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Shoofly Pie

(Bug Man #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,418 ratings  ·  128 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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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,418 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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Maureen DeLuca
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a fun and different kind of read. Here we meet forensic entomologist Nick Polchak (a/k/a "the bug man") Remember the original CSI? Grissom- he always was fascinated with bugs- and doing all sorts of tests with them too. Well, Nick is very much like Grissom in that respect.

At the beginning of this book- we have 3 teenage boys- competing with each other for the 'attention' of Kathryn - all taking place in a small town in North Carolina. Now, all grown up- one of Kathryn's friends has died. T
Oct 09, 2013 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
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! If you're a fan of CSI, like I am, you'll find that the main character Nick will remind you very much of CSI's Grissom.
This book drug on a bit in a few sections, but overall it was a very gripping read and I loved the mystery.
I'm so glad I discovered this author and I look forward to continuing the series.
Michelle Griep
Jun 18, 2010 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. Bo
Duffy Pratt
Apr 19, 2014 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, afflict
Dec 01, 2014 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
Apr 03, 2010 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
May 10, 2012 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 momen
John Wiltshire
Oct 07, 2015 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
Jan 12, 2013 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 ...more
Jul 18, 2011 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 pre
Aug 29, 2011 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
Aug 14, 2011 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 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone, esp. CSI fans
Recommended to AJ by: No one
42 chapters/371 pages
Start/Finish: 5/1/12

First let me begin this review by saying that I read this book back in 2012. However, after I read a book, I always try to write out my feelings on the story when I finish. Sometimes, I’m moved to write a great deal to type up later. Other times, I just feel up to writing a very basic review. I never intended for it to take me almost six YEARS to get it on my GoodReads account, but it has. Obviously, by now, I don’t really remember much
Nov 04, 2018 added it
Just not for me. I was so excited to read it too! Boo. :(
Dena Atchley
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Very good! Mystery and murder, fast paced. A bit predictable but still satisfying!
Shelby Rush
Jun 28, 2016 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
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 08, 2014 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
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
Mar 07, 2011 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
Sep 30, 2009 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 rated it really liked it
You gotta love the bug man.
I liked Nick, I found him to be very funny. I liked learning about the bugs. I'll be continuing the series, hopefully soon.
Paula Shreckhise
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, interesting great read. Read ALL of his books. Wish there were more!
Becky B
In a small town it's hard to keep secrets. So when local Jimmy turns up dead in a field with his gun in his hand and a hole in his head, everyone assumes the troubled guy finally just had enough. The Sheriff and the medical examiner (who is the local ice cream shop/pharmacy owner) decide an autopsy isn't even necessary and close the case. But Kathryn has known Jimmy her whole life and she has a gut feeling something isn't right about his death. When she hears that the Bug Man, Dr. Nick Polchak i ...more
Mary Jo
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyably suspenseful novel without the coarse language and salacious details. There were a couple of times when I really had to suspend my disbelief, for example the dimwitted deputy. On the whole, however, I really enjoyed reading a book that didn't make me cringe because of sex and language. I will add that it wasn't really an overtly "Christian" novel, although it did contain scripture and portrayed Christianity in a positive light. It is fun to read something that can contain grit and ye ...more
Brandon Schildt
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I rated this book a 3/5 not because there was anything specifically wrong with it, rather I found myself skimming through many chapters as some of the character background building was slow and repetitive. The overall plot of the story was great, and enjoyed guessing 'who-dun-it' with a few twists along the way... however I was able to guess the ending prior to the reveal. Overall this is a very clean, murder mystery... with a few slow points... but overall was an entertaining read.
Tim Shepard
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book by Tim Downs. Who else would think of putting a bug loving, society reject as their main character. Better still the character works well with the mysteries he is supposed to solve. Looking forward to the next book!
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not a good book if bugs make you squeamish! I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by Downs.
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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

Other books in the series

Bug Man (6 books)
  • Chop Shop (Bug Man, #2)
  • First the Dead (Bug Man Series #3)
  • Less than Dead (Bug Man Series #4)
  • Ends of the Earth (Bug Man, #5)
  • Nick of Time (Bug Man Series #6)