cover image Strangler


Parnell Hall. Dutton Books, $16.95 (285pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-125-9

In Hall's fourth Stanley Hastings novel ( Detective ; Murder ; Favor ) the hero stumbles yet again into the arms of crime--this time, a series of strangulations of potential clients for detective Hastings's ambulance-chasing employers, the lawyers Rosenberg and Stone. Chief asset of the novel is Hastings himself, a likable if somewhat cowardly writer who has managed to turn his tawdry law-firm assignment into a challenging lifestyle. When faced with the dilemma of being detective ``By-the-Book'' Clark's prime suspect, Hastings realizes that he must resolve the mystery himself, not only to prove his innocence, but also to get even with Clark, whom he describes more than once as a ``moron.'' Though the plot is somewhat garbled, Hall arranges wonderful surprises at the end. He is smoothly proficient in creating memorable characters and witty dialogue, particularly in following Hastings' less-than-crafty efforts at serious detecting. In all, a top-notch effort, sure to win Hall plaudits and fans. (July)