• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 15, 2017)
HARLAN COBEN calls it “One of my all-time favorite series! …David Handler is so good at writing one smart, funny page-turner after another that he makes it look easy.”
Fans of JANET EVANOVICH and CARL HIAASEN, get ready. If you haven’t yet discovered wisecracking sleuth Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag and his faithful basset hound Lulu, you’re in for a sharp, hilarious treat.
Once upon a time, Hoagy had it all: a hugely successful debut novel, a gorgeous celebrity wife, the glamorous world of New York City at his feet. These days, he scrapes by as a celebrity ghostwriter. A celebrity ghostwriter who finds himself investigating murders more often than he’d like.
And once upon a time, Richard Aintree was the most famous writer in America — high school students across the country read his one and only novel, a modern classic on par with The Catcher in the Rye. But after his wife’s death, Richard went into mourning… and then into hiding. No one has heard from him in twenty years.
Until now. Richard Aintree — or someone pretending to be Richard Aintree — has at last reached out to his two estranged daughters. Monette is a lifestyle queen à la Martha Stewart whose empire is crumbling; and once upon a time, Reggie was the love of Hoagy’s life. Both sisters have received mysterious typewritten letters from their father.
Hoagy is already on the case, having been hired to ghostwrite a tell-all book about the troubled Aintree family. But no sooner does he set up shop in the pool house of Monette’s Los Angeles mansion than murder strikes. With Lulu at his side — or more often cowering in his shadow — it’s up to Hoagy to unravel the mystery, catch the killer, and pour himself that perfect single-malt Scotch… before it’s too late.
About David Handler
David Handler has written nine novels about dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag, including the Edgar and American Mystery Award–winning, The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as eleven novels in the bestselling Berger & Mitry series. He lives in a 230-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.
“Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marshmallows skies,
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
The girl with Kaleidoscope eyes …”
(Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles)
Reggie Aintree: Erratic, but terrifically gifted poetess who now runs the Root-Chakra Institute in rural upstate NY. She was once the lover of ghost writer, Stewie. He named her the girl with the Kaleidoscope eyes. She is angry with her sister and they have not spoken in years.
Monette Aintree: Reggie’s sister. She shot to stardom after writing a tell all book about her sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Now a multi-millionaire media mogul, she wants someone to write her life story.
Richard Aintree: Also a one hit wonder, who wrote a novel that is read in every high school English class. He disappeared from the face of the Earth in the 70s after his poetess wife, Eleanor, who was on a bad acid trip and jumped from the roof of a hotel and died. She had won the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry and was America’s poet laureate.
Stewart Hoag: Published one amazing novel and then his muse disappeared. Now works as a celebrity ghost writer. Somewhat of an amateur sleuth. Likes to go by the nickname Hoagy, as in the sandwich, though Reggie continues to call him Stewie.
Lulu: Hoagy’s Bassett hound who goes everywhere, including into fancy restaurants and eats people food. Somewhat of an amateur sleuth in her own right.
Patrick Van Pelt: Monette’s sizzling hot husband and star of the very popular TV series, Malibu High. Loud, obnoxious, and a cheater. Monette is divorcing him for catting around with his 19 year old sexy co-star, Kat Zachry. She is pregnant and guess who’s the daddy?
Hoagy’s publicist convinces him, with a bit of old-fashioned arm twisting, into working with another publicist he detests, on the next celeb best-seller. Monette says her father has written to her and wants to tell the tale of his disappearance and upcoming return. Hoagy will be living at the pool house on Monette’s Brentwood estate where he will be able to interview the key persons involved and witness the reunion of father and daughter. Instead a murder occurs plummeting the characters into a media firestorm that threatens to expose the seedy underbelly of Hollywood and the principal characters in the novel.
The author, David Handler, spins a mystery about the rich and famous a la Raymond Chandler. Mr. Handler has written 8 Stewart Hoag novels, but this is the first one he’s written in 20 years. Just like Stewart Hoag who hadn’t written a novel of his own in the same amount of time.
It was a fun and enjoyable read, even though most of the characters had more than one obnoxious trait. As with all good mysteries the main plot line had many branches that could distract the reader from solving the crime. Yes, the ending was not what I expected. I guess I am not as astute in following the trail of clues as I thought I was. (Just don’t tell this to my children. I keep telling them how brilliant I am.) A well thought out novel that kept my attention. This mystery would make a good beach read. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars just for the entertainment value.
Many thanks to the folks at TLC Book Tours for another good read. I have become a Hoagy fan (and I don’t mean just the sandwich), and so I just might have to dive into the library archives and read the earlier tales.