The Good Killer

Mysterious Book Report No. 410

by John Dwaine McKenna

The last item in the late CWA Grand Master Elmore Leonard’s famed “Ten Rules of Writing,” is this:

Try to leave out the part readers tend to skip.

What he meant in his tongue and cheek way, is don’t bore the reader with superficial, unneeded, and unwanted minutiae.  Keep driving the story forward with action and excitement.

Now, an emerging hard-boiled writing talent named Harry Dolan, is doing just that.  He’s a disciple of Leonard who took his lessons to heart and got them right . . . so right in fact, that we’re looking at Mr. Dolan’s fifth, and newest, to be his breakout novel.  The one that vaults him into fame and national prominence.  Yeah—it’s that well done.

The Good Killer, (Mysterious Press, $26.00, 339 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-4841-4) by Harry Dolan, begins in Houston, Texas.  That’s where a socially inept loser named Henry Alan Keen has just been dropped by a woman he’s dated a few times.  Despondent, Henry Keen tries to kill himself, but chickens out when it’s time to pull the trigger.  Then, he has a better idea.  He’ll go to the mall where his former flame works and make her watch as he shoots the place up.  That’ll impress her for certain.  Sure it will.

But when Keen puts his plan into action, killing and wounding a number of people in front of his terrified former dating partner, he’s killed by an Iraq War veteran—and the main protagonist of this kinetic novel—named Sean Tennant.  He runs toward the gunfire when it starts, and calmly shoots Keen . . . once in the chest and once in the head . . . all of that activity happens in the first twenty-five pages of this finely tuned, intricately-crafted and serpentine-plotted novel.  Twists, revelations and action sequences are revealed in every chapter, on almost every page.  Here’s a few . . .

After aiding some of the wounded, Sean Tennant disappears.  He’s a man with a past, a national hero and a fugitive, all at the same time . . . running from a past too painful to face, and too dangerous to deny.  Sean and his girlfriend Molly have been living on a razors-edge for more than five years now, hoping for the best, but expecting the worst as they run for their lives.

The Good Killer will grab you on the first page and never let go until the last one, when you’ll be gasping for breath, saying “Damn, I didn’t see that coming!” and howling for more from Harry Dolan!

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