cover image Suspense


Parnell Hall. Mysterious Press, $22.5 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-624-0

No bad luck for Hall as he unreels an amusing tongue-in-cheek 13th adventure for PI Stanley Hastings (after Scam, 1997). When Maxine Winnington, wife of bestselling thriller author Kenneth Winnington, hires Stanley to find out who's making threatening phone calls, the list of candidates seems pretty narrow. The Winningtons' unlisted, recently changed phone number has had limited distribution, mostly to people connected to Kenneth. Stanley, an aspiring author himself, is introduced to a bizarre publishing world: editors, agents, publicists and that seemingly limitless tribe who want to be published writers. The milieu with all its vagaries proves a ready target for Hall's well-aimed barbs as he reveals the secret behind Winnington's initial success and offers a delightfully accurate account of a bookstore signing. Stanley receives assistance from the usual sources: acerbic Sgt. MacAullif; Richard Rosenberg, his sarcastic lawyer and frequent employer; and his bemused wife, Alice. When the annoying phone calls lead to murder and Stanley becomes the hunted as well as the hunter, Hall proves as adept at creating on-page suspense as he is at lampooning it. (Jan.)