match. I didn't think the novel had enough false suspects but it made up for s ...more
Paula Shreckhise
Sep 05, 2016 Paula Shreckhise rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, interesting great read. Read ALL of his books. Wish there were more!
Oct 05, 2009 Nanette rated it really liked it
I loved this book! The Bug Man (Nick) kept me laughing throughout the book despite the seriousness of the plot. I learned so much about bugs and crime investigation. The descriptions are pretty graphic, but fascinating. I will definitely read the rest of the Bug Man books.
Nike Chillemi
Mar 25, 2010 Nike Chillemi rated it really liked it
You gotta love the bug man.
Oct 18, 2016 Neil rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. The "hero" was quirky and different and extremely intelligent while having some mild handicaps that prevented him from fitting in anywhere in 'normal' society. It moves at a good clip, it held my interest throughout the entire book, and I am glad that I read it. It did have some surprises in it for me, although I did figure parts of it out before the reveals happened. I did not figure out how it was going to end, though, so that ...more
Oct 17, 2016 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, slightly gruesome
Sep 30, 2016 Kerstin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Fliegenfutter" hat mir sehr gut gefallen. Die wissenschaftlichen Aspekte der Arbeit des Entomologen waren informativ und dennoch verständlich dargestellt und auch die Ermittlungsarbeit an sich war interessant.

Nick Polchak ist ein ungewöhnlicher Charakter. Für ihn ist seine Forschungsarbeit mit Fliegen und Käfern das wichtigste und seine Art, die Welt zu sehen, ist auf jeden Fall etwas ganz anderes, aber obwohl er fast schon brutal ehrlich und ein wenig arrogant ist und auch ein wenig gefühllos
Jul 18, 2016 Betty rated it really liked it
First night reading and I'm on page 51. Every page is just as engaging as the one before it. I'm loving this whole subject of forensic entomology--what a cool niche field. Thanks for both educating and amusing me, Mr. Downs. Oh, and by the way, the descriptions don't gross me out ... but then I'm not actually dealing with decomposed bodies, just reading about them. Hey, it's a fact of life. God has a very efficient manner of returning bodies back to the stuff they're made of: the earth. It's bes ...more
May 27, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that you read while you should be sleeping, that stays glued in front of your nose as you make a mess of doing your chores (and almost run into that open door…oops!), making dinner (or burning it…), and when you are talking to your mom on the phone (and your responses are limited to “uh huh….uh huh…”). I have not declared a favourite author since the days when I was obsessed with Brian Jacque’s “Redwall” series back in middle school.

Let me pause for a moment.

Alright, h
Feb 15, 2010 Debbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, suspense
"Shoofly Pie" was an enjoyable contemporary suspense/mystery novel. The mystery was fairly easy to figure out (this was a group read, and we all agreed on the who-done-it and why long before the end), but the detective also figured out the who-done-it at about the same time. Their problem was finding the proof that would stand up in court while surviving the ever-increasing body-count. So the suspense was sustained throughout the novel.

The characters were fairly complex. Nick was enjoyably quirk
Jan 22, 2009 MrsKhaje rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of all forensic sciences. And having watched CSI: Las Vegas in which one of the main characters, Gil Grissom, is a forensic entomologist (a bug man), I couldn't help myself and I simply had to grab up this book and try it out.

This book is the first in the 'Bug man' series. Other books in the series are Chop Shop, First the Dead and Less than Dead. (all of which I hope to read)

