cover image The Girl Who Took What She Wanted: A Stewart Hoag Mystery

The Girl Who Took What She Wanted: A Stewart Hoag Mystery

David Handler. Mysterious, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-613163-84-9

It’s 1989 in Edgar winner Handler’s superior 14th Stewart Hoag mystery (after 2022’s The Lady in the Silver Cloud), and Alberta Pryce, Hoag’s loyal agent, has a ghost-writing job for her client, who was once considered “the first major new literary voice of the 1980s” but went into a self-destructive spiral under the pressure of trying to write a second book. Nikki Dymtryk, “a spoiled wild child” whose life as a teen is the basis for Being Nikki, a hit TV show, decides when the program plateaus to become the bestselling author of a Hollywood romance novel, despite her lack of literary talent. Tempted by a lucrative payday, Hoag travels from New York to California to meet with her, only to be threatened with death if he proceeds further. The bludgeoning murder of someone he meets follows, and Hoag must sort through a variety of suspects before arriving at the gut-punch solution to the crime. 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. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Feb.)