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Hitman: A Stanley Hastings Mystery (Stanley Hastings Mysteries) Hardcover – September 18, 2007

3.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stanley Hastings, the hapless PI who's recently taken somewhat of a backseat to Hall's Cora Felton puzzle lady series (You Have the Right to Remain Puzzled, etc.), reappears for his 16th case, the first since 2003's Manslaughter. Not to be confused with the macho type who carries a rod and gives or takes a beating in the course of his investigations, Stanley is more likely to have his ego beaten down by his caustic wife, Alice; long-suffering Sergeant MacAullif; or profit-hungry lawyer Richard Rosenberg, Stanley's only steady client. When hit man Martin Kessler retires before completing his final contract and hires Stanley to protect him from his irate employers, the bodies—and the absurdities—start piling up. The laughs aren't as frequent as in Stanley's prior outings, but the convoluted conclusion produces the kind of rueful groan elicited by a good shaggy dog story. It's good to see Stanley returning to the lists, even in such a humble offering. (Nov.)
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Review

[...] It's good to see Stanley returning to the lists, even in such a humble offering.

Parnell Hall succeeds in making Stanley Hastings one of a kind...pleasantly reminiscent of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Stanley Hastings Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933648538
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933648538
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,568,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Burton on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Stanley Hastings is, like his creator Parnell Hall, smart and funny. Hastings is a New York Private Investigator, like Hall. He doesn't carry a gun, he goes home to his wife, and he tries to do the right thing. In Hitman, Hastings finds himself embroiled in a case far from the usual slip and fall investigations. With a cast of fascinating characters, plot twists, and crisp and amusing dialogue, Hitman will entertain new and old fans of the Stanley Hastings series, and encourage Hall's readers to check out his other work as well. Read it where you can, even if it's not at the Silver Moon Bakery.
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Format: Paperback
Hall's forte (at least in this series) is speedy repartee. His efforts to obtain information, "hypothetically" from his detective friend McAuliffe sound like the Abbott & Costello "Who's On First?" routine (which still cracks me up after some 70 years). His discussions with Alice, his wife, remind me of a Burns & Allen skit. The plot is sufficiently rational, though nothing to brag about. A fast, easy, often hysterically funny read. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
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Format: Paperback
By page 24 I was wondering at the premise - a hitman who wants to retire means to hire PI Stanley Hastings for some unclear reason - and so were most of the peripheral characters in this novel: Stanley's wife Alice; his lawyer Richard Rosenberg; and his policeman friend MacAullif.

And surely when your even own characters are asking "What the Hell?", as an author you stop and think "Hmmm, maybe this plot is not such a good idea after all?"

But Parnell Hall clearly did not and pages 25 - 53 did not get much better, and neither did page 54 to the end of the novel.

Not that the writing style is bad, or the characters particularly poorly written, though Stanley's shift from "trip-and-fall" PI to the faster paced world of hitmen and your more typical PI seems a bit of a stretch, and his wife is painted with a whiff of misogyny that seemed more down-at-heel Philip Marlowe than white collar Stanley Hastings.

But really, this is pretty typical PI fare, skipping quickly from situation to situation, throwing in the expected world weary reflections on life, and with a body count that would see Law & Order's Jack McCoy put Stanley away for "Twenty to Life" in no time flat.

Sadly, I did not find Stanley Hastings "very funny" as the 'New York Times' apparently suggests that I should have. Instead, I found the idea off-center and the story not particularly engaging.
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Format: Paperback
At first, the witty banter of the protagonist Stanley Hastings, made me like this book. But quickly I discovered that witty banter does not make a story complete. The plot has to make sense and be compelling too.

Stanley Hastings is rather surprised when a hitman just shows up at his office, wanting help getting out of the business. But he's also not sure he wants to work for him. But a man's life is at stake and Stanley knows he has to take the case. He just doesn't realize how much trouble it's going to cause him. And getting involved is getting him into tons of trouble, both personally and also with the police. Going from a private investigator to a prime suspect was not in his plans. Of course, neither was getting shot at. But both things seem to happen quite a bit in this book.

I liked Stanley. He was a funny guy. Loves his wife, seems like a decent person, etc. He's a bit oblivious for a Private Investigator, and I'm not sure if the bumbling act was intentional or not. His wife Alice is an even better character. She seems to be the brains behind the operation and I enjoyed that. Although I wish she had a job of her own so she didn't have to rely on Stanley's exploits. The cops and lawyers in the book weren't as awesome as they could have been. In fact they all kind of seemed liked jerks. Of course we were seeing them through Stanley's eyes.

The plot is what disappointed me the most. For one, there was no way you could have seen the ending coming, and that just isn't quite fair when you are writing a crime mystery. Or at least a book that acts like a crime mystery. Everything skips around so much that its hard to keep track of where you are at in the book too.
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