Stanley Hastings, the New York private detective, is back in the swing of things. But playing it safe and toning down his investigations doesn ' t work for him because he is a magnet for trouble. Stanley needs to help an apparently innocent housewife/call girl get out of a prostitution ring and retrieve a compromising video of her held by her pimp. Unfortunately, Stanley walks into the pimp ' s apartment while a slaughter is in progress. To make matters worse, Stanley himself is the number-one suspect.
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December 01, 2002
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Excerpt from Murder by Parnell Hall
I'm doing it again.
I swore I'd never do it again. I threw my beeper in the Hudson River. I unpacked my briefcase and stuck it in the hall closet. I sent my suit to the cleaners, got it back, and left it wrapped in plastic. And yet, here I am, doing it again. I'm back chasing ambulances for Richard Rosenberg for ten bucks an hour and thirty cents a mile.
You see, