cover image The Girl Who Ran Off with Daddy

The Girl Who Ran Off with Daddy

David Handler. Doubleday Books, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-47528-0

Stewart ""Hoagy"" Hoag, the ghostwriter who often stumbles into celebrity murder (The Man Who Cancelled Himself), is trying to enjoy the quiet country life in Connecticut with ex-wife Merilee and their baby when trouble roars up on a motorcycle. It's Hoagy's old friend Thor Gibbs, a legendary author who began with the Beats and lately trades in male-backlash writing. Thor has run off with his wife's daughter, Clethra, a lovely but apparently empty-headed 18-year-old. Hoagy agrees to take them in and help Clethra write her stormy story. When Thor's body is found in a pond on Hoagy and Merilee's farm, suspicion falls on the abandoned wife, a pioneering feminist. Other suspects include Clethra's father, his gay lover, Clethra's other boyfriends and a crew of local rowdies. With help from two unlikely police allies, Hoagy finally gets face-to-face with the killer. 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. (Apr.)