Nick Polchak, the book's main character, is a forensic entomologist, and I liked him right away. I read se
Mike Page
Sep 30, 2013 Mike Page rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, Steven James fans
Recommended to Mike by: goodreads
Shelves: library, mystery
This was a great book. I was surprised. The characters are decent and story moves well. It is serious enough on an emotional level, but has good wit and quirkiness. (Which I love, stories always seem to be one way or the other, finding the medium is great!) Nick the Bug Man’s character emerges as the story goes on, but more time is spent on the characters that center on the murder. It avoids a lot of clichés, especially on the Christian fiction area. There is no great forced evangelism that make ...more
Pr Latta
This is the first in the Bug Man forensic mysteries by Tim Downs, Christian author, speaker, and syndicated cartoonist. Downs manages to combine forensic details (the character teaches entomology at NC State), subtle humor, a quirky but believable cast of characters, and mystery (sometimes revealed early in the story - note this, if you read to figure out the solution) without resorting to excessive profanity, sex, or violence. Well, they ARE murder mysteries and Nick Polchak does describe the e ...more
Catherine Leggitt
Jul 14, 2014 Catherine Leggitt rated it it was amazing
Finally, a book that made me turn pages until I finished. Where have you been until now, SHOOFLY PIE? Loved the mystery, loved the bits of humor, love Dr. Nick Polchak, the Bug Man. In Book one of the Bug Man series, Dr. Polchak is exiled to a remote county of North Carolina because he can't keep his nose--or his tweezers--out of crime-solving. He works for a University as a forensic entomologist, for crying out loud, not a detective. He's supposed to be studying bugs on corpses and giving exper ...more
Dec 04, 2014 Brenda rated it it was amazing
Ever read what you think might be the most perfect book ever? Well I just did and it is this book. This was a classic murder mystery thriller, with a hero (Nick) that is a "bug man", he literally studies the bugs of the dead. In that regard, he reminded my of the Jefferson Bass character Bill Brockton from the Body Farm series; he studies the bugs that form on the dead, he lets it tell the story of how a person lived and died. If you are a CSI fan, love forensics, or reading books by Jefferson B ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak (a.k.a. the Bug Man) is hired by thirty-year-old Kathryn Guilford, who is terrified of bugs, to solve her friend's death. When Polchak stumbles into the mystery of how Kathryn's husband was killed years earlier, the action kicks into high gear -- and Polchak finds himself on the run with his client from someone who will do anything to keep a secret.

I started with this first book in the series of "The Bug Man," and have read everyone since and am anxiously wait
May 06, 2011 Patty rated it it was amazing
This is a marvelous mystery, well written and with wonderful characters.

Dr. Nicholas Polchak is a forensic entomologist, AKA The Bug Man. Katheryn Guilford hires him to help her prove that a good friend did not commit suicide.

This is a complicated story with lots of details about entomology and how it is used in the field of forensics. Basically, Nick studies the life cycle of insects that feed and reproduce on dead bodies. Sometimes a tad gruesome if those kind of descriptions both you, but it
Jan 22, 2012 Hannah rated it liked it
Well, I've done it. Now I can say that I have read all of Tim Downs' fiction works. Of all the authors I have experienced, Downs is the first author who's complete set of (published) works I have read.

Shoofly Pie was good, and I enjoyed it. However, style-wise and character-wise, Downs' style has improved a lot since he wrote this book, which is his first.
Nick wasn't as likeable. He was more annoying, almost more blase. The dialogue didn't have quite the wit and punch that I've come to expect
Sonya Samuel
Apr 09, 2014 Sonya Samuel rated it it was amazing
I'm halfway through, and not that old, but this book is FANTABULISTIC! Nicholas Polchak was, is, and most likely always will be slightly too graphic about maggots and such. Amazing book, found at my church while looking for a Robert Liparulo book I haven't read, I see Tim Downs. I had heard of Chop Shop, but never really read it. I took the first 3 Bug Man books, and I am LOVING IT! Dr. Polchak is awkwardly charming, and incredibly descriptive with bugs. My favourite part was when Kathy shouted ...more
Aug 24, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
I read this book because of a review that likened the main character, a forensic entomologist, to Gil Grissom, a character on the TV show, CSI.
The only resemblance I saw was that Gil also had an interest in forensic entomology and was a bit shy.
Dr. Nick Polchak agrees to help Kathy Guilford determine whether or not her friend committed suicide using his expertise in the field of corpse eating bugs. He is not a very likable character until close to the end of the book, but he does know his stuff
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Around the Year i...: Shoofly Pie, by Tim Downs 1 13 Mar 19, 2016 07:00PM  
  • Brink of Death (Hidden Faces #1)
  • False Witness
  • Deadfall (John Hutchinson, #1)
  • The Rook (The Patrick Bowers Files, #2)
  • Footsteps
  • The Sacrifice
  • Boo
  • Deception (Ollie Chandler #3)
  • Falls Like Lightning
  • Undertow (The Julesburg Mysteries #3)
  • Fatal Harvest (Haven #1)
Tim Downs is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University. After graduation in 1976 he created a comic strip, Downstown, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate (Calvin & Hobbes, Doonesbury, The Far Side) from 1980 to 1986. His cartooning has appeared in more than a hundred daily newspapers worldwide. Tim has written seven mystery/suspense novels: Shoofly Pie, Chop Shop, PlagueMak ...more
More about Tim Downs...

Other Books in the Series

Bug Man (6 books)
  • Chop Shop (Bug Man, #2)
  • First the Dead
  • Less Than Dead
  • Ends of the Earth (Bug Man, #5)
  • Nick of Time (Bug Man Series #6)

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