Sunday, October 28, 2012

David Handler

David Handler’s first book in the Berger and Mitry series, The Cold Blue Blood, was a Dilys Award finalist and BookSense Top Ten pick. Handler is also the author of eight novels about the witty and dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, including Edgar and American Mystery Award winner The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Handler's latest novel in the Berger and Mitry series is The Snow White Christmas Cookie.

A few weeks ago I asked the author what he was reading.  His reply:
Don’t laugh, okay? I’m currently reading a children’s book. Or I should say re-reading one. My girlfriend Diana and I were talking recently about the books we’d read as little kids that made a lasting impression on us. Naturally, since the grown-up me has resorted to a life of crime fiction, I immediately mentioned the Hardy Boys. I loved Frank and Joe Hardy when I was a kid. But I was also a huge fan of Freddy the Pig, a nimble and intrepid detective who solved an assortment of barnyard crimes large and small on Mr. Bean’s farm. Freddy’s partner in detection was Mrs. Wiggins the Cow. And his best friend was Jinx the Cat. I remember the Freddy books as being witty and cleverly plotted. And yet whenever I mention my fond memories of them to friends I’m always met with blank stares. Some of them even think I’m pulling their leg. They refuse to believe that there was ever a pig detective, particularly a nimble and intrepid one.

Not so Diana, who was a children’s librarian when she first got out of college. She not only remembered the Freddy series by a gifted writer named Walter R. Brooks, who wrote for The New Yorker, but she discovered that the books are actually back in print after decades of oblivion. And so, to my delight, I can report that I am currently re-reading a landmark work of crime fiction called Freddy the Detective, complete with the original illustrations by Kurt Wiese. Freddy the Detective was originally published way back in 1932, but you wouldn’t know it. Like all classic literature it remains fresh and timeless. It’s also as wry and hilarious as I remembered. Sarcasm. There’s actual sarcasm. I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having re-reading it.

Fans of my Berger-Mitry and Hoagy mysteries often ask me to name the writers who have influenced my work. They’re also curious about where on earth I got the idea for Hoagy’s sidekick, Lulu, who happens to be a basset hound. I always mention Ross Thomas and Donald Westlake as being huge influences on me. I never mention the name Walter R. Brooks. But from now on I promise I will. Because he was there from the very beginning. And so was Freddy.
Visit David Handler's website and blog.

Writers Read: David Handler (October 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue