Having survived a murderously uncomfortable New England holiday in the much-praised Cozy, private eye Stanley Hastings returns to more familiar New York urban turf with his twisted logic and droll style effectually intact. With Joe Balfoura client who did time 25 years ago for killing a man in a barroom brawlStanley embarks on an ingeniously plotted and frequently hilarious excursion that will confront him continually with embarrassments: like the arrest of his client for the murder of a notorious blackmailer whos been found in his Upper East Side apartment with a carving knife in his back. And before he cracks the case, Stanley will be breaking and entering, contaminating crime scenes, concealing evidence (or else planting it), framing two innocent men for two different homicides, aiding an extortionist, hanging out in a topless bar, blackmailing a few attorneys, and outwitting the cops. This is the fifteenth novel in the long-running mystery series that the New York Times finds "very funny" in its "manic nonsense" and "fiendish constructions of sound logic."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: Dumb P.I. Solves Convoluted Case, May 25, 2003 Reviewer: lvkleydorff from CT. USA By his own admission, Stanley Hastings is a dumb private investigator. So he is an ambulance chaser for Richard Rosenberg, negligence lawyer. But then Stanley hits it lucky. He is hired by Joe Balfour to stop a blackmailer. From that point on things begin to go drastically wrong. A few days later the blackmailer, named Philip T. Grackle, is found killed. Enters Joe's daughter Jennifer who also pays blackmail. And so does Joe's wife. We have a ring-around-the-rosy,with every member of the Balfour family protecting the other by paying Grackle.First, Stanley has to find out why there is blackmail. The reason for it changes every few pages, presenting rather outrageous guesswork. Father and son Millsap, legal eagles, are added, to spin the case some more. Luckily, Stanley has the help of his wife Alice and of Sergeant MacAullif and so solves the case. But while the book is quite funny, the ending is rather outrageous. Mr. Hall should be forgiven because he entertained us.