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He's not very tough. He's just sharp enough to get by. And he spends most of his time chasing ambulances. But that doesn't mean that Stanley Hastings - Parnell Hall's acclaimed, self-deprecating actor detective - can't find himself face-to-face with a beautiful woman in distress. Distress, as in...BLACKMAIL. She called herself Marlena, and dazzled Hastings with her wide, innocent eyes. But her story was a little less charming. Someone was blackmailing her, she said, but would not say who or why. She simply insisted that Hastings play the part of go-between and deliver the cash. Face-to-face with the blackmailer, Hastings thought the man was overdoing things a bit. Then it got stranger. The photographs Hastings brought back to Marlena were pornographic enough, indeed, but Marlena wasn't in them. And to make matters more baffling, it was only upon his prompting that Marlena insisted Hastings go back again and pay another five thousand dollars for the negatives. It proved a fatal move. Before Hastings could complete the second payoff, two people were dead and the money was missing - vanished, it seemed, amidst the ranks of the good old NYPD. And when Hastings started asking questions about the money and the murders, it got more people killed and Hastings into a deeper hole with a heavy-handed cop named Thurman. Thurman would just as soon see Hastings take the fall for the crimes. Hastings would just as soon solve the case first, if the cops will only let him. Somewhere between a desperate blonde and a seedy underworld of desperate New Yorkers a not-very-tough private eye will have to dodge the cops, listen to his wife's advice, and manage to be just tough enough to untangle a mystery of betrayal and murder. For this is a case that, if all does not go well, might just be Stanley's last...
Used availability for Parnell Hall's Blackmail
March 1994 : USA Hardback
March 1995 : USA Mass Market Paperback
September 2010 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition