I've always been curious about the Cambridge five spy ring, and how and why it came about, but unfortunately this book did not provide me with many anI've always been curious about the Cambridge five spy ring, and how and why it came about, but unfortunately this book did not provide me with many answers. I learned what happened in terms of facts, and that the English upper-class is so fixated on class that it is blind to anything that contradicts the notion that the 'right people' do the 'right things.' But I still don't understand why Kim and his cohorts did what they did, other than, because times were tough in the 30s, they came to believe that capitalism was rotten and needed to be overthrown. Many other people went through that time without coming away with that conclusion and being willing to betray their friends and their country. The blind, almost sociopathic intensity with which Kim went forward with his mission makes me think there was something in his upbringing or his biology that explained his motivations, but except for alluding to the two sides of his personality, McIntyre appears clueless.
It seems that, this story having been told by many others, McIntyre took advantage of the relatively recent interview Nicholas Elliott gave to John LeCarre about his experiences during that time to sell the twist of "friendship" as a new slant on the events. But it's pretty thin soup....more
**spoiler alert** I loved Harry Dolan's first book, "Bad Things Happen." The follow-up, "Very Bad Men" was also enjoyable, though it didn't have the t**spoiler alert** I loved Harry Dolan's first book, "Bad Things Happen." The follow-up, "Very Bad Men" was also enjoyable, though it didn't have the tang of the first one, because by now we know that David Loogan is an okay guy, a fact we weren't sure of most of the way through "Bad Things Happen." Now there is a prequel to "Bad Things Happen" – "The Last Dead Girl" — which claims to reveal the past of the mysterious David, and it's definitely the most conventional of the three. I enjoyed it – Dolan is a great writer (in my opinion) and a crafty plotter. He throws constant curves and twists at his reader, and every time you think you've gotten to the last Russian doll there's still another doll inside to open up. You will never be bored with this author.
However, I was a little disappointed that in this book Dolan falls back on the all too common cliché of the twisted sex pervert. You cannot open a book or watch a TV show without running into some version of this crazed abusive serial killer who does what he does because he simply gets off on inflicting pain (preferably combined with sex.) It was even present in "House of Silk", Anthony Horowitz’s otherwise very respectable iteration of Sherlock Holmes. And this book has not only one, but two serious sickos in one small town. It is enough to scare a parent into wanting to lock up their offspring until they reach the age of 35, and are old enough to be unappealing to the predators that supposedly lurk around every corner.
Except, of course, that these predators don't lurk around every corner; they simply exist in just about every mystery you read, which either represents a total failure of imagination on the part of authors, or an increasingly fervid demand on the part of a jaded public who needs stronger and stronger horrors to capture their interest.
As I recall, Dolan's first and second mysteries were mercifully devoid of these uber twisted characters, which I found quite refreshing. I thought I could count on him to buck the trend. Disappointing that he ultimately fell in with the herd.
But enough of that. I still found this mystery very compelling and clever and I will continue to read books about David Loogan or any other detective Harry Dolan proposes to come up with.
One last thing, however: it's not clear to me why David Malone, as he is known in this first mystery, changes his name to David Loogan by the time we get to mystery #2. It wasn't as if he became that notorious as a result of these murders. In fact, from the standpoint of the law, the murders were never resolved and David was certainly never implicated. So when he moves from Rome, New York, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, why does he feel the need to change his name? Is that explained in "Bad Things Happen"? ...more
**spoiler alert** I am not a fan (to say the least) of horror, and had this book had the name "Stephen King" or "Dean Koontz" on the cover, I would ne**spoiler alert** I am not a fan (to say the least) of horror, and had this book had the name "Stephen King" or "Dean Koontz" on the cover, I would never have picked it out. However, it was by an unknown author, the opening was well written, and I liked the fact that there was a historical slant and an old inn that was being renovated. The evocative first chapter, as our protagonist takes his dog for a walk in the primeval forest, persuaded me to give it a try, despite their chilling discovery of an newly slaughtered animal carcass that seemed an omen of bad things to come. And I'm very glad I did, despite the fact that the book ultimately got quite scary. For one thing, the characters of the family were well drawn, all of them with back stories and relationships to each other that gave the story a richness and depth I don't think of horror as possessing. The disturbing signs built up slowly and gradually, so that, unlike some of the reviewers, I had no difficulty in understanding why they stayed instead of hightailing it out of there. Most of us are able to rationalize away facts that are at deviance with what we want to believe. A husband who has sunk all his money into a new enterprise, and has on his hands a delicate wife who desperately wants to believe in this new beginning, might well conceal disturbing facts on the grounds that they are "probably nothing." While they were many times when I wanted to say to the husband and to the wife, "Talk to each other! Pool your knowledge! Discuss what should be done honestly!" I can really see how this perfect storm of circumstances held them back from doing so. At first I liked Ben, the husband, and had little sympathy for his high strung wife. But Duffy cleverly switches points of view so that we see Caroline's perspective as well, and then the balance is somewhat restored. Charlie, the son, comes across as odd, but as time goes forward we are introduced to his feelings as well, – particularly to the fact that the trauma of being locked in a closet by bullies back in his Manhattan school for 24 hours had an effect nobody realized – and this justifies much of his behavior. In other words, Duffy pays careful attention to making his characters act consistently and realistically, and it makes it easier to follow along, and even agree, with their decisions. There are also letters from a woman during the Revolutionary war sprinkled throughout the book, letters that ultimately lead to the gruesome revelation of why the townspeople in this tiny backwoods have evolved into the monsters they are today. Fortunately, the revelation has nothing supernatural about it; you can imagine, with a bit of a leap, the psychological trauma that might cause it. I also like the fact that the ‘original’ trauma to the town was not what I had expected: cannibalism in the face of extreme hunger had been my bet. Having that jolt of surprise as I discovered it was something more unexpected was a nice bonus; ever since my days of reading Agatha Christie, when I could reliably count on that little start of surprise at discovering the true murderer, I have enjoyed being ‘fooled.’ And there were several more clever twists that I saluted. However, four instead of five stars because there were a few things that weren't properly explained, at least as far as I know. So long as this author doesn't get any bloodier or scarier than this, I think I will enjoy reading him in the future. Especially if there is history or old architecture involved. ...more