Friday, July 12, 2013

The Man Who Died Laughing

David Handler
The Man Who Died Laughing

Open Road Media/Mysterious Press e-book, 2012
(originally published in 1988)

A part of Friday Forgotten Books

Stewart Hoag was once literary star number one, with big money contracts, an actress wife and world fame. But after the debut novel Hoag hasn’t written anything else, and the fame and money was blown away by the wind. Hoag was left with nothing: his wife is gone, impotence and alcohol problems had started, and only a dog Lulu stayed with him. The agent, however, did not forget about Hoag and after several years of neglect has thrown up job for a writer. The job is not about the book under his own name anymore - Hoag was hired as ghostwriter for writing a biography of the former film and TV star Sonny Day.

Day has a lot in common with the Hoag: no one is interested in him anymore, no one offers him any roles, and Day almost lost contact with his family, and the only thing that's left of his past is money. Hoag has to write the biography of the comic and uncover his main secret: why Sonny had once quarreled with his colleague and friend Knight in the late fifties, so much so that Day and Knight have since could not stand each other.

Not every day you have a chance to read books with a ghostwriter as the main character, and Hoagy (as he asks to be called) is a nice addition to the collection of cops, private investigators and other characters with detective abilities and needs. But the murder will happen closer to the finale, and before that we have a chance to enjoy clever dialogues (take into account that part of the book consists of transcribed interviews by Hoagy with Day, and those who knew him) and the fictional life of the former movie star. Handler with great success recreates the life path of a fictional movie comic star, and one can hardly believe that Sonny Day is not a real historical figure, but figment of the imagination of Handler. But when the murder happenes, mystery lovers will not be disappointed.

The Man Who Died Laughing is Handler's debut novel and the first book about Stewart Hoag. More please.

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