Hitman: A Stanley Hastings Mystery (Stanley Hastings Mysteries (Paperback)) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2009/2/24
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Private eye Stanley Hastings doesn't want for idiosyncrasies, as fans of this long-running "unconventional" and "very funny" (says the New York Times) mystery series know. For instance, he doesn't carry a gun. So he seems a particularly improbable choice, among all of New York City's private investigators, for the cold-eyed Martin Kessler.Not that Kessler requires firepower. He's got a gun of his own an automatic with a long, ugly silencer although he'd like to retire it. A contract killer who wants out of the game, Kessler hires Stanley mostly to watch his back in the event that someone of similar professional skills is shadowing him. Someone is, in fact, only Stanley fails to spot him and dead bodies are soon piling messily up. The hapless Stanley thus begins an odyssey around Manhattan in his attempt to uncover just what did go down, and why, during his client's last, decidedly dirty, job."
[...] It's good to see Stanley returning to the lists, even in such a humble offering.
Parnell Hall succeeds in making Stanley Hastings one of a kind...pleasantly reminiscent of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
Stanley Hastings is rather surprised when a hitman just shows up at his office, wanting help getting out of the business. But he's also not sure he wants to work for him. But a man's life is at stake and Stanley knows he has to take the case. He just doesn't realize how much trouble it's going to cause him. And getting involved is getting him into tons of trouble, both personally and also with the police. Going from a private investigator to a prime suspect was not in his plans. Of course, neither was getting shot at. But both things seem to happen quite a bit in this book.
I liked Stanley. He was a funny guy. Loves his wife, seems like a decent person, etc. He's a bit oblivious for a Private Investigator, and I'm not sure if the bumbling act was intentional or not. His wife Alice is an even better character. She seems to be the brains behind the operation and I enjoyed that. Although I wish she had a job of her own so she didn't have to rely on Stanley's exploits. The cops and lawyers in the book weren't as awesome as they could have been. In fact they all kind of seemed liked jerks. Of course we were seeing them through Stanley's eyes.
The plot is what disappointed me the most. For one, there was no way you could have seen the ending coming, and that just isn't quite fair when you are writing a crime mystery. Or at least a book that acts like a crime mystery. Everything skips around so much that its hard to keep track of where you are at in the book too. It seems like Stanley is always rushing around to this place or the other and sometimes with no rhyme or reason. I wish it would have slowed down a bit so I could have contemplated what was going on better. A lot of the story was implausible too, as I don't see real life people acting the way the characters did. But hey, at least the writing was funny, although a little course at sometimes. If you don't like cussing and references to sex and female anatomy you probably won't want to pick this book up. Because it has all of that.
I don't think I'd seek out another one of Hall's books, even in the same series. While I enjoyed his humorous writing style it just wasn't enough to make up for the sub par storyline.
Review by M. Reynard 2012
And surely when your even own characters are asking "What the Hell?", as an author you stop and think "Hmmm, maybe this plot is not such a good idea after all?"
But Parnell Hall clearly did not and pages 25 - 53 did not get much better, and neither did page 54 to the end of the novel.
Not that the writing style is bad, or the characters particularly poorly written, though Stanley's shift from "trip-and-fall" PI to the faster paced world of hitmen and your more typical PI seems a bit of a stretch, and his wife is painted with a whiff of misogyny that seemed more down-at-heel Philip Marlowe than white collar Stanley Hastings.
But really, this is pretty typical PI fare, skipping quickly from situation to situation, throwing in the expected world weary reflections on life, and with a body count that would see Law & Order's Jack McCoy put Stanley away for "Twenty to Life" in no time flat.
Sadly, I did not find Stanley Hastings "very funny" as the 'New York Times' apparently suggests that I should have. Instead, I found the idea off-center and the story not particularly engaging.
In Hitman, the plot is, as usual, rather zany. Stanley is asked by a local school teacher (he thinks), who happens to be a hitman (or shooter or shitter if you need to combine the terms), to watch his back as he wants to get out of the business. Stanley soon realizes that by following the man, he is preventing the man from following through on the hit, but it puts him in an awkward position that he and his friend Seargeant Macauliff, have to wiggle their way out of. The hitman gets killed and turns out not to be the teacher who turns out to be friends with another teacher with "perky breasts," who turns out to be..... Well, you'll find out.