cover image A Fool for a Client

A Fool for a Client

Parnell Hall. Pegasus Crime (Norton, dist.), $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-60598-883-2

In Edgar-finalist Hall’s frenetic 20th mystery featuring New York City PI Stanley Hastings (after 2014’s Safari), Stanley’s boss, leading negligence attorney Richard Rosenberg, decides to defend himself after being charged with his girlfriend’s murder. It’s up to Stanley to uncover the evidence that will clear Richard. The rapid-fire banter between the pair may owe a lot to the Warner Bros. flicks of the ’30s (when Stanley asks Richard if he’s in trouble, Richard answers, “No, I fell going into my office and I’m suing myself for negligence”). In fact, most characters converse as if auditioning for a remake of His Girl Friday. Stanley’s investigation pauses periodically for deconstruction by his acerbic wife, Alice. Nora Charles, she isn’t. Once Hall moves into the courtroom for the trial, pleasures can be found in Richard’s swashbuckling style and canny, if farfetched, legal maneuvers. But here, too, Hall employs too many arch exchanges. This overreliance on sarcastic dialogue may leave the reader ready to sue for less zip and more substance. (Oct.)