on December 24, 1997
Manhattan Private Investigator Stanley Hastings has just been hired by Maxine Winnington, wife of a best selling author, to investigate who has been making threatening calls to her. Since his client's number is unlisted, brand new, and given to few people, Stanley has a narrow list of suspects to investigate. For the half grand a day fee, Stanley will work the entire list.
However, Stanley's case takes a bizarre twist when a murder occurs and he is one of the chief suspects as much of the evidence points towards him. Though the famous writer has made numerous enemies who might want to destroy him, Stanley cannot fathom the link to him since he is a non. Still, Stanley now has a personal reason to solve this case, especially when the real culprit tries to silent the private investigator permanently.
Stanley Hastings is the Rodney Dangerfield of the PI world with no one, including his wife or his clients giving him any respect. In his thirteenth novel, Stanley still is extremely spry and one of the most humorist sleuths on the market today. With all that jocular satire, spoofing the genre, Parnell Hall places his hero (anti-hero?) in an interesting, very suspense laden who-done-it.
on September 3, 2000
Parnell Hall's 13th comic novel about Stanley Hastings proves lucky for the author but unlucky for the accident investigator with a family to support.
Hired by the wife of best-selling suspense novelist Kenneth P. Winnington to discover the identify of a crank caller, Hastings moves among the habitues of the publishing world, interviewing Winnington's agent, publicist, and two editors, one of whom rewrote his first book into a best-seller before being fired. But two interviews lead directly to two murders, and before long, Hastings manages to attract the attention of someone who wants him dead as well.
Like all of the other books, this is a fast-paced tale that gives Hall plenty of room to indulge in comic dialog that can at times sounds like he's channeling Abbott and Costello. But along the way, "Suspense" also picks up an entertaining subtext that takes Winnington's flat declaration that no author can write a suspense novel told from the hero's perspective. Hall takes up the challenge, and whips up a virtuoso performance. Hastings may object to his author's interference, especially when it leaves him in a situation in which there was no way out. Parnell Hall brings off this effect with panach; it's lucky that Hastings has Hall on his side.
on February 1, 2008
I picked up this book with the hope it would be on a par with Lawrence Block's excellent "Bernie the Burglar" series. But it isn't. It starts out reading like a comical cozy mystery, albeit with too much unnatural profanity. Stanley Hastings is hired by a rich lady to find out who is giving her threatening phone calls, and as he starts investigating, people drop dead. And then more interesting things happen, like a fish message that sounds like something the mafia might do. But just as it is getting good, the book takes a terrible left turn about 30 pages from the end, leaving me feeling terribly cheated. And the very final scene made no sense whatsoever... how in the world did the criminal get nabbed? I am sorry, this just didn't work for me at all.