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From Publishers Weekly
In Hall's 15th outing to feature offbeat New York PI Stanley Hastings (after 2001's Cozy), a new client, Joe Balfour, admits he once served time for manslaughter after killing a man in a barroom brawl. Now, 25 years later, blackmailer Philip T. Grackle is threatening to make this embarrassing fact public. When Grackle is found with a carving knife in his heart, Balfour is arrested for murder. The plethora of suspects includes Balfour's daughter, who works in a topless bar, but the truth proves elusive, leading to a number of wacky complications and a vague ending. Though far from compelling, the story moves at a good clip, buoyed by snappy dialogue and its amusing, eccentric narrator. Hastings sizes up Balfour as "a simpleminded but amiable lout, who obviously killed only at the behest of undesirable companions who led him into evil against his will." He adds, "Of course I was making all that up. All I really knew about Balfour was that he was a impediment I had to circumvent before setting out on my actual job, chasing ambulances for a negligence lawyer." Whodunit fans with a taste for the unconventional will find this just what the doctor ordered.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Here's the latest installment in the long-running Stanley Hastings chronicle, a series of lighthearted mysteries featuring a New York private eye who would be perfectly happy chasing ambulances for small-time lawyers but, instead, keeps stumbling into cases that quickly become way too complicated. This time around, Stanley is hired by Joe Balfour, an ex-con who is being blackmailed. Stanley is supposed to pose as Balfour at a meeting with the blackmailer, but our hero asks his cop buddy, MacAulif, to sit in for him. Then several things happen, lightning-fast: MacAulif is slapped across the face by a luscious young woman; Stanley learns there is no such person as Joe Balfour; and the luscious beauty apparently turns out to be the daughter of the man who called himself Balfour. What the heck is going on? And can Stanley sort out the mystery while keeping his skin, and his sense of humor, intact? As usual, Hall has crafted a mystery that's both funny and genuinely mysterious, a real treat for his many fans. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Having survived a murderously uncomfortable New England holiday in the much-praised Cozy, private eye Stanley Hastings returns to more familiar New York urban turf with his twisted logic and droll style effectually intact. With Joe Balfour—a client who did time 25 years ago for killing a man in a barroom brawl—Stanley embarks on an ingeniously plotted and frequently hilarious excursion that will confront him continually with embarrassments: like the arrest of his client for the murder of a notorious blackmailer who’s been found in his Upper East Side apartment with a carving knife in his back. And before he cracks the case, Stanley will be breaking and entering, contaminating crime scenes, concealing evidence (or else planting it), framing two innocent men for two different homicides, aiding an extortionist, hanging out in a topless bar, blackmailing a few attorneys, and outwitting the cops. This is the fifteenth novel in the long-running mystery series that the New York Times finds “very funny” in its “manic nonsense” and “fiendish constructions of sound logic.”
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