cover image Favor


Parnell Hall. Dutton Books, $17.95 (249pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-096-2

Stanley Hastings is just a guy who can't say ``no.'' When Sgt. William MacAuliff of the NYPD asks a favor, Stanley's obliging nature catapults him into a web of intrigue that is pure entertainment for the reader. In Hall's third novel (after Murder ) featuring the reluctant amateur sleuth, Stanley's job as drone for an ambulance-chasing attorney becomes secondary to the favor he must perform. So he heads to Atlantic City to investigate the peccadillos of MacAuliff's sleazy son-in-law, Harold Dunleavy. Using a hilarious, albeit unbelievable, modus operandi, Stanley becomes entangled with the mob, a blackmail scheme and two murders. Not surprisingly, he is the prime suspect in both murders and must somehow manage to clear his name while protecting MacAuliff's interests. Stanley's chutzpah, under the circumstances, is admirable. But his antics can grow tiresome for those who are not fans of the wing-and-a-prayer school of detection. (September)