Stanley Hastings Mystery Books

Crime thriller mystery series featuring the ever-funny and charming Stanley Hastings. The only detective in New York City who doesn’t carry a gun.

A Fool for a Client - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


A sensational murder trial! A young woman found naked and stabbed to death in her apartment! The woman was the girlfriend of his boss, Richard Rosenberg, and the hotshot lawyer is charged with killing her.

In desperation, Richard resorts to a series of courtroom tactics so outrageous they would make Perry Mason blush. Before the case is over, everyone in the courtroom will be convinced that not only does Richard Rosenberg have a fool for a client, but the client has a fool for a lawyer.

A Fool for a Client is one of Hall’s best … Hall handles comic dialogue as well as any in crime fiction, and while Stanley gets the brunt of most of it, he usually manages to solve the crime before anyone else.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Safari - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 19: SAFARI

Stanley Hastings on safari? I don’t think so. Neither did Stanley, until Alice’s small inheritance coupled with scrimping on a few luxuries like food and rent allowed them to book a group trip to Zambia. Now the New York PI is hiking with leopards, canoeing with hippos, and having close encounters with elephants and giraffes. When a killer strikes, it’s up to Stanley to crack the case… If he can just avoid being eaten by a lion.

New York Times

“An endearing hero… a forever-fresh series.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Hilarious…Another funny, brisk entry in the long-running series.”

“Edgar-finalist Hall’s rollicking 19th Stanley Hastings mystery … [his] smooth style, ready sense of humor and unusual take on murders in an untamed yet confined setting provide an enjoyable outing for armchair travelers.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hilarious… Another funny, brisk entry in the long-running series.”

STAKEOUT - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


Stanley’s in trouble!

For once the ambulance chasing PI’s got real private eye work, staking out a motel to catch his client’s cheating husband. Only the husband isn’t cheating, he’s been shot dead, and the police show up just in time to catch Stanley with the body. To beat a murder rap Stanley will have to resort to jumping bail, impersonating a police officer, and appropriating a murder weapon from a sassy Jersey Girl who keeps trying to distract him by ripping her clothes off.

“Hall’s always amusing wordplay complements Hastings’s Clouseau-like investigative techniques.”
Publishers Weekly

“Stanley, who seems to have more in common with Barney Fife than Sam Spade, is actually a pretty fair detective, and, more important, his narration is witty, self-deprecating, and observant. The plot is logical in a convoluted sort of way, and the resolution is satisfying. Stakeout continues the Hastings tradition of murder with a wink and a smile.”

“The whole novel is told through dialogue–not so easy a trick. The writers who are really excellent at this make it look simple–Robert B Parker and Steve Hamilton spring to mind. Hall shares that gift… As Stanley lurches and jolts toward a final ‘aha’ moment in a crowded courtroom, you’ll be rooting for him to come out, more or less, on top.”
Mystery Scene

CAPER - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 17: CAPER

After working for a Hitman, Stanley needed a break, so the sexy young mother who wanted to find out why her teenage daughter was skipping school seemed like just what the doctor ordered. Piece of cake, right? I’ll give you a hint: The book’s called Caper.

“Stanley is amusing as a lovable goof-sleuth, but the real fun lies in watching him try to talk himself out of a jam, whether it’s in convoluted arguments with his wife… or debates with his friend Sergeant MacAullif, who shreds his points of logic the way a dog demolishes a slipper.”
New York Times Book Review

“The latest Hastings mystery is typical of the series: charming, funny, and cleverly plotted. Stanley is the living embodiment of the old Rodney Dangerfield punch line: ‘I don’t get no respect.’ His boss thinks he’s a goof, his wife disregards him, and his NYPD connection addresses him as ‘moron.’ Readers just root for him. Engaging reading.”

HITMAN - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 16: HITMAN

Stanley Hastings working for a hitman? I don’t think so. Stanley didn’t either, until the gentleman gave him a good reason. Now it’s up to Stanley to keep the killer alive. Or at least find out who killed him.

Hitman is the kind of pithy, clever, modestly erudite mystery that was once a genre staple. It’s nice to know somebody still has the knack.”
New York Times

“What Mr. Hall does to the private eye formula is very funny, but it is not frivolous. His puzzles, for all their manic nonsense, are fiendish constructions of sound logic.”
New York Times

“Like Agatha Christie… Hall knows how to plant clues and red herrings. Only he’s a lot funnier.”
Denver Post & Rocky Mountain News

“First-class fun from start to finish.”

MANSLAUGHTER - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


Stanley takes on the case of Joe Balfour–who did time for killing a man in a barroom brawl and is now being blackmailed–and winds up 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.

“Trying to follow the logic of a Stanley Hastings mystery is like trying to make sense of a Marx Brothers routine… The convolutions of the plot are tricky fun, but the greater challenge is picking at the mental knots that Stanley twists himself into.”
New York Times Book Review

“A dazzlingly complex and laugh-out-loud funny narrative.”
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“Both funny and genuinely mysterious, a real treat.”

“Just what the doctor ordered.”
Publishers Weekly

COZY - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 14: COZY

Stanley and Alice Hastings vacation at a New England bed-and-breakfast. The book is full of recipes and the cat solves the crime.

“…a whimsical parody… Applying his peculiar brand of twisted logic to the case, Stanley has some droll exchanges with a literal-minded cop and catches the killer with a trick worthy of Miss Marple.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“The rousing return of Stanley Hastings … like many a Christie mystery—or like Lawrence Block’s Burglar in the Library (1997), in which another New Yorker, Bernie Rhodenbarr, solves a murder in a New England B & B—this one is so clever and so much fun that whodunit takes a backseat to the delicious style with which the tale is told.”

“Ingenious plotting and a hefty dose of humor. The B&B chef’s yummy recipes are also a plus.”
Publishers Weekly

SUSPENSE - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


Stanley Hastings, bodyguard? Come on, he doesn’t even carry a gun. But a best-selling suspense writer’s wife who is getting threatening phone calls hires Stanley to make them stop. Bad move. The fact the calls continue is the least of her worries.

“Hall’s deadpan style of satire makes mincemeat out of the pretentious author and his entourage of cynical agents, editors, and publicists, each of whom keeps telling Stanley (in hilariously abusive dialogue) what a lousy novel his case would make. Rising above their contempt, the sad-sack detective plods along after his clients, dodging razors and bombs, and picking up enough hot dish on the publishing trade to write a very funny book of his own.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“First-class fun from start to finish.”

“When it comes to humor, Parnell Hall continues to help set the standard.”
San Jose Mercury News

“Amusing, tongue in cheek… The milieu with all its vagaries proves a ready target for Hall’s well-aimed barbs as he… offers a delightfully accurate account of a bookstore signing… Hall proves as adept at creating on-page suspense as he is at lampooning it.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hall tells a good tale, creates a cast of colorful, slightly eccentric characters, and gives them some of the best dialogue in the genre.”
Kirkus Review

“Hall has a slyly delightful time skewering the publishing field and best sellers …Hall probably had as much fun injecting little mystery ‘traditions’ as the reader will have discovering them.”
— Oline H. Cogdill, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

SCAM - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 12: SCAM

Stanley Hastings’ client is lying to him, but that’s a mere annoyance. The crooked cop framing him for three murders is a problem.

“What Mr. Hall does to the private-eye formula is very funny, but it is not frivolous. His puzzles, for all their manic nonsense, are fiendish constructions of sound logic.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“As usual, Hall, like Rumplestiltskin, takes slender material that would serve another writer for a middling short story and spins a gossamer web of riddles by turns puzzling, suspenseful, and hilarious.
Kirkus Review

“Hall weaves a tale worth of a Golden Age writer, with as many puzzles in one book as one is likely to find in four or five modern mysteries.”
Deadly Pleasures

“Fiendishly funny …Smart dialogue, clever plotting, and a perfectly executed reverse scam by Hastings result in sparkling entertainment.”
Publishers Weekly

TRIAL - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 11: TRIAL

When negligence lawyer Richard Rosenberg defends a man on trial for murder, he hires Stanley Hastings to investigate. The reluctant PI takes the stand, and nearly gets found in contempt of court.

“Hilarious…Mr. Hall delights in applying the classic style of high comedy to base genre material, so he can get away with the wordplay, or any other game that takes his fancy.”
– Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Hall develops his usual complex plot and dialogue-driven narrative, highly recommended to fans of writers like Gregory McDonald, Ed McBain, and (of course) Erle Stanley Gardner.”
– Jon L. Breen, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“Hall is a born yarn spinner. Erle Stanley Gardner would be proud. And maybe just a tad envious.”
– Dick Lochte, LA Times

“Reminiscent of Agatha Christie in her more ingenious mode.”
-Elaine Budd, Hartford Courant

MOVIE - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 10: MOVIE

The good news is, Stanley Hastings got a screenplay produced. The bad news is, it’s a karate movie with four hot babes, a nerdy twerp superstar is rewriting the script, and someone is bumping off the movie crew.

