Thursday, October 15, 2015

Spyfall - John Hegenberger


I had nothing to do with publishing John Hegenberger's novel SPYFALL, which comes out in a couple of days, so I can rave about how good it is without seeming too self-serving. As I've said before, I love a book that has a distinctive voice, and SPYFALL certainly does. Stan Wade is a private detective in a vividly realized Los Angeles in 1959, primarily taking cases that involve the movie community (as Dan Turner, Bill Lennox, and many other fictional private eyes did before him), but he's also something of an unofficial secret agent, handing sensitive assignments involving politics and espionage that come his way from one of his regular clients, Walt Disney. Yeah, that's right, Uncle Walt his own self is actually a secret spymaster on the side of the good guys.

And that's just the start of a caper (there's really no other good word to describe this novel) involving Ian Fleming, Mickey Cohen, and countless other cameo appearances by historical figures from the era. The action moves swiftly from L.A. to Jamaica to Berlin to Paris, with a shadowy Russian assassin trying to kill Stan every step of the way. With all of this going on, Stan still manages to influence history in ways we never would have guessed.

SPYFALL is just pure fun, packed with humor, plot twists, and occasional dark undertones. Stan Wade is a very likable narrator/protagonist, and his friend and aspiring private eye Norman is a fine sidekick. There are more pop culture references than you can keep up with, which can sometimes get tiresome very quickly, but Hegenberger keeps them fresh and realistic and never annoying. SPYFALL is one of the best books I've read this year, and luckily there are several more Stan Wade adventures in the works. I'm looking forward to them.

4 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I have been seeing the cover of this book and I'd certainly like to read it. It sounds like fun, as capers usually are.

jhegenbe said...

It's a history mystery, Doc.

Thanks for the killer review!

jhegenbe said...

And James forgot to mention, bless his soul, that he'll be including an immediate follow-up story in his "Otherverse" anthology next month, where Stan meets Rod Serling in Halloween of 1959.

Daniel Stumpf said...

Definitely worth your reading time!