Stewart Hoag Mysteries

“One of my all-time favorite series!”
—Bestselling author Harlan Coben

The Woman Who Lowered the Boom

Book 15 now available

This new installment of the Edgar® award-winning Stewart Hoag mystery series finds the beloved ghostwriter-sleuth finally on the precipice of reclaiming his previous literary fame when threats against his editor appear to put both his career and her life in jeopardy.

Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag is walking on cloud nine after a meeting with his editor, Norma Fives, where she predicts his new book is sure to establish him as the next great American author. It has been years since he has even dreamed of such success after a crippling case of writer’s block limited his literary aspirations to ghostwriting celebrity memoirs. But his happiness is short-lived when at his next meeting with Norma she asks for his help in discovering who is behind a series of increasingly threatening letters sent to her attention.

Norma herself is not overly concerned about the letters but her boyfriend, Detective Lieutenant Romaine Very of the NYPD, thinks the threat of violence against Norma should not be so easily dismissed. Very feels the combination of Hoagy’s detective skills and knowledge of the underbelly of the publishing world make him the perfect person to investigate the matter. Plus, Hoagy is a friend he can trust to take care of the love of his life. Hoagy agrees if for nothing else than to ease the minds of two people he cares about very much. After all, this is likely to be nothing more than a dramatic gesture from a frustrated writer.

But as Hoagy and Lulu investigate, the threats move beyond the written word, making it clear that someone out there is determined to write a vicious ending to Norma’s life. Could it be the wealthy aging children’s author? The unethical snake of a literary agent? Or the handsy historian? This is not the return to the literary world that Hoagy dreamed of, but he is determined to unravel the mystery before the author of these crimes gets the last word.

The Girl Who Took What She Wanted

Book 14 now available in paperback

In this new installment of the Edgar® award-winning Stewart Hoag mystery series, the ghostwriting sleuth investigates a trail of murder amidst Hollywood’s rich and famous.

Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag hasn’t written any fiction since his debut novel rocked the literary world of the 1980s and then left him with a paralyzing case of writer’s block. Since then, he’s been reduced to ghostwriting celebrity memoirs. But his newest project could have him diving back into the world of fiction in a way he never imagined.

Nikki Dymtryk is Hollywood’s hottest reality TV star, known for her wild party lifestyle and prolific sexual conquests across the music, film, and sports industries. But when the ratings for her show Being Nikki begin to drop, the Dymtryk family engineers a new plan to keep Nikki in the limelight: reinventing the young star as a bestselling author. Nikki’s team hires Hoagy to ghostwrite a steamy romance novel showcasing the glitz and glamor of the Hollywood elite.

Reluctantly, Hoagy flies out to L.A. with his trusty basset hound Lulu to see what he’s gotten himself into with Nikki. But when he finally meets the starlet, she’s nothing like the aimless, airhead image she presents to the media. This project may just be the key to getting Hoagy’s creative juices flowing again―and staying in L.A. might also give him a chance at getting back together with his actress ex-wife, Merilee. But spending time with Nikki isn’t all parties and poolside lounging. As Hoagy gets closer to the young woman, he begins to uncover the Dymtryk family’s dark secrets. Secrets that are worth killing for.

“The empathetic Hoag’s narrative voice compels, and Handler makes his role as an investigator easy to accept. Fans of hard-edged whodunits set in La La Land will be riveted.”
Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

The Lady in the Silver Cloud

Book 13

Ghostwriting sleuth Stewart Hoag investigates the murder of his wealthy neighbor—and discovers her dark, secret past.

A 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is a fantastically expensive car, especially in the pristine condition of the one owned by Muriel Cantrell. Living in a luxury apartment building on Central Park West, the delicate, sweet 75-year-old woman is a neighbor of Merilee Nash, the beautiful movie star, and Stewart Hoag, whose first book was a sensation but whose career crashed when he became involved with drugs and alcohol. Divorced ten years earlier, Hoagy has been welcomed back into Merilee’s life and apartment.

Apparently universally beloved in her building, residents are shocked when Muriel is murdered after a Halloween party. No one takes it harder than her long-time chauffeur, Bullets Durmond, whose previous job was as an enforcer for the mob. Who in the world would want to harm the silver-haired lady whose major vices were buying shoes and Chanel suits (always in cash), and watching day-time soap operas?

Lieutenant Romaine Very of the NYPD is called to investigate and again seeks help from his friend Hoagy who, along with his basset hound Lulu, has been an invaluable aide in the past. The investigation leads to the unexpected source of Muriel’s wealth, the history of her early years as a hatcheck girl at the Copacabana, how her chauffeur came to be called Bullets, her desperate meth-head nephew, and her wealthy neighbors, who have secrets of their own.

“Adultery, blackmail, trick-or-treaters, unseemly ties to organized crime, and New York in the 1990s. What’s not to like?”
Kirkus

The Man Who Wasn’t All There

Book 12

After six glorious weeks of hard work on his long-overdue second novel, celebrity-ghostwriter Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag has hit a crossroads in his plot. He thinks a change of scenery will do him good—and he knows just the place. His ex-wife, the actress Merilee Nash, has offered him the use of her idyllic Connecticut farmhouse, while she’s away shooting a movie in Budapest.

Hoagy and his beloved basset hound Lulu settle in for a few days’ rest and relaxation. Hoagy expects fall splendor, long walks and crisp night air. He doesn’t expect Merilee’s eccentric, unwelcoming neighbor. Austin Talmadge warns Hoagy not to get on his bad side, but what harm can a country oddball like Austin do?

Quite a lot, it turns out. All Hoagy wants to do is relax and clear his head, but soon he’s caught up in a strange, complex mystery—and he’ll need all his wits about him, and Lulu’s unerring nose, if he’s to come out of this one alive…

The Girl Who Did Say No

Short Story

Ex-bestselling author Stewart Hoag is after a tell-all Hollywood diary in this short mystery from the Edgar® Award–winning author.

Once upon a time, Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag was a celebrity author married to a famous actress. But after a serious case of writer’s block, Hoagy lost it all. Now, with nobody but his loyal basset hound, Lulu, by his side, Hoagy intends to get back on top by transcribing the salacious tell-all diary of recently deceased actress Anna Childress.

It was a foolproof plan—except that Hoagy isn’t the only one after the legendary journal. Suddenly, he and Lulu are up against a who’s who of powerful studio execs, all clamoring to keep a generation’s worth of Hollywood dirt from reaching the public.

The Man in the White Linen Suit

Book 11

Washed-up celebrity ghostwriter Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag has finally rediscovered his voice and is making progress on what he hopes will be his long-awaited second novel. Burrowed up in his less-than-luxurious, sweltering fifth floor walk-up, he tries not to think of the disparities between himself and his ex-wife, celebrity actress Merilee Nash, who is sifting through film offers—and also her fickle feelings for Hoagy—from her elegant eight-room apartment looking over Central Park. When Merilee offers her home for Hoagy’s use while she’s shooting on location, hope blossoms that he might finally get some real work done… and solidify their rekindling romance.

Then Hoagy receives a call from his literary agent asking if he can meet with publishing’s most ruthless and reviled editor, Sylvia James, for a drink at the Algonquin Hotel. After disclosing that aging literary genius Addison James—also Sylvia’s father and main client—has not in fact written his last two bestselling historical sagas, Sylvia reveals her suspicions that Addison’s assistant Tommy O’Brien—the true author—has run away with their most recent manuscript and is holding it for ransom. Tempted by Sylvia’s offer to bid a hefty advance for his novel-in-progress, Hoagy agrees to help unearth Tommy’s sudden disappearance. If only he’d known exactly what he was getting himself into, he might’ve saved himself from the ensuing grief that follows in his hot pursuit of Tommy. But then, that wouldn’t be a normal day in the life of Hoagy.

With clattering claims of a mugging, a stolen manuscript, and three murders, now it’s up to Hoagy and his short-legged sidekick Lulu to unravel this baffling, bizarre case.

“Hoagy is a thoroughly engaging amateur sleuth, as appealing to readers as he is enraging to the authorities, who can’t abide his unconventional methods. This tenth installment in the series is pure pleasure.”
Booklist (starred review)

The Man Who Couldn’t Miss

Book 10

Hollywood ghostwriter Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag has chronicled the rise, fall, and triumphant return of many a celebrity. At last he’s enjoying his own, very welcome second act. After hitting a creative slump following the success of his debut novel, Hoagy has found inspiration again. Ensconced with his faithful but cowardly basset hound, Lulu, on a Connecticut farm belonging to his ex-wife, Oscar-winning actress Merilee Nash, he’s busy working on a new novel. He’s even holding out hope that he and Merilee might get together again. Life is simple and fulfilling—which of course means it’s time for complications to set in….

When the police call to ask if he knows the whereabouts of a man named R.J. Romero, Hoagy learns of a dark secret from his ex-wife’s past. It’s already a stressful time for Merilee, who’s directing a gala benefit production of Private Lives to rescue the famed but dilapidated Sherbourne Playhouse, where the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Marlon Brando and Merilee herself made their professional stage debuts. Her reputation, as well as the playhouse’s future, is at stake. The cast features three of Merilee’s equally famous Oscar-winning classmates from the Yale School of Drama. But it turns out that there’s more linking them to each other—and to their fellow Yale alum, R.J.—than their alma mater. When one of the cast is found murdered, it will take Hoagy’s sleuthing skills and Lulu’s infallible nose to sniff out the truth…before someone else faces the final curtain call.

