Sunday, March 3, 2013

Detective: Parnell Hall

This is an easy review to write. I liked this book from beginning to end. And the more I find out about the author, the more I like him.

Stanley Hastings is a private detective, but really he has never done any detecting. Nor does he have any confidence in his ability to do so. What he does is pursue leads for an ambulance chaser lawyer.

So, when he is offered a real job, by a guy in trouble with drug dealers, he turns him down. And then, he inevitably gets involved in the case.

This is the second private detective novel I have read in a row, and both had humorous elements. This one is definitely intended to be funny.  I enjoyed Detective more for the story and Stanley's character. It is told in first person, which I like. Stanley has a lot of good luck, but he also has a lot more skill than he realizes.

Based on the bio at Mystery Writers of America, Parnell Hall is a versatile and interesting person. In addition to writing books and screenplays, he is an actor, and he has been a private detective.

At Mystery Fanfare, there is a video he put together which is very entertaining.

I would never had read this book if my husband had not discovered the series. Parnell Hall also writes the Puzzle Lady series, and my assumption was that I was not going to like anything he wrote. There, I have revealed my biases. I avoid cozy mystery series with a theme. This has caused me to miss good series (well, at least one) in the past and I should know better, but that bias is still there. (So if anyone has some suggestions for good, well-written cozy series with a theme that I may have mistakenly missed out on, please let me know.)

He discovered the book via the Kindle app, and that is a plus for buying an e-reader. I still am not really comfortable reading in e-format, but we sure have found a lot of new and old authors that way. He liked the book so much he bought a reasonably-priced hardcover edition, and also a hardcover of the second novel in the series, so you can see the Kindle is not keeping us from buying books.

Would I recommend this book?
Yes, with caveats. If you like light, humorous books and you don't mind strong language and somewhat graphic violence. There is not a lot of violence taking place on the page, but some of the crimes are unappealing. We are dealing with particularly vicious drug dealers here.

Will I read more of this series? Again, yes, with caveats. From reviews and descriptions of the books that I have read, I get the impression that Stanley doesn't change much over the series. I generally prefer growth and / or change in a series. I will definitely pursue this series, but if there is a lot of sameness to each story, I will put some time between each one. Which is fine, I have a lot of books to read.


COTP said...


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Nathan Donahoe
Author Coordinator, Mark Rubinstein

J F Norris said...

I bought a 1st edition of this book a while ago and had Parnell Hall sign it at last year's Bouchercon mystery convention. I have yet to read it. Hall is one of the most genuine and wryly funny people I've met at those conventions. When I heard him describe how the Puzzle Lady came into being and what she is about I though it was a clever idea. I vowed if I ever came across one for cheap I'd buy it and read it. I happened to find the very first Puzzle Lady book only a few months ago. I'll be getting to that soon. I'm not big on the "New cozies" (recipes in the back of the book type) so I can't recommend any to you. I read some of Sheila Connelly's which have an apple orchard as the theme, but they didn't wow me.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Another new author for my TBR pile, though like John I also usually stay away from modern cozy writers normally. But this sounds like great fun, and i always make time for that - thanks TracyK.

Anonymous said...

Tracy - Oh, this does sound like a good 'un. Ordinarily I don't reach quickly for a book with a whole lot of violence in it unless there's something that balances it if I can put it that way. But this one does sound tempting. Thanks.

TracyK said...

How lucky you are to have attended Bouchercon and met Parnell Hall. The more I read about the Puzzle Lady, the more I think I might try that series. I can see that it could have an edge to it.

TracyK said...

Reading this book was fun, although I often miss the humor. I take things too seriously. Finding time to read all the good authors is hard, though.

TracyK said...

It is not so much that there is a lot of violence. Just that some of it is yucky, gross. Did not want to leave that out if it would bother some.

carol said...

Sounds like a series I might enjoy. I do like a little humor mixed in with my mysteries. And I know what you mean about avoiding cozies with a theme. I do read them, but some of the titles make me cringe.

TracyK said...

I think you might like them. They are similar to the Toby Peter's series by Stuart Kaminsky.

Katrina said...

I was surprised to see that Fife libraries have some of his books, so I'll certainly give him a go - at some point in the future.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

A private detective who is really not a detective but manages to get involved in a dangerous case... I think we have been seeing a transformational change in the private eye over the last two to three decades.

Sarah said...

I often have to put a space between books by the same author. I don't have a problem with that - it means you have something to look forward to. I'm not sure the mixture of graphic violence and humorous prose is quite for me, but I enjoyed your review!

TracyK said...

It is great that you have access to some of the books. I know what you mean about "some point in the future".

TracyK said...

He definitely is a hybrid, Prashant. I look forward to seeing how he handles cases in the future.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Sarah. Glad you enjoyed it. Like it or not, I often put a lot of space between books by the same author. Makes for variety but sometimes I forget what was going on in the series. And sometimes it works well, sometimes not.