JUROR by Parnell Hall


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Low-grade private eye Stanley Hastings is back for his sixth case, investigating the murder of a good-looking, low-grade actress serving with him on jury duty. Hall's especially good at developing nagging fears about all the little things that can go wrong for an unwilling juror like Stanley--getting impaneled on a really boring case when his two weeks are almost up, having his car ticketed because he can't get out to feed the meter, missing the roll call because he's late after squeezing in one of the injury cases he's signing up for lawyer Richard Rosenberg, or waiting at curbside for fellow-juror Sherry Fontaine, who's wangled a ride with him. This kind of pleasant, slow-moving foreplay takes up nearly half the book, but it's the better half, because after Stanley goes into Sherry's place when she's late one morning and Finds her dead, the resulting investigation--which he takes on at the nagging of his wife Alice and his surly pal Sgt. MacAullif because blockheaded Sgt. Thurman's leaning on him as the main suspect--is pro forma. Half-heartedly masquerading as a cop, shambling Stanley makes the rounds of other forgettable suspects--Sherry's weepy former boyfriend Dexter Manyon; her bullying/cowardly coke dealer Luke Brent; her director Waiter Shelby and his new love interest, Sherry's understudy Miranda Vale--but without much conviction, and it's a nice surprise when he reaches back to Sherry's jury experience for an unexpectedly neat solution. No new laurels for Stanley this time--his wit is mostly whine. But anybody who's been shanghaied into jury duty will find some quiet laughs here, and some sympathetic indigestion.

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 1990
ISBN: 1936441152
Publisher: Donald Fine