The Man Who Couldn’t Miss doesn’t miss a beat with its entertaining plot.”
The Washington Post

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes

Book 9

The year is 1992. Clinton is on the road to the white house, Kurt Cobain fever has taken over America’s youth, and cell phones are the size of your head. Hoagy is pulled back into the orbit of the brilliant, erratic, maddening poet Reggie Aintree, whom he was deeply in love with before he met his ex, Merilee Nash. Reggie and her sister Monette believe they’ve been contacted by their long-lost father from whom they’ve been estranged for decades. Richard Aintree wrote one captivating novel that is read in every high school English class. But he fell off the face of the earth after his wife (the girls’ mother), a distinguished American poet in her own right, committed suicide on a bad acid trip in the ’70s.

To complicate matters further, Monette found her first taste of fame at twenty-years-old when she published Father Didn’t Know Best, a memoir falsely accusing her father of sexual abuse. Though she tried to recant her accusations in subsequent books, the damage was done. She and her sister Reggie have not spoken since. Now, Monette is a media mogul whose empire is crumbling, and Reggie runs the Root-Chakra Institute in Upstate New York. Recently, both sisters have received mysterious typewritten letters from their father.

Into this crazy mix comes Hoagy, who is staying in the pool house at Monette’s Brentwood mansion after he’s been hired as a ghostwriter to document the tell-all book that could result from this mess. But when murder strikes, it’s more important than ever for him to pull fact from fiction as he races to catch a clever, sinister killer.

“Hoagy and Lulu tickle your funny bone and touch your heart.”
—Carolyn Hart, NYT Bestselling Author

The Man Who Loved Women to Death

Book 8

The author calls himself the Answer Man. He introduces himself to Stewart Hoag—onetime literary darling of the New York scene—with a letter begging for help with his first novel. Hoagy usually ignores such requests, but the Answer Man’s sample chapter grabs his attention. It is a chilling, first-person story about a man who picks up a girl in a pet shop, takes her home, and savagely murders her. The imagery is clear, the prose strong, and the storytelling as truthful as though the author had actually lived it. When he opens the next morning’s paper, Hoagy realizes he was reading nonfiction.

A young pet shop employee has been bludgeoned to death, and the crime’s details match those in the manuscript. As the Answer Man keeps killing, he continues writing letters asking Hoagy to collaborate with him. If Hoagy can’t stop him soon, he may find himself starring in the book’s next chapter.

“Handler has written a sleek, sophisticated, over-the-top story that’s filled with red herrings, laugh-aloud humor, and plenty of suspense.”
Booklist

The Girl Who Ran Off with Daddy

Book 7

Stewart Hoag has quit ghostwriting. Living in Connecticut with his ex-wife, Hoagy works on a novel and tends to Tracy, his brand-new daughter, who’s more beautiful than anything he’s ever written and only took nine months to make. Life is peaceful, until Thor Gibbs arrives to tear it apart.

An unapologetically swaggering author, Thor is past seventy but still looks like the brash young man who befriended an aging Hemingway and inspired the first of the Beat poets. Once he was Hoagy’s mentor, but now he needs his help. Thor is in the middle of a tryst with his eighteen-year-old stepdaughter, and every newspaper, lawyer, and cop in the country wants him strung up from the highest tree. He hires Hoagy to help the beautiful young woman tell their side of the story. But trouble is following the controversial couple, and death is about to visit the cottage.

“Handler controls his material masterfully, delivering newsy verisimilitude and domestic repartee worthy of Nick and Nora Charles. Notable also is Lulu, Hoagy’s possessive and intuitive basset hound, who almost steals the show from this thoroughly entertaining cast of characters.”
Publishers Weekly

The Man Who Cancelled Himself

Book 6

Stewart Hoag’s first novel made him the toast of New York. Everyone in Manhattan wanted to be his friend, and he traveled the cocktail circuit supported by Merilee, his wife, and Lulu, his basset hound. But when writer’s block sunk his second novel, his friends, money, and wife all disappeared. Only Lulu stuck by him.

The only opportunity left is ghostwriting—an undignified profession that still beats dental school. His first client is Sonny Day, an aging comic who was the king of slapstick three decades ago. Since he and his partner had a falling out in the late 1950s, Day has grown embittered and poor, until the only thing left for him to do is write a memoir. Hoagy and Lulu fly to Hollywood expecting a few months of sunshine and easy living. Instead they find Day’s corpse, and a murder rap with Hoagy’s name on it.

“Great fun from Handler in his sixth Stewart Hoag adventure…”
Publishers Weekly

The Boy Who Never Grew Up

Book 5

In Matthew Wax’s films, politicians are honest, parents are respected, and nice guys finish first. Wax has been Hollywood’s most beloved director for decades, and his personal life seemed as squeaky-clean as the world of his films. But when he and his wife, leading lady Pennyroyal Brim, file for divorce, the mud starts to fly. She accuses him of bedroom tyranny, sexual perversion, and every stripe of abuse. When she announces a tell-all memoir, Wax fires back the only way he can. He calls Stewart Hoag, ghostwriter to the stars.

To tell Wax’s side of the story, Hoagy and his basset hound Lulu have to get closer to the boy wonder than anyone ever has. The true story of the man behind America’s most family-friendly films is even darker than the press suspects, and people will die to keep it hidden from view.

“Anyone caught up in occasional Hollywood hype should love this series addition…The debonair, clever, and arrogant Hoag (accompanied by basset hound Lulu) provides wit and sparkle in a succulent, intricate web of intrigue.”
Library Journal

The Woman Who Fell from Grace

Book 4

Few American novels are as beloved as Alma Glaze’s Revolutionary War epic, Oh, Shenandoah. Although Glaze died before she could write a sequel, she left behind an outline for one, along with instructions that it not be written until fifty years after her death. The deadline has passed, and the American public clamors for the long-promised Sweet Land of Liberty. Only one thing stands in its way: Glaze’s heirs.

Her daughter, socialite Mavis Glaze, is writing the novel under guidance from her mother, who she claims has been appearing in her dreams. As Mavis’s writing spirals farther into madness, her brothers hire Stewart Hoag, a ghostwriter famous for dealing with troublesome celebrities. When he arrives at the family’s Virginia manor, he finds that Alma’s is not the only unsettled spirit. Blood was spilt for Oh, Shenandoah, and more will die before the sequel hits the bestseller list.

“Handler’s breezy, unpretentious and warm-hearted hero provides a breath of fresh air in a world of investigative angst.”
Publishers Weekly

The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald

Book 3

Stewart Hoag knows how quickly fame can fade. The same critics who adored his first novel used his second for target practice, ending his literary career once and for all. To keep his basset hound fed, Hoagy ghostwrites memoirs for the rich, famous, and self-destructive. His newest subject reminds him all too much of himself.

By the age of twenty, Cam Noyes is already being hailed as the next F. Scott Fitzgerald. Though he’s only published one book, Cam runs with the big boys: dating artists, trashing restaurants, and ending every night in a haze of tequila and cocaine. So glamorous is his lifestyle that he’s having trouble starting his second novel, forcing his agent to hire Hoagy to get the little genius working on a memoir instead. As Hoagy digs into the kid’s life story, he learns that New York publishing is even more cutthroat than he thought.

“In a wickedly amusing tale, Handler pokes fun at wunderkind authors, unscrupulous agents, shady publishers and, of course, surly reviewers as he continues the adventures of his hero, ghostwriter Stewart ‘Hoagy’ Hoag.”
Publishers Weekly

The Man Who Lived by Night

Book 2

From the first time they played on the Ed Sullivan Show, Us was the hottest band on earth. For more than a decade, the group tore through the charts and indulged in an endless cycle of drugs, women, and violence, until two musicians died—the drummer by drugs, the guitarist by a crazed gunman. Once the band was finished, lead singer Tristam Scarr retreated to the English countryside, hiding from the world until the day he hires an American to ghostwrite his memoirs.

Stewart Hoag arrives in London in the company of Lulu, his ever-hungry basset hound, to find the rock idol of his youth reduced to a wheezing, frail fortysomething. The first thing Starr tells him is that their drummer never overdosed—he was murdered. And as their interviews progress, Hoagy learns that working for a rock star is almost as dangerous as being one.

“If I could get Stewart Hoag to ghostwrite my books they’d sell better, and I’d laugh myself silly. David Handler is a hoot, and his books are just the thing for what ails you. I find it hard to begrudge him his Edgar®!”
—Parnell Hall, NYT Bestselling Author

The Man Who Died Laughing

Book 1

Stewart Hoag’s first novel made him the toast of New York. Everyone in Manhattan wanted to be his friend, and he traveled the cocktail circuit supported by Merilee, his wife, and Lulu, his basset hound. But when writer’s block sunk his second novel, his friends, money, and wife all disappeared. Only Lulu stuck by him.

The only opportunity left is ghostwriting—an undignified profession that still beats dental school. His first client is Sonny Day, an aging comic who was the king of slapstick three decades ago. Since he and his partner had a falling out in the late 1950s, Day has grown embittered and poor, until the only thing left for him to do is write a memoir. Hoagy and Lulu fly to Hollywood expecting a few months of sunshine and easy living. Instead they find Day’s corpse, and a murder rap with Hoagy’s name on it.

“Stewart Hoag, amateur private eye, has smarts and intelligence. Handler brings his characters to life instantly the voices are original and real. Best of all, though, Handler treats his audience with respect. He doesn t write down. And Lulu will steal your heart.”
—Carolyn Haines, USA Today Bestselling Author