Review: The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan

Title: The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 361 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


One cryptic clue leads a desperate man into a labyrinthine puzzle of murder in the electrifying new novel from national bestselling author Harry Dolan.

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

Private investigator Jack Pellum has spent two years searching for the man who he believes murdered his wife–a man he last saw wearing a peacoat and a fedora. Months of posting fliers and combing through crime records yield no leads. Then a local writer commits suicide, and he leaves a bewildering message that may be the first breadcrumb in a winding trail of unsolved murders . . .

Michael Underhill is a philosophical man preoccupied by what-ifs and could-have-beens, but his life is finally coming together. He has a sweet and beautiful girlfriend, and together they’re building their future home. Nothing will go wrong, not if Underhill has anything to say about it. The problem is, Underhill has a dark and secret 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. Filled with devious reversals and razor-sharp tension, The Man in the Crooked Hat is a masterwork from “one of America’s best new crime writers” (Lansing State Journal).


In Harry Dolan’s The Man in the Crooked Hat, an ex-cop haunted by his wife’s unsolved murder follows a string of seemingly disparate murders in hopes of unmasking a clever murderer.

Jack Pellum refuses to stop looking for his beloved wife Olivia Makinnen’s killer and he is hopeful a new lead will finally provide the answers he is searching for. He is certain someone he spotted near their apartment right before Olivia’s death, a stranger wearing a hat, is the person who murdered his wife. When his ex-partner tells him about that Danny Cavanaugh, who recently committed suicide, left a cryptic message about a killer who wears a crooked hat, Jack immediately starts investigating the puzzling lead. A friend of the recently deceased, Paul Rook, is another link to a possible murder by the man in the hat. Even more promising, Paul has a file of unsolved murders that stretches back decades and provides Jack with a new place to begin his investigation:Danny’s brother Alex’s never solved homicide. Thus begins Jack’s latest quest in his eighteen month hunt for Olivia’s killer.

Jack is tenacious and determined to find the person responsible for murdering his wife. He spends day after day putting up flyers in hopes that someone will recognize the man in the hat. Danny’s suicide is the first concrete information that the man in the hat might just be real, but finding the connection between the dead man’s message and his wife’s killer might be impossible. That is until Paul shows up with a stack of unsolved murders that also mention the man in the hat. Jack knows tying these deaths together with take a herculean effort but he is definitely up to the challenge.

While Jack has no idea who killed his wife, readers know from the very beginning that Michael Underhill is Olivia’s murderer. What no one, including Jack, knows is why Michael killed her. As Jack begins untangling the very complicated threads that might tie Underhill to the other murders, readers are provided with intriguing peeks into the life Michael is building with Anna Haley. She has no idea what the man she loves has been up to nor does she have a clue how far he is willing to go to ensure her happiness. With Jack gaining traction in unraveling the complicated trail of unsolved murders, will he finally find justice for Olivia?

The Man in the Crooked Hat is an extremely clever and well-executed mystery. In a refreshing change of pace from the typical tech-laden investigations, Jack mainly relies on good old fashioned detective work to unearth clues and follow the evidence he uncovers. With plenty of unexpected twists and turns, Harry Dolan brings this brilliant novel to an exciting conclusion that completely wraps up all of the story’s various threads. Fans of the genre do not want to miss this fast-paced, twist-filled and very intriguing whydunit.


Filed under Contemporary, GP Putnams Sons, Harry Dolan, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Man in the Crooked Hat

2 Responses to Review: The Man in the Crooked Hat by Harry Dolan

  1. Timitra

    I’m intrigued, thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy