Title: The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes
Series: A Stewart Hoag Mystery #9
Author: David Handler
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Genres: Mystery, Cozy
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From the publisher—
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.
There’s no clear consensus in the book world of what constitutes historical fiction but, for me personally, there are two types. One is the novel that was written, say, fifty years ago and, at the time, it was contemporary, not historical, because the author was writing about his own time. Today, that same novel is historical because the setting is fifty years ago. The second type is set in a time period fifty years ago (using an arbitrary time designation) but written by an author writing in the present time. Confusing? Absolutely it is but, bottomline, historical fiction means something different to each reader. I bring this up because this story takes place in 1992, too recent for me to consider it historical, but there are a lot of references to the characters’ pasts, as far back as the 60’s, and that does make it largely historical. It also has the feel of a 1940’s piece with the disillusioned detective and flashy dames, so, for me, The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes fits the bill.
Hoagy is a likeable fella at least partly because he’s so normal—goodlooking without being overtly gorgeous, kind of at loose ends professionally, appreciates women in a nice way, adores his basset hound, Lulu. When he’s approached about taking on this ghostwriting job, he’s very reluctant at first and for very good reasons but he deals with one particular reason and soon finds himself in Monette’s glitzy Los Angeles world and in the midst of murder and mayhem, the longest three days of his life. Has this recluse really surfaced? Why? And how do these issues fit in with the body count?
Oh, and Lulu? Now, this is a dog you can’t help loving, starting with her first plate of fried shrimp 😉
I’ve never read any of the previous Stewart Hoag mysteries (8 of ’em!), not for any reason other than too many books, too little time but Hoagy and Lulu appeal to me so much that I want to rectify that ASAP.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.
About the Author
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.
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