Created by Parnell Hall
"Not to disparage the work I do, but most of it requires no intelligence whatsoever.''
- Stanley Hastings to would-be client in Suspense.
...and now, for your consideration, your entertainment and your amusement, may we present... STANLEY HASTINGS, a PI as tough as his name! Our man Stan's a hopelessly inept, slightly-cowardly, reluctant private-eye-in-name-only who works for an ambulance-chasing lawyer in New York City in a series of humourous novels by Parnell Hall. Picture your average joe thrust into the role of Philip Marlowe and you've got it.
Fortyish, suffering from middle-age blahs, bad teeth and a lousy job, Stanley is, in fact, a lucky man. He's loved by his wife, Alice, and their son, Tommie. A failed actor and a struggling freelance writer, theoretically Stanley's only working for Richard temporarily, until he writes the Great American Novel. But until he writes it, let's face it -- with a college degree in liberal arts, and no real job skills, Stanley might be getting accident victims to sign retainers and photographing cracks in the sidewalk for a long time.
And, oh yes, stumbling into, onto and through murder cases with alarming frequency. Cowardly, clumsy, and ever the klutz, with most of his detecting skills picked up from television and old movies, riding down those mean streets in the rusty but more-or-less trusty family Toyota, Stanley's never going to be mistaken for Mike Hammer, that's for sure.
Another fun touch is the deadpan spin on the old smart eye/dumb cop routine. In Stanley's case, he's usually pulled out of whatever jam he's in by his long-suffering police contact, Sergeant McAuliff. He can also occasionally rely on the assistance of Leroy, a professional thief and art connoisseur who's been known to lend Stanley a hand in gaining access to places he has no access to.
Author Parnell Hall was himself a part-time PI and admits to being a failed actor. He also claims to be the laziest writer around, basing Stanley on his own life experiences simply because using his imagination is just "too much work." And he plays a twelve-string. In fact, he's a born entertainer, making loud noises wherever he goes. His 147 verse (and counting) Bouchercon theme song became an annual event at mystery convention dinners for several years. Someone grab him! He's tuning up! And he has a great web page (or at least he did--see below).
The author's official site.
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