Friday, September 12, 2014


Author:  Parnell Hall
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

Stanley Hastings on safari?  I don’t think so. Neither did Stanley, until Alice’s small inheritance—coupled with scrimping on a few luxuries like food and rent—allowed them to book a group trip to Zambia. Now the New York PI is hiking with lions, canoeing with hippos, and having close encounters with elephants and giraffes.
It’s a dangerous safari. The leader is a reckless, gung-ho, great white hunter who delights in leaping from the jeep with a hearty “Come on, gang, let’s see where this lion is going!” And a series of bizarre accidents quickly dwindles the group’s numbers. Why was the guide’s young spotter foolish enough to walk under a sausage fruit tree . . . just as one of the huge sausage fruits fell? How did the leaves of a poisonous plant wind up in a tourist’s salad? Are these really accidents?

A stabbing tips the scale. It’s murder, and the only policeman in a hundred miles is a park ranger (whose only murder case was that of an ivory poacher shot dead in plain sight).
It’s up to Stanley to crack the case . . . if he can just avoid being eaten by a lion.


Stanley Hastings and his wife Alice are heading for an African Safari.  It seems Alice came into an inheritance and this is what she wants to do with it, and Stanley, never wanting to argue with Alice when she sets her mind to something, just goes along.  Not that he's thrilled about it, but he's willing to go.

Stanley knows things aren't going to go well when he's approached at the airport by a young woman he calls "Lolita," if you get my drift.  Managing to hurry out of that situation, he doesn't know that this is the easiest thing he'll have to worry about on this trip.

Along for the trip are a young married couple; two women Stanley refers to as "Biker Chick #1 and #2; two men, Keith and Jason; an attorney also named Alice, whom he dubs Alice 2; and, of course, the randy Lolita and her "mother." 

Shortly after they begin their African trek, one of the local guides is found dead.  Although everyone is told the death was due to "sausage fruit," Stanley, PI extraordinaire, knows better.  He's seen enough crime scenes to know a murder, although even suggesting that it might have been is scoffed at by everyone.  Especially by the tour owner/guide, Clemson, who insists it was just an accident.  Even so, Stanley isn't sure.  While trying to make the best of the situation and also trying to keep his Alice happy, Stanley treks along on the safari attempting not to think about the man who was killed - until there's another death.  At this point Stanley knows his instincts were right even if no one else will believe him, so he keeps his ideas to himself, while doing a little investigating on his own.

Although he's trying to openly stay out of the investigation, he's somewhat being pushed into it by Alice (who insists she's not telling him anything but tells everyone proudly that he's a private investigator), he just wants to enjoy the rest of his vacation - until Clemson asks for his help in finding the killer.  Clemson is now convinced that it has to be one of the tourists, and wants Stanley to discreetly question them in the hopes someone will let their guard down.  Now officially involved, Stanley has to try and find a killer before he becomes the next victim.

This is a very funny book.  There were several points where I just started laughing outright.  Poor Stanley being cornered by a younger woman while his wife is nearby was just too funny for words.  His inner thoughts are better than anything that actually comes out of his mouth, and I found this not only delightful, but the mystery was very, very good.  A highly recommended read that I am sure others will enjoy.


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