New York City PI Stanley Hastings could be forgiven for feeling like one of Kafka's tortured characters in this intricate and fiendishly funny case, his 12th, after last year's Trial. Cranston Pritchert hires Hastings to find information about a young woman whom he recently met in a singles bar in an encounter that he believes may be used against him by someone in his investment firm. Though the story seems a little thin, Hastings is glad to have a case that pays and starts a search that leads him to a bartender, an heiress, nude dancers, a ""talent"" agent, his client's wife and business partners. Shortly after Hastings identifies the woman, he also come across a dead body. Then others, also involved in the investigation, turn up dead. When a crooked homicide cop decides Hastings would look good framed and hanged, not even the PI's old police pal Sgt. MacAullif is able to offer much help. The more Hastings, out on bail, investigates, the more the evidence seems to pile up against him. Smart dialogue, clever plotting and a perfectly executed reverse scam by Hastings result in sparkling entertainment. (Apr.) FYI: Parnell Hall is current president of the Private Eye Writers of America.