FAVOR by Parnell Hall


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Would-be writer and seedy accident-investigator Stanley Hastings (Detective, Murder) can't say no when his sour NYPD chum MacAullif asks for a favor. Especially since it's a family matter: MacAullif's beloved daughter Barbara is married to a bum down in Atlantic City, and said bum (stockbroker Harold Dunleavy) has been acting strangely lately. What's going on? MacAullif is desperate to know, but can't ask, and wants Stanley to sleuth around--discreetly. Off goes Stanley, then, very reluctantly, to A.C.--where he soon learns two things: Harold is a philandering gambler, probably in over his head; and Barbara (also unfaithful) is being trailed by a local shamus. But things get much more complicated when the local shamus and a local hood are both murdered. Because of his snooping, and because he's determined to protect Barbara and Harold (out of loyalty to MacAullif), Stanley himself become suspect #1. And, to save his own neck, he has to expose the real motives (blackmail; a casino cover-up) and entrap the sleazy villains. . . while also saving the Barbara/Harold marriage. As in Murder, Stanley's impromptu derring-do is a bit implausible; so is his nearsuicidal nobility. But the hapless amateux-sleuth remains fairly good company--with neat jolts of action, comically downbeat narration (with some four-letter tedium), and wisecrack dialogue that features a few dandy non sequiturs. (""You ever used to watch the Monkees?. . .It used to bother me that they didn't play their own instruments, but in retrospect they're great."")

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1988
Publisher: Donald Fine