The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the premise of this novel, I was hooked. It was just so intriguing and I could already feel myself wanting to know more about the author’s vision for this story. I’m really glad I received this ARC because it was such a worthwhile read! Here is my review:

There’s a killer, and he wears a crooked hat.

Jack Pellum left his job as a detective and became a private investigator two years ago, when his wife was murdered. Jack has been looking for the murderer – an man he last saw wearing a peacoat and a fedora. He has spent months posting fliers asking if anyone has seen a man of this description but to no avail. But when a local writer commits suicide and leaves a cryptic message, it ends up being the first breadcrumb of many to lead Jack onto a path…

Michael Underhill is a philosophical man who has had a rough past. But things are finally coming together. He has a wonderful girlfriend, and they are ready to get going with their future. Underhill is desperate to make everything perfect. Nothing can go wrong. Nothing will go wrong, if Underhill has anything to say about it. The problem is Underhill has a dark past … and it’s coming back to haunt him.

These two men are inexorably drawn together in a mystery where there is far more than meets the eye, and nothing can be taken for granted.

I don’t say this often but this novel deserves this praise: this was a seriously well-written and well-executed mystery. It is rare to have an author introduce such a complicated premise with a high body count, and yet make everything make sense. I loved the author’ delivery style because he made Jack’s story very personal; I felt very sympathetic towards Jack and I wanted him to get what he wanted. In the beginning, it really did feel like a wild goose chase because the initial clues seemed so insubstantial. And I think that was the point; every character in this novel points out how fixated Jack is on these clues and the author wants the reader to also see that crazy side. But as the story starts to come together, and the narrative and clues begin to make sense, the author starts to make you rethink. As I mentioned before, there is a high body count and that worried me in the beginning because I really didn’t want the author to just throw out some weird tie-in or conclusion. But the author didn’t do that. Instead, he broke apart the murders and made it all make sense. There was logic in this story, and it was something I was really happy to see because it honestly doesn’t happen very often. I also liked all of the characters the author created; even the minor characters had enough development that the reader could form a connection or opinion  about them, which was really nice. Overall, this was a very good mystery and I cannot wait to read more by this author! I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!

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