Suspense by Parnell Hall

Mysterious (first), 1998

Hall’s satiric plot centers around bestselling author Kenneth P Winnington. Winnington and his trophy wife hire Stanley for protection following threatening phone calls. And everywhere that Stanley goes, the lam is sure to follow because every suspect our hero interviews dies shortly thereafter. One succumbs with Stanley’s name clutched in his hand minutes after he leaves his office, putting Stanley on the run from both the bad guy and the police. Clues are sparse but they all point to Stanley. Worse,  several characters refer to our hero’s version of what’s going on with the same refrain, “What a weak plot.” If there is a flaw in this novel, that’s it. Is this novel going to wind up in the suspense or mystery format? Hall comes back to this point many times and eventually resolves the quandary. And there’s the rub. Some readers will buy it and others will put it on their credit card, avoiding payment for now. But nobody can avoid appreciating that lovable mutt of a man Stanley Hastings. Stanley seems always on the defensive, always apologizing for his foibles: experiencing smug pleasure by winning the tiniest of hassles; covering up clumsily when he says something stupid; pretending he doesn’t notice when he obviously loses a verbal battle or comes up short in the war of the quips… Kinda like some people we know, kinda like you, kinda like me: a composite of all the petty jealousies and all the tiny, teeming tragedies of the human heart. (Jim D. Combs)

Originally published in Issue # 152 – January/February 1998

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