Saturday 22 July 2017




Struggling writer Jack Dillon’s personal and professional life is falling apart…until he gets a lucrative gig writing the biography of TV comedy icon Walt Stuckey, who mysteriously walked away from Hollywood at the height of his popularity…and left his millions of fans wondering why for decades. Now Walt’s going to answer the tantalizing question, assuring that his biography will become a massive bestseller and Jack’s salvation. But when Walt is finally ready to tell Jack his big secret, things go terribly, unpredictably wrong, pushing the desperate author into kidnapping…becoming a fugitive chased by the police, the FBI, the news media, a crazed assassin, and Walt’s talentless & psychopathic son…just to finish the book. It’s a brutally original, crazy ride through California, Death Valley and TV history as Jack tries to solve the mystery and craft a perfect finale that doesn’t end with him going to prison… or to his grave.

"Philip Reed’s smartly written novel will have readers off and running from the first word and they won’t stop until the pages run out." Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times Bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot

Selected by Kings River Life Magazine as ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2015 - "This book is wacky, surprising, and a great read."

Another one I read and enjoyed over a year ago and then never posted on. I seem to recall liking the first part of the book better than the second.

A journalist has been hired to write a biography of one of America’s best loved TV hosts, one who is loved and remembered fondly by the public, but who mysteriously quit when at the top. There’s a really interesting set-up as our writer Jack Dillon gets to know his subject Walt Stuckey. There’s a real connection between Dillon and Stuckey and you sense that Jack can get the biography done and really turn his life around. Currently his finances are bleak and his personal relationship with his wife (or partner, can’t remember which) is rocky. Things go swimmingly until they don’t – Walt suffers a stroke.

As a consequence, Walt’s idiot son Garrett gets involved in his care and exercises artistic control over Jack’s work in progress. Garrett really is a twisted individual and him and Jack clash. Jack gets the boot and with genuine concerns for Walt’s well-being and not just his book deal, career and relationship disappearing over the horizon - he kidnaps our stroke victim.

Mayhem ensues, the police get involved. Jack and Walt are on the run. Jack aided by a strange women, Mary who may or may not have been a girlfriend of Walt’s. I really can’t remember, other than recalling she’s a bit of a strange fish. Garrett’s turns psychopath. And the inevitable media circus descends.

A bit far-fetched and a suspension of disbelief is required, but it was a really enjoyable romp.
Highlights were the connection between Jack and Walt and Walt and his public. Really heart-warming. Reed also does an excellent job in portraying Garrett as a larger-than-life villain with no redeeming features. You really bat for Jack and Walt and hope that the douche-bag doesn’t get to profit from his father’s (historic) success and continued celebrity.

Plenty of humour and plenty of tension, especially when the hunt for the kidnapper and kidnappee is in full flow.

4 from 5

My first time reading Philip Reed but I have a few other offerings from him on the shelves – Bird Dog, Low Rider and The Marquis de Fraud.

Philip Reed has his website here.

Read in July, 2016
Published – 2015
Page count – 321
Source – review copy from publisher Brash Books
Format - Kindle


  1. That sounds like a really interesting premise for a story, Col. And I do like a bit of wit in a story - especially a rather black one. It makes the whole thing better. Glad you enjoyed this.

    1. I'd really like to read his other books fairly soon, as thinking about this one reminded me how enjoyable his writing was.

  2. Another one that's tempting me, that sounds like a really good solid story, and funny too is a plus...

    1. Moira it struck the right balance between humour and mystery. Worth a look.

  3. That one sounds interesting and I love the cover.

    1. The cover is very unusual and it does have a skull!