Slip-and-fall specialist Stanley Hastings has had cases that take him out past his depth before (You Have the Right to Remain Puzzled, 2006, etc.), but never quite as fast as his first meeting with a client who identifies himself as a hit man.
Nobody wants a contract killer as a client. So when high-school English teacher Martin Kessler tells Stanley Hastings that he moonlights as a contract killer, Stanley insists on turning their consultation into a torrent of hypotheticals and stonewalls until Kessler tells him that he’s been offered a commission he doesn’t want to carry out and asks Stanley to follow him and make sure he doesn’t kill the unidentified target. Though he bridles at the ethical dilemma, Stanley, never the smartest shamus, takes the case. His decision finds him (1) following a man who’s following another man; (2) sketching out scenarios to his long-suffering wife involving multiple hit men; (3) being on or near the scene of several shootings; and (4) lying to the police when he’s called into the morgue to identify the body of his client, who (surprise!) isn’t who he said.
Unlike most of Stanley’s cases, which start with a great idea and then gradually run out of steam, this one begins with an idiotic premise and then gradually works its way through an endless filigree of Q-and-A to a surprisingly logical solution.