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.
Set in 1992, Handler's fun, clever ninth Stewart Hoag mystery (after 1997's The Man Who Loved Women to Death) marks a welcome return for the endearing ghostwriter sleuth. His New York literary agent, Alberta Pryce, guarantees Stewart a $100,000 payday for ghosting the story of what a mysterious one-hit literary wonder has been doing for the past 22 years. Richard Aintree penned Not Far from Here, a "coming-of-age masterpiece" considered on a par with Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye; but after his wife, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, took her own life, Richard vanished from the face of the earth. Alberta reveals that one of Richard's daughters, Monette, has received a letter ostensibly from her father, addressed to her by a nickname that only he and her sister knew. The possibility that Richard might resurface sends Stewart to Monette's L.A. home, where he eventually becomes involved in a murder investigation. Handler brilliantly combines wry humor with solid detection. Whodunit fans will hope for a shorter interval before book 10.
A slog through a poor attempt at 90s nostalgia.
The mystery is, well, uninteresting. A famous novelist has disappeared and his wife may or may not have committed suicide. A sleuth unites the estranged (to each other) daughters of the novelist to "solve the mystery." Where is he? Does he have something to tell us?
You'll be halfway through the book before you have enough of an inkling to care...assuming you make it that far...and it's just not worth the wait.