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Actor (Stanley Hastings Mystery Book 8) [Kindle Edition]

Parnell Hall
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

What's this? Stanley Hastings playing the lead in George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man on two days notice? What could possibly go wrong? Well, a backstage murder during dress rehearsal, for starters.

“A real romp. Hilarious. Wins our vote for Best Performance by an Actor on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”
—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“If you enjoy the backstage backgrounds of writers like Ngaio Marsh and Simon Brett, and if the prospect of an unashamedly old-fashioned whodunit with no apparent concern beyond reader pleasure is attractive, this is your book.”
—Jon. L. Breen, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

“Easily one of the best backstage murder mysteries I have read.”
—Mystery Review

“The standing ovation is well deserved.”
—Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stanley Hastings is a frenzied PI whose six comic misadventures while investigating accident cases for a Manhattan law firm have been chronicled in Shot , Detective et al. Having interviewed people with broken legs and photographed holes in the sidewalks for 20 years, Stanley has nearly forgotten that he was an aspiring actor before he took up detecting. He's overjoyed when an old theater chum asks him to step into a production of Shaw's Arms and the Man in the wilds of Connecticut just two short days before opening. There he runs afoul of a persnickety stage manager and the arrogant no-talent, soap opera-trained star and gets to share a dressing room with a young actress of few inhibitions. When the stage manager is stabbed to death, Stanley must call on his real-life skills to extricate himself from the role of leading suspect. Removed from his urban setting, Stanley stumbles through a few uncharacteristically slow moments, but soon he is up to his painted face in leads, tangled motives and cold sweat as he faces a matinee audience, planning to resolve the case with a surprising deviation from the Shavian script. The standing ovation is well-deserved.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Ambulance-chasing shamus and long-ago amateur thespian Stanley Hastings (Juror, Shot, etc.) runs up to Connecticut to help out his old college friend Herbert Drake by taking over the role of Bluntschli, in Arms and the Man, from the late Walter Penbridge. Opening night, which Stanley miraculously survives, is marred when he discovers the corpse of stage manager Goobie Wheatly, who had loudly humiliated him just the day before--so that he naturally becomes friendly local Chief Bob's chief suspect, beating out even such competitors as hammy TV actor Avery Allington and leading lady Margie Miller, whose amorous exploits can't leave her much time to sleep. The usual Hastings formula--mystery-mongering with amusingly lowbrow byplay substituting for detection. Middling for the series. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 435 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Parnell Hall (September 29, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00457XFLK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,057 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Hastings is an adorable sleuth January 30, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am in the process of collecting all of the Stanley Hastings books in hardcover. I have read them all and he is the most entertaining sleuth in the business. His reluctance at being drawn into the mystery makes the plots all the more irresistable and as a result, they are not predictable. He makes me laugh out loud...never have I read a more charming character.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the very best of the Stanley Hastings series February 6, 2001
By A Customer
I have read at least five other books featuring the unique Stanley Hastings, but this one is special because of the different setting. Instead of his usual ambulance-chasing, Stanley gets to play a major part in a production of "Arms and the Man". I had read the play long ago, and that added to my enjoyment of the book. Rarely has a protagonist risen so triumphantly over countless humiliating circumstances; you have to admire the almost masochistic determination of actors who put up with all he describes in hilarious, but still almost depressing detail. Ambulance-chasing in the Bronx seems a picnic compared to Stanley's experiences in this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious! March 18, 2000
PI Stanley Hastings is called by an old college buddy to fill in for an actor who died right before opening night of ARMS AND THE MAN in a tiny New England town. The stage manager promptly gets himself murdered, and Stanley has to help Chief Bob (an amateur actor himself) find the killer. The search is a comically depressing examination of backstage life and midlife crisis that leaves the reader amazed at Stanley's emotional resilience.
The amount of theatrical detail Hall included was impressive, and I enjoyed his use of internal dialogue, which ranks right up there with Lawrence Block's. And it's the rare mystery author who can sneak a Pinter joke into the dialogue like Hall does. I did find Stanley's hang-up on the spelling of the word "actor" mildly distracting, but it would take an awful lot more than that to detract from the fun of this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I am reading this mostly excellent series in order November 26, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am reading this mostly excellent series in order. I enjoyed the first seven books immensely. I found this story, however, to be less than up to the standard set by the prior books. An enjoyable read, to be sure, but so much of the book was about acting and so little about solving a murder, I found myself restless and bored at times. Given the degree to which I've enjoyed previous titles, I'm willing to cut the author some slack - on to the 9th in the series and beyond!
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More About the Author

Parnell's back from filming leopards and wild dogs in Botswana. While he was gone, his new book, Safari, featuring private eye Stanley Hastings, got a good review in the New York Times. His Next Puzzle Lady crossword puzzle mystery, Puzzled Indemnity, will be out in January.

The first 15 out-of-print Stanley Hastings private eye novels are now on kindle, including the Edgar and Shamus nominated DETECTIVE and the Shamus and Lefty nominee MOVIE.

The 5 Steve Winslow courtroom dramas (THE BAXTER TRUST, THE ANONYMOUS CLIENT, etc), are on kindle, as well as the 6th, never-before-published novel, THE INNOCENT WOMAN.

Parnell is a former President of the Private Eye Writers of America, and a member of Sisters in Crime. He lives in New York City.

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