>Review: Stein, Stoned by Hal Ackerman


by Hal Ackerman
Murder, mystery, dope and an ex-hippie pot head turned single parent detective???

Stein, Stoned

In the sixties, Harry Stein was the foremost authority on cannabis; writing the book on indoor cultivation, inventing thirteen different hybrids, and planting “Victory Gardens” across America behind police precincts, legislature courtyards, and legendarily in the rose garden of the Nixon White House. Flash forward to the 20th anniversary of John Lennon’s death and Stein is now employed by a “product liability re-insurance firm” and spending his 50th birthday counting a warehouse full of shampoo bottles.  Although not the revolutionary of the future he once imagined himself to be, staying on the path of the straight and narrow allows Stein to keep that which he holds most precious in his life: joint custody of his teenage daughter, Angie. When Stein comes up 1,000 shampoo bottles short in his count and his investigations lead him to stumble upon the body of a brutally murdered supermodel, he is forced down a trail littered with old friends, new enemies, and one final journey into the world he long since left behind. . .
In Hal Ackerman’s debut novel we are introduced to a new kind of hero. Harry Stein is like a “Fletch” goes “Up in Smoke” with Cheech & Chong and along the way solves a mystery type of hero. He is trying his best to live a straight life and be the kind of dad his teenage daughter needs but his colorful past is hard to dim. We get a great image of the present Stein being reminded of his past in the first chapter where he is talking to his daughter, Angie, about a history assignment she has due comparing “Woodstock I to Woodstock II” to which he asks his daughter “Your school legitimizes Woodstock II?!!?”… They proceed to get into a mini-debate that will feel very familiar to any parent. The whole relationship dynamic between parent and child is well depicted and the character development in general was very well crafted.
The twists and turns in the plot were completely entertaining and though there were serious issues that the characters were dealing with, Ackerman incorporated a healthy dose of humor into the mix. From Los Angeles to Amsterdam we follow Stein as he tracks down the stolen cannabis and gets reacquainted with the past he thought he’d left behind. Stein Stoned is a very clever story and the most surprising novel I have read this year.
Thank you Hal Ackerman!

Visit Hal Ackerman Website | Facebook
Special thanks to Kaye Publicity for suggesting “Stein Stoned” to PBD.


A soft-boiled detective story where The Big Lebowski meets Fletch.

In the sixties, Harry Stein was the foremost authority on cannabis, writing a book on indoor cultivation and inventing thirteen different hybrids. Nowadays, he stays straight to keep joint custody of his daughter. But when a crop of “orchids” goes missing, Stein must re-enter the haze he thought he’d left behind.
Hal Ackerman has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television for the past twenty-four years and is currently co-chair of the screenwriting program. His book, Write Screenplays That SellThe Ackerman Way, is in its third printing, and is the text of choice in a growing number of screenwriting programs around the country.

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