Sunday, October 11, 2015

Parnell Hall: A Fool for a Client (Stanley Hastings Mystery #20)

"Tell me about the girl with tits."
"How'd you know about the girl with tits?"
"There's always a girl with tits. She may not have anything to do with the case, but you manage to make her important."
Stanley Hasting's boss, Richard Rosenberg, is in big trouble. Richard's girlfriend, a law clerk, has been murdered and the negligence lawyer is the prime suspect. Richard is the fool because he's decided to represent himself. Why? Because he doesn't trust lawyers: they're sleazy pond scum, and he's proof of that. He wants Stanley's assistance, but it's going to be hard: he was the last person seen with the victim, DNA proves he had sex with her, and his fingerprints are on the murder weapon.

The victim, Jeannie Atkins, was assigned to a global banking trial, which seems unconnected to anything that would have led to murder. She clerked for the judge, and usually judges take a dim view to their assistants being killed. Stanley hopes to find a connection, though, and becomes a regular spectator at the banking trial, which is just as exciting as you think it would be: not at all.

Our hero perseveres through the boredom, though, talking to jurors, alternates, a clerk with romantic ideas of what detectives do, and the long-suffering judge for the trial. He also finds "the girl with tits," Juror Number Twelve. Stanley discovers that she was an alternate promoted after someone else was excused. He procures the address of the excused man and pays a visit - to a dead body.

I've often wanted to see Richard Rosenberg at work, and this book doesn't disappoint. Most of the cases he takes involve trip-and-fall or accidents on city property. Half the people at court are scared of him, and we learn why. He turns down the probable cause hearing and goes straight to trial. He accepts all candidates for the jury without questioning them. He insults the expert witness. He insinuates that no one is telling the truth about when he left the victim's apartment because the security guard slunk off early and his limo driver was padding the time for higher pay. He makes Denny Crane look like a paragon of discretion.

None of this is going to matter, though, because the evidence is against Richard. He was the last person seen with the victim, his bodily fluids were present at the scene, and his fingerprints are on the murder weapon. He has no clue who the murderer is. Stanley's occasional ally, Sergeant MacAuliff, is of the opinion that Richard will only escape jail if he can 'pull an O.J.' and create reasonable doubt.

Will Rosenberg dream up a great strategy, or will he go to prison? Will Stanley find the real killer after all, or go to jail after giving grief to the judge in the banking case one too many times? Read A Fool for a Client to learn the answer to these and other relevant questions, including how often a detective's wife has to explain to her husband what the information he's discovered implies for the case.

I greatly enjoyed the book, but you may need to keep a scorecard for some of the conversations. The repartee zips back and forth very rapidly with few conversation tags. It's still very funny. I was also pleased to see Alice (Stanley's wife) again, who creates order out of her husband's eccentric observations.

Disclosure: I was given an ARC of this book to read and review. You can also see this review at .

No comments: