THE MAN WHO
WASN’T ALL THERE
Publisher: Severn House (May, 2021)
A Stewart Hoag mystery (Book 12 of 12)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
After a long rough spell, personally and professionally, Stewart Hoag is back. His writer’s block has finally broken while staying in the opulent Central Park apartment lent him by his ex-wife, movie star Merilee Nash, who is on location in Budapest. It’s not just his career as a novelist that has taken a turn for the better: the love he and Merilee shared has been rekindled. After several productive months in New York City, Stewart and his constant companion, Lulu the basset hound, head to Merilee’s farm near Lyme, Connecticut for a change of scene.
Stewart plans to have a peaceful respite in the country, but shortly after settling in his privacy is invaded by a slovenly, hygienically challenged man in an ersatz state police uniform, driving a battered Crown Royal. He demands to see Merilee, and refuses to believe that she’s not there. After making a vague threat, he takes off. Minutes later he has another visitor, Merilee’s neighbor, checking to be sure he’s okay after his visit from the eccentric and volatile Austin Talmadge. Talmadge, recently released from a psychiatric institution, is the second richest person in Connecticut. His brother Michael is the richest, and is a personal friend of the governor, so the law has to handle him with kid gloves.
When Austin is brutally murdered, there is no shortage of suspects. As a child, he’d shot Michael in the face with a bb gun, and killed his cousins’ dog. He bullied another cousin so relentlessly that she finally took her own life. While impersonating a policeman, he’d hassled many of his neighbors. Even Stewart has a motive, after Austin put him and Lulu in peril. He’s quickly cleared, and is able to help the authorities solve the crime.
Stewart is smart and resourceful, and it doesn’t take long for him to identify the culprit. He’s also eccentric and marches to his own drummer, which would explain the unique way in which he gets the suspect to confess. Merilee might not approve, but it gets the job done.
Hoag is a complex and engaging protagonist and Merilee is his equal in likability and eccentricity. Together they are a force to be reckoned with, and this reader looks forward to their future adventures. Highly recommended.
***** Pre-order information:
THE MAN WHO WASN'T ALL THERE (Stewart Hoag Mystery)
Paperback – October 26, 2021
By David Handler
Publisher: Severn House Publishers (October 26, 2021)