Friday, February 3, 2012
Friday's Forgotten Books: SHOT by Parnell Hall
Friday is Forgotten Book Day around here, so don't forget to check in with Patti's blog, PATTINASE, to see what other forgotten books other bloggers are reminding you of today.
I am a long time reader of the Stanley Hastings books by Parnell Hall. (I'm thrilled a new one is due out this month.) Stanley is the most endearingly hapless private eye east of the Poconos. His neighborhood is all of Manhattan and the four boroughs, wherever Richard Rosenberg - hot shot, ambulance chasing attorney - elects to send him. He gets a few cents a mile and about ten bucks a day.
Stanley's main job is to sign up accident victims planning to sue for damages. His crime solving is on the side and purely happenstance. He makes no bones about the fact that he doesn't consider himself a 'real' private eye. He's a very humble guy with an occasional potty mouth. I love him.
Stanley is happily married and has a young son he adores, an anomaly in the annals of New York private eye fiction. He loves his long-suffering wife too. Stanley is a pushover when it comes to his family but that doesn't keep these stories from having a hard-edged noirish vibe. The author has a knack for making all this work.
SHOT is the seventh book in the series. It's the story of how Stanley is first hired then fired by a plain Jane client who wants him to investigate her younger and very good looking boyfriend.
Stanley misconstrues a series of late-night drop-offs and pick-ups and is convinced the boyfriend is some sort of drug dealer. When said boyfriend is killed and Stanley's client arrested by his odious nemesis, Sgt. Thurman of the NYPD, it's Stanley to the rescue. Except that the client wants nothing to do with him. (She's a bit angry about Stanley's revelation that the boyfriend was seeing a glam blond on the side.)
But does that stop Stanley from doing what he thinks is right? Nope. To that end he must travel hither and yon - well, to Harlem and back to midtown, then the Bronx and Queens - while continuing to sign up accident victims, fighting for truth and justice on his own time.
In his travels around New York, he befriends a ten year old African American boy who is being used as a drug mule by an odious pusher, manages to confound and totally confuse the official NYPD investigation into the boyfriend's murder and, oh by the way, get himself shot and left for dead.
Part of the reason why I enjoyed SHOT so much is that Richard Rosenberg, Stanley's shark of a lawyer boss, is on hand for more than just a few sentences. I adore the guy. He is simply and hilariously every lawyer cliche personified. When Stanley is arrested - which happens occasionally - Richard is on the job.
The score so far in the series, Richard Rosenberg - 100, the cops - zip.
If you enjoy a good laugh with your murder investigations, don't pass this series up.
To see a complete list of Parnell Hall's Stanley Hastings mysteries, please use this link.