cover image Actor


Parnell Hall. Mysterious Press, $19.95 (273pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-520-5

Stanley Hastings is a frenzied PI whose six comic misadventures while investigating accident cases for a Manhattan law firm have been chronicled in Shot , Detective et al. Having interviewed people with broken legs and photographed holes in the sidewalks for 20 years, Stanley has nearly forgotten that he was an aspiring actor before he took up detecting. He's overjoyed when an old theater chum asks him to step into a production of Shaw's Arms and the Man in the wilds of Connecticut just two short days before opening. There he runs afoul of a persnickety stage manager and the arrogant no-talent, soap opera-trained star and gets to share a dressing room with a young actress of few inhibitions. When the stage manager is stabbed to death, Stanley must call on his real-life skills to extricate himself from the role of leading suspect. Removed from his urban setting, Stanley stumbles through a few uncharacteristically slow moments, but soon he is up to his painted face in leads, tangled motives and cold sweat as he faces a matinee audience, planning to resolve the case with a surprising deviation from the Shavian script. The standing ovation is well-deserved. (May)