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by David Handler
William Morrow, August 2018
256 pages
ISBN: 006241285X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Hoagy Stewart and his side kick, Basset Hound Lulu, return in their tenth mystery in THE MAN WHO COULDN'T MISS. As the book opens, readers find Hoagy and Lulu staying in one of the renovated buildings on a Connecticut farm owned by Hoagy's exwife, Merilee Nash. Hoagy is a Hollywood ghost writer and has sought the solitude of the farm to work on his new book. Merilee is living in the main farmhouse while working on a benefit performance of a Noel Coward play to raise money to renovate a historical theater.

Pretty quickly one of the plots emerges. Hoagy receives a phone call from a former classmate of Marilee's from her Yale years demanding a large sum of money to keep quiet about an accident Merilee was involved in years before. While R.J. Romero was considered one of the best in the Yale theater department back in the day, his tough guy personality kept him from succeeding while the rest of the gang went on to have successful careers. Instead, R.J. developed drug and gambling problems and is in deep with various unsavory characters. Hoagy needs to figure out how to protect Merilee and deal with R.J.

Then, if that wasn't enough, the night of the big performance, one of the lead characters is found dead during intermission. Since the dead actor, along with two other cast members were also college friends of Merilee, their long running history is sure to come into play while Hoagy and Lulu work out what happened to Greg, the victim.

Although this is the tenth book in the series, it really is not necessary to have read any of the previous books. The author does an excellent job of giving what background on the characters or relationships that is needed through the telling of the story. For the most part, the characters in this book are new to readers of the series anyway. Only Merilee, Hoagy and Lulu are constants throughout the series.

The book takes place in the 1990's and it shows in several ways, most notably in the absence of high-tech forensics to solve the crime. In this case, it is Hoagy's wits that figure it out, not science. I found that refreshing.

There was a long gap between books eight and nine in this series. The author has brought Hoagy and Lulu back for two new ones fairly close together. Let's hope he will continue that pace and readers can look forward to several more Hoagy Stewart books.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, August 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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