The Lady in the Silver Cloud by David Handler
Expected publication date: February 1, 2022 – Penzler Publishers/Mysterious Press
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Ghostwriting sleuth Stewart Hoag investigates the murder of his wealthy neighbor—and discovers her dark, mobbed-up past
A 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is a fantastically expensive car, especially in the pristine condition of the one owned by Muriel Cantrell. Living in a luxury apartment building on Central Park West, the delicate, sweet 75-year-old woman is a neighbor of Merilee Nash, the beautiful movie star, and Stewart Hoag, whose first book was a sensation but whose career crashed when he became involved with drugs and alcohol. Divorced ten years earlier, Hoagy has been welcomed back into Merilee’s life and apartment.
Apparently universally beloved in her building, residents are shocked when Muriel is murdered after a Halloween party. No one takes it harder than her long-time chauffeur, Bullets Durmond, whose previous job was as an enforcer for the mob. Who in the world would want to harm the silver-haired lady whose major vices were buying shoes and Chanel suits (always in cash), and watching day-time soap operas?
Lieutenant Romaine Very of the NYPD is called to investigate and again seeks help from his friend Hoagy who, along with his basset hound Lulu, has been an invaluable aide in the past. The investigation leads to the unexpected source of Muriel’s wealth, the history of her early years as a hatcheck girl at the Copacabana, how her chauffeur came to be called Bullets, her desperate meth-head nephew, and her wealthy neighbors, who have secrets of their own. (publisher)
It’s the 1990s so no cell phones, PCs, etc that make solving modern day crimes much easier in many ways. But the criminal still needs to be found and that is usually the result of capable detecting – in this case, one of NYPD’s best and his friend and author Stewart Hoag. Also on the team is Hoag’s basset hound Lulu.
Stewart has (hopefully) reconciled with his ex-wife and is living in her upscale Central Park West co-op. When a neighbor is found dead in a service stairwell it’s only natural that Hoag, Lieutenant Very, and Lulu are on the case. Colorful characters and suspects abound and the team will have to narrow things down quickly if they hope to catch the killer.
I enjoyed the time spent with the apparently recurring characters in this ongoing series. I think The Lady in the Silver Cloud is #12 or #13 but I’m happy to say it can stand alone. I like David Handler’s style that had me often laughing. I felt a “Only Murders in the Building” vibe and would definitely pick up the next in the series if it continues.
About the author:
David Handler is the Edgar Award-winning, critically acclaimed author of several bestselling mystery series. He began his career as a New York City reporter, and wrote his first two novels-Kiddo (1987) and Boss (1988)-about his Los Angeles childhood. In 1988 he published The Man Who Died Laughing, the first of his long-running series of mysteries starring ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful basset hound Lulu.