DAVID HANDLER – The Girl Who Ran Off with Daddy. Stewart Hoag #7. Doubleday, hardcover, 1996; Bantam, paperback, 1996(?).

   This is a series that I’ve enjoyed, and I feel a  little guilty about it. It’s at least semi-cozy, quasi-cute, and has an “adorable” dog for a character. Not really my type of thing, but hey, consistency’s one hobgoblin that’ll never bother me.

   One-time promising novelist and currently successful ghost writer Stewart Hoag’s life has finally turned semi-decent, He’s reunited with his former wife, famous and lovely  actress Merilee Nash, and living in peaceful seclusion in Connecticut with her and their brand-new daughter.

   The only fly in Hoagy’s ointment is his inability to make any progress on his novel Another pair of huge insects are about to invade,   though, in the persons of an aging literary icon who was once Hoag’s mentor and his 17 year-old stepdaughter, with whom he has “eloped” to the accompaniment of nationwide nasty publicity. He wants Hoag to ghost-write the young nubile’s story, and because of old ties he feels compelled to agree. Nothing’s ever simple, though, and soon someone’s dead.

   I guess I just like Handler’s prose and people. Even the damned dog, a basset named Lulu, is appealing. This is some ways the best of the series, to my taste, and in some ways not. The first-person narration was well done, as always. On the other hand, I thought the characters of the novelist and the teenager were shallow and not particularly believable, and the police even more (and less) so — his charadet1zat1ons of cops have been an ongoing irritant to me. Still, with all the problems, I enjoy the books, and I can’t come up with any better reasons than those with which I started the paragraph.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #24, March 1996.


      The Stewart Hoag series —

1. The Man Who Died Laughing (1988)
2. The Man Who Lived By Night (1989)
3. The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald (1990)
4. The Woman Who Fell From Grace (1991)
5. The Boy Who Never Grew Up (1992)
6. The Man Who Cancelled Himself (1995)
7. The Girl Who Ran Off With Daddy (1996)
8. The Man Who Loved Women to Death (1997)
9. The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes (2017)
10. The Man Who Couldn’t Miss (2018)
11. The Man in the White Linen Suit (2019)
12. The Man Who Wasn’t All There (2021)
13. The Lady in the Silver Cloud (2022)
14. The Girl Who Took What She Wanted (2023)