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The Good Killer

Review

The Good Killer

It is only February, but there have been some excellent books published so far this year. Chief among them is THE GOOD KILLER by Harry Dolan. You should file him at the top of your reading list under “Should be a household name.” I say that based not only on the strength of this new novel, which is perfect in every way, but also on the previous four that Dolan has written.

THE GOOD KILLER primarily concerns Sean Tennant and Molly Winter, who are living quietly and cautiously in Houston for reasons that are not immediately known. It is obvious, though, that they are hiding in plain sight with their heads down while Sean works as a self-employed woodworker and Molly writes and self-publishes e-books under a pseudonym. Sean is also haunted by Cole, the ghost of an old friend who pops into and out of his life like an irritating little brother. Everything changes while Molly is in Montana for a week at a dude ranch for women, which features such activities as horseback riding and yoga. Sean makes the fateful decision to go to a Houston mall to buy new boots. He has just made his purchase when an active shooter incident takes place. He steps in, quickly and effectively taking down the doer.

"Once you start reading THE GOOD KILLER, there is no good place to stop, other than the end."

Sean leaves the scene at once, but not before his moment of heroism is captured on numerous cell phones. The footage makes its way to the national news channels and is seen by two individuals in Detroit. One is Adam Khadduri, an art dealer with a lucrative but illegal aspect to his business. Sean stole two things from him: Molly and a valuable art treasure. The second person is Jimmy Harper, a low-level criminal whose brother, Cole, was killed while he was breaking into Adam’s house with Sean. Jimmy blames Sean for Cole’s death, and not entirely without reason. Sean leaves Houston to retrieve Molly, who at first is blissfully unaware of what is going on. That is about to change, as Adam and Jimmy begin to take steps to respectively retrieve property and effectuate long-simmering revenge.

Houston police detective Rafael Garza is also in the mix, tasked with investigating the mall shooting. He doesn’t intend to arrest Sean; he just wants to interview him to clear up what happened. Sean is a loose end to Garza, but he’s a loose end who won’t hold still. It’s quite a chase across multiple states involving several parties who are at occasional cross-purposes. Meanwhile, Sean has a number of unexpected allies who manifest themselves over the course of the book. However, not even they can prevent the explosive and violent conclusion, from which no one walks away intact or unaffected.

Once you start reading THE GOOD KILLER, there is no good place to stop, other than the end. Comparisons of Dolan’s novels to the work of Elmore Leonard are inevitable and not entirely inaccurate, but ultimately are unfair to both authors. Pick up the book, give yourself a few hours to read it, and then carve out a block of time to check out Dolan’s impressive backlist on its own terms. You’ll see what I mean.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 7, 2020

The Good Killer
by Harry Dolan

  • Publication Date: February 4, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802148417
  • ISBN-13: 9780802148414