cover image Murder


Parnell Hall. Dutton Books, $17.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-058-0

Hall made his notable debut with Detective. His hero, timid New York City private eye Stanley Hastings, recounts his new exploits here. By turns hair-raising and hilarious, the story concerns the troubles of Pamela Berringer, who lives in the same building as the detective's family and has a child in their son's kindergarten class. Pamela has been forced into prostitution because a pimp holds a tape that shows her as a seemingly consenting sex partner of a ""client,'' but she was actually duped into the rendezvous. A thoroughly frightened Stanley goes to the pimp's lair in hopes that no one is at home so he can search for the tape. He finds it, but unluckily, he also finds the blackmailer fatally stabbed, and once more comes under fire from suspicious Sergeant MacAuliff, his nemesis in the first mystery. To clear his name, Hastings must produce evidence against the killer; in fear and trembling, he insinuates himself into the company of hoodlums and other murderous types. In the close, the author delivers a surprise that stresses the sleuth's warm, human side rather than his daring fecklessness. Troll Book Club selection; paperback rights to NAL. (January 29)