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A book by Parnell Hall

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Comic mystery series finds new life in Kindle format

  • Oct 8, 2010
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but Stanley Hastings -- Parnell Hall's New York private investigator -- is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, if you know what I mean. But he is the funniest p.i. in mysteries today.

Don't misunderstand me. Hastings has enough brains to handle his job, which mostly involves recruiting accident victims for the attorney he works for. But when it comes to a real case, the reactions of the people who know him -- his boss, Richard Rosenberg, his short-suffering wife, Alice (who loves him, but doesn't take as a personal insult his lack of mental acuity) and his contact on the police force, Sgt. MacAuliff -- all respond in the same way: "Somebody hired you?"

In "Scam," Hall's 12th book, Hastings is hired by a man who chatted up a girl in a bar, and woke up hours later on the street. The man feels he is being set up, but he doesn't know by whom or why. Hastings finds the girl, but that is the last easy thing that happens, as New York's most hapless detective bumbles into a scheme involving a company's proxy fight and Hastings becomes suspect number one in three murders.

Hall's books are characterized by dialog-friendly writing and tight plotting, and the shaggy-dog feel of "Scam" is funny as it is clever. Stanley, too, can be a kick to watch working. While he's an easy target, he's also decent and honorable, worrying as much as Nintendo's moral effect on his son as the three murder charges have on him. Despite the humiliation and ribbing he receives, he presses onward, which makes him -- surprise, surprise! -- an admirable figure. While waiting for the refrigerator light to go on inside Hastings' head, Hall throws in enough plot twists and genial insults to keep the reader's attention until the inevitable and satisfying finish.

Once out of print, Hall has ported several books in his series over to the Kindle


As well as the Nook:


For only $2.99, they're a bargain.

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Bill Peschel ()
Ranked #476
Bill Peschel was born in 1960 in Ohio, and grew up there and in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism. At The Avalon Hill Game Company … more
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About this book


Parnell Hall's "Scam" proves once and for all that murder can be funny--as well as mind-boggling. The charming hero of Hall's series of mysteries is Stanley Hastings, a nonviolent, slightly neurotic investigator who pays the rent by working for a New York negligence lawyer. When one of Stanley's clients claim he's being set up by one of the partners in an investment firm, the erstwhile PI doesn't take him seriously--until the bodies pile up and Stanley falls under suspicion of murder.

Hall performs miraculous feats in the course of this rollicking tale: he constructs a remarkably labyrinthine plot and manages to tie off all the loose ends while maintaining a madcap pace marked by hilarious crosstalk and knockabout interactions between Stanley and his cop foil that would do P. G. Wodehouse proud. For crime and comedy under one cover, Scam is a perfect choice. --This text refers to an out of print hardcover edition of this title. It is available on the Kindle and the Nook.

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ISBN-10: 0786212101
ISBN-13: 978-0786212101
Author: Parnell Hall
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Thorndike Press
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