Bad Karma

A Jack McCoul Caper

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
275 Pages
Reviewed on 06/09/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Dwight Holing lives and writes in California. He is the author of the Jack McCoul mystery series ("A Boatload" and "Bad Karma") and an award-winning collection of short stories ("California Works"). His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals and online magazines. His nonfiction works include books, articles, and essays.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite

Think of The Maltese Falcon in the milieu of 21st century Silicon Valley, and you’ll end up with something like Bad Karma (A Jack McCoul Caper) by Dwight Holing. Jack McCoul, the main character in Holing’s series of mysteries, is a former high-end burglar and con man who has gone straight and is the head of a tech start-up. Like most tech entrepreneurs, he needs money, but a venture capitalist turns down his new app that would help international travelers find less-than-wholesome pleasures. Soon afterward, the venture capitalist is murdered, and the investigating detective, who has been Jack’s nemesis since the two of them went to Catholic school together, eyes Jack as a possible suspect. Jack has to clear his name, so he starts his own unofficial investigation. Along the way, he is targeted by two unfriendly thugs who represent an unknown party that wants the rights to Jack’s new app. A hard-boiled detective novel wouldn’t be complete without a colorful cast of characters, and Bad Karma certainly has them – from an old-time associate of Jack’s who loves to steal and chase the ladies to a stuttering sports fan who has the knack for finding out any information on the street.

Dwight Holing is an excellent writer, using active words and not boring us with a lot of excess phrases. The characters are colorful and realistic, although the average person will probably never run into such people in his lifetime. He does a good job of depicting the people of Silicon Valley, from the successful ones who have huge mansions to the hungry entrepreneurs and programmers who want to make it big. He’s equally adept at portraying San Francisco’s Mission District, a formerly working-class, Chicano area that’s rapidly gentrifying. All in all, Bad Karma made me want to read more Jack McCoul novels by Holing. One thing is sure: if you spend most of your life lying and stealing, you’re sure to have ... Bad Karma!

Lisa McCombs

Jack McCoul has a good life: a beautiful wife and a comfortable business. His skeletons are safely tucked away with little fear of reappearing to disturb the comforts of his good life. That is, until he returns home one day in anticipation of a cold cocktail with his wife and the end to a day at the grind. A cold drink certainly awaits and he gets to share it with not only the lovely Katie, but a dear friend from that dusty closet of hidden bones. Bobby Ballena, a prominent participant in Jack’s past of secrets, has resurfaced and not just for a drink and to reminisce about old times. He’s on a mission and he needs Jack’s expertise in putting the pieces together again.

First stop is to hook up with Laura’s best friend, who happens to be Bobby’s old “flame,” now married to a collector of rare and priceless antiquities, Dexter Cotswold. Jack’s BS detector goes on high alert. When Bobby’s around and sniffing at gold-lined company, days of old have a tendency to materialize into more than just memories. Jack’s intuitions of bad karma become a reality when Dexter ends up dead and Laura is put behind bars.

Bad Karma is a fun read. The assorted amusing characters keep Dwight Holing’s crime story moving with suspense, intrigue, and just downright entertainment. As Jack struggles to remain on the up-and-up and Katie refuses to allow her friend to perish in prison, the bad guys do not truly understand that “Good deeds and good intent can insure good karma and future happiness.”

Roy T. James

Bad Karma by Dwight Holing begins when ex-con man Jack McCoul is in a 9 to 5 job and not very happy with it. Jack gets busy with his app, some sort of a personal consultant, which, among other things, can act in tandem with the world’s oldest profession. This calm and quiet atmosphere is shattered by the murder of one of his connections, Dexter. A missing Buddha and suspicion falling on many of their group trigger a chain of happenings, events of love and deceit, sex and violence, and the rigors of investigation. The investigation finally leads to a surprising end.

Bad Karma by Dwight Holing is a well planned book with each character contributing much to the mysterious ambiance of the plot, and the quick succession of events masterfully crafted to produce the necessary ‘twist’ keeping reader interest alive at all times. Each and every character of this drama, from fairly diverse, interesting backgrounds, has a well defined part, none of them exceeding their perceived domain. The brisk pace of the story also contains rather ‘philosophical’ interludes from many characters. For example, “The way Jack saw it, whoever invented romance knew what they were doing. What else could explain make up sex, a spontaneous combustion that came when no one wanted to admit they were wrong, at the same time they wanted to forgive and be forgiven.” This is a good, light read, with the mystery and suspense well guarded till the end.