cover image Client


Parnell Hall. Dutton Books, $18.95 (292pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-169-3

In his fifth adventure ( Detective ; Murder ; etc.) New York private eye Stanley Hastings is still working for a sleazy lawyer, who generally sends him out to take depositions from ``victims'' in accident cases. Then Stanley finally gets a real client: Marvin Nickleson isn't likable, and tailing his estranged wife Monica isn't at all appealing, but Stanley--a would-be action-writer with a wife, a small child and a big dental bill--needs the money. Surveillance is uneventful until Monica drives out of town and checks into a motel near Poughkeepsie. The next morning, she's dead--though she isn't really Monica, the real Marvin isn't Stanley's client and Stanley is the chief murder suspect. The only clues are the first three letters of a license plate and a man in a checked cap, which eventually lead the detective to a land-zoning bribery scam. The ending is a bit pallid, and Stanley talks too much, but he's an appealing character nonetheless. (May)