Last time I was home, I asked a friend how she tells people about Arizona when they ask what it’s like. She told me that what feels truest (but what she doesn’t normally say), is a cliché from old Westerns: “Hard places breed hard men.” When I asked her if the two of us were hard men, she told me of course we were. “Teenage girlhood is no joke,” she said.
To start off a mysterious crime novel by directly identifying the sinister killer is a bold move. Yet Harry Dolan’s latest book, “The Man in the Crooked Hat,” thrives on such twists. Smart, subtle and subversive, Dolan’s latest lights a needed fire under a genre that often falls victim to formulaic, predictable plots and cardboard-cutout protagonists.