A witty amateur sleuth deals with a disgraced sitcom star and a deadly mystery: “Great fun” (Publishers Weekly).
Lyle Hednut, known to America as Uncle Chubby, has been the top draw in television comedy for three seasons straight. He is three hundred pounds of good humor and wholesome charm, beloved by children and adults alike until the day the police find him enjoying the show at the wrong kind of movie theater in Times Square. The arrest destroys his image, but his sitcom is too popular for the network to shut down. About to start production on the fourth season, he decides to tell his side of the story, and hires Stewart Hoag—failed novelist and ghostwriter for the disgraced—to do the writing. Hoagy quickly sees that Uncle Chubby’s cheer is no more than an act. The comedy icon is thin-skinned, irrational, and prone to rage. With a man like that in charge of a TV show, it won’t be long before comedy violence turns into the real thing.
Great fun from Handler in his sixth Stewart Hoag adventure (The Boy Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald won an Edgar in 1991), despite its overwrought climax and a villain whom psychologically hip readers will spot before the actual unmasking. Former literary boy-wonder Hoagy has sunk to ghosting the showbiz autobio of children's TV star Lyle (``Uncle Chubby'') Hudnut, who's attempting a comeback after an arrest for indecent exposure in a Times Square porn theater. Lyle, a 300-pound bundle of crazed energy, ego and cruelty, is sure that someone-or the world-is out to get him and believes the book will generate sympathy. There are personal complications: Lyle's co-star is his ex-wife; the network's executive producer is an ex-girlfriend; his current fiancee is the show's producer, a spot coveted by an assistant producer; and the show's writers are angling for control. A fire on the set, food poisoning and the bizarre murder of the newest cast member wreak havoc. A subplot involves Hoagy's celebrity ex-wife, who's pregnant and won't identify the father, but the best part of the book is Hoagy's gimlet-eyed observations of the fierce, delicious and dizzy infighting in Sitcom Land.