“Mr. Hall scores some good laughs with his sendups of obsessive movie folk and their narcissistic ways.”
– Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“A good time…as a bonus, you’ll learn about filmmaking, and why to run the other way if you think it’s going to happen to your screenplay.”
Kirkus Review

“In Movie, Parnell skewers the denizens of filmland with undisguised relish.”
– Edward Gilbreth, Chicago Sun Times

“The expected humor, character drawing, and fair-play plotting are all in place.”
– Jon L. Breen, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

BLACKMAIL - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


Complications arise when Stanley Hastings handles a blackmail payment involving pornographic pictures. Not only does he fail to stop the blackmailer, but everyone he talks to dies.

“Every page quivers with comic frustration and the result is an absolute joy.”
Kirkus Review (starred)

“Parnell Hall succeeds in making Stanley Hastings one of a kind…Blackmail is pleasantly reminiscent of an earlier era, when detectives like Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin brought some humor to their chores.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Here is that rare and highly readable type of novel, the one told mostly in dialogue–and very good dialogue it is, too…Blackmail is a fun page-turner.”
The Denver Post

“Stanley’s cases also have going for them some of the deftest and trickiest puzzle-plotting in the field today.”
– Jon L. Breen, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

“Blackmail is a thoroughly enjoyable farce, which is similar to some of Donald E. Westlakes’s comic crime novels.”
News Journal

“[Blackmail] offers an intelligent, unusual spin on the tough-guy detective, and the dialogue is the best this side of George V. Higgins.”

“His wife, Alice… serves often as his conscience and his witty helpmate. Their scenes have the spontaneity and wicked honesty of a Nick and Nora Charles.”
Raleigh News & Observer

ACTOR - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 8: ACTOR

What’s this? Reluctant PI Stanley Hastings playing the lead in George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man on two days’ notice? What could possibly go wrong? Well, a backstage murder during dress rehearsal for starters.

“A real romp. Hilarious. Wins our vote for Best Performance by an Actor on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”
– Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“If you enjoy the backstage backgrounds of writers like Ngaio Marsh and Simon Brett, and if the prospect of an unashamedly old-fashioned whodunit with no apparent concern beyond reader pleasure is attractive, this is your book.”
– Jon. L. Breen, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

“Easily one of the best backstage murder mysteries I have read.”
Mystery Review

“The standing ovation is well deserved.”
Publishers Weekly

SHOT - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 7: SHOT

Stanley Hastings tries to prove his client didn’t kill her lover, and gets shot for his trouble. He also gets fired, summoned before the grand jury, and embroiled in such a legal mess that his boss, negligence lawyer Richard Rosenberg, will have to cut a deal to save him.

“An endearing hero … unorthodox mysteries … forever-fresh series. Stanley … plays a game of basketball that is pure poetry.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Another fine mess… another laugh-filled plot.”
— Phil Thomas, Associated Press

“You’ll become addicted to Stanley Hastings.”
Mystery News

“Before the twisting plot leads to two climaxes (one farcical) we get vivid looks at Manhattan’s seamier side, pointers on one-on-one basketball, and a sweet victory for a 10-year-old Harlem boy.”
Publishers Weekly

JUROR - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 6: JUROR

Shanghaied into jury duty and placed on a hopelessly boring civil case, Stanley Hastings swings into action when a juror is murdered, and engineers a most unusual courtroom climax. An amusing inside look at the jury selection system and a must for any prospective juror.

“This unlikely private detective operates in an exquisitely refined state of paranoia … he manages to effect a pretty astonishing resolution to the mystery … (the case) turns out to have a surprising kick at the end.”
— Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Terrific… You’re never, never, never, ever gonna guess whodunit!”
San Diego Tribune

“A great book… hilarious… you’ll become addicted to Stanley Hastings.”
Mystery News

“The last scene of the tale’s approximately forty in-court pages embodies a terrific stunt payoff, and, all in all, this is a hugely enjoyable novel.”
— Jon L. Breen, “Novel Verdicts,” The Armchair Detective

CLIENT - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 5: CLIENT

Stanley takes on his first paying client, and winds up framed for murder. Not getting paid is just the icing on the cake.

“Mr. Hall slyly wins our respect for Stanley’s intelligence and perseverance–qualities that give him the edge over his bolder and brawnier competition. And the last laugh, too.”
– Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Hall deftly mixes mirth and murder with a dash of wry philosphy, and his series hero… is a never-failing delight.”
The San Diego Union

“Good writing and plenty of laughs make Client a winner.”
– Phil Thomas, AP Books Editor

“The plots are interesting, thelocales authentic, the dialogue witty, and the characters real. These are exceptionally good mysteries. Don’t miss them!”
Mystery News

“Hall serves up another highly readable mystery starring one of the most unusual private eyes ever to take a case.”

STRANGLER - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


Stanley Hastings is having a problem signing up prospective clients for negligence attorney Richard Rosenberg: Someone is strangling them before he can get there.

“Entertaining… the charm of Stanley Hastings lies in his chummy, loquacious, self-deprecating commentary.”
Washington Post Book World

“Great fun.”

“Wonderful, top-notch… memorable characters and witty dialogue… sure to win plaudits and fans.”
Publishers Weekly

FAVOR - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 3: FAVOR

Stanley Hastings goes to Atlantic City to keep tabs on Sergeant MacAullif’s wayward son-in-law, a favor that gets him arraigned for grand larceny and held on suspicion of murder.

“Neat Jolts of action, comically downbeat narration… and wisecrack dialogue.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Hilarious… pure entertainment.”
Publishers Weekly

“A very funny, very smart mystery series.”

“Hastings is a fresh twist on an old idea and is sure to be around for a long time to come.”
Rave Reviews

“…a light-hearted romp, drolly told, and made pleasant by its deprecating, much put-upon and wholly charming hero.”
The San Diego Union

“The primary pleasure in Favor–and it’s a big one–is in Hall’s entertaining telling of the story.”
The Drood Review of Mystery

“Hall creates a lovable and real hero that anyone can identify with…Favor is a light novel that is perfect to unwind with.”
South Bend Tribune

MURDER - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall

Book 2: MURDER

Stanley comes to the aid of a soccer mom who’s been tricked into working for an escort service, and finds himself engulfed in a world of prostitution, pornography, blackmail, and murder.

“Hair-raising and hilarious.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hall’s swift, spare prose captures the grit of Manhattan… He has also created a thoroughly credible character in the irrepressible Hastings.”
– Jeremy Shea, St. Louis Post Dispatch

“This thoroughly inventive novel heralds the very welcome return of Stanley Hastings…who alternates his inspired blundering with rare moments of ruthless cunning.”

“Loaded with warmth, wit and plot, MURDER is a gem of a novel — 4+ stars”
Rave Reviews

DETECTIVE - a Stanley Hastings Mystery - by Parnell Hall


Stanley Hastings, the world’s most unlikely private eye, a struggling actor/writer trying to support his wife and kid in New York City, who chases ambulances for a negligence lawyer and carries a camera instead of a gun and photographs accident victims and the cracks in the sidewalk that tripped them, tackles his first real case, tracking down the murderers of a client he could not save because he wasn’t a real detective.

1988 Edgar Award Best First Mystery Nominee
1988 Shamus Award Best First Mystery Nominee

“Highly entertaining… this is zesty, shrewdly paced caper-comedy—reminiscent of the best of (among others) Lawrence Block and Joe Gores.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A winner… Suspense and humor!”
Philadelphia Daily News

“A gritty, entertaining mystery!”
Publishers Weekly

“A terrific page-turner of classic detection.”
Drood Review

Clicker Training - A Stanley Hastings Short Story by Parnell Hall

Clicker Training (Short Story)

A Stanley Hastings short story, originally published in Canine Christmas: When Santa leaves a dead body under the tree at the Vermont country inn where Stanley and Alice are staying, the local police are stumped. Can Stanley solve the crime, or will their Portuguese water dog Zelda have to do it?

Death of a Vampire – A Stanley Hastings Mystery Short Story by Parnell Hall

Death of a Vampire (Short Story)

Stanley Hastings couldn’t believe it. The girl wanted him to follow a vampire! It had to be a joke. To Stanley’s surprise, it turned out to be deadly serious.

“…vampires are well represented among the 20 selections, most notably Parnell Hall’s darkly humorous Death of a Vampire…”
Publishers Weekly