Blackmail (A Stanley Hastings mystery novel)

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9780446403658: Blackmail (A Stanley Hastings mystery novel)
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Against his better judgement, private detective Stanley Hastings agreed to act as a go-between, between Marlena and whoever was blackmailing her. But what started out as simple extortion was turning into a case of multiple murders and mysterious motives.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

It's a mystery how Stanley Hastings gets the chance to chase those ambulances: he's constantly spending his time talking himself out of murder raps. Here, Stanley starts off by compounding a felony in taking Marlena Smith's $500 for paying off a blackmailer who's peddling pornographic photos she doesn't even bother to look at (maybe because she wasn't one of the subjects?), then repeats the offense, this time for $1,000, when she asks him to get the negatives. At the rendezvous, Stanley finds a dead body--but instead of being Barry the blackmailer, it's Marlena. (Barry, who turns out to be sporadically employed actor Cliff McFadgen, isn't killed until an hour or so later- -and, yes, Stanley stumbles on his body too.) After Stanley spends a night in the drunk tank when he can't reach his boss, negligence lawyer Richard Rosenberg; withholds evidence about the people in the photos from the police; and insists on running his own, utterly hopeless investigation instead--is it any wonder his nemesis, Sgt. Thurman, battens on Stanley? Stanley's sad-sack adventures (Actor, 1993, etc.) usually start with a terrific idea and then gradually peter out. Not this time. Every page quivers with comic frustration, and the result is an absolute joy. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The eight previous titles in Hall's entertaining series about the low-rent sleuthing shenanigans of New York actor/PI Stanley Hastings have steadily broadened Hall's readership. The latest, while no disappointment, isn't likely to propel Hall into the crime fiction big leagues. Seen last treading the boards gingerly in Actor , and before that as a PI chasing cases for liability lawyer Richard Rosenberg, here Hastings is hired on his own. A pretty woman wants him to retrieve some photos with which she is being blackmailed by someone named Barry. Stanley gets the prints, which are high-quality porno shots that don't feature the woman. Before he gets a chance to ask her why she doesn't want the negatives, he finds her dead body. When he finds another, two cops, one smart and one dumb, get on his case. Both victims were actors working a weird sting that makes little sense to anyone; even Hastings's deductions and the smart cop's explanation will challenge the clever reader. Although the characterization here is sharp, the pace brisk and the dialogue snappy, the ornate complexities of the plot detract from the overall impact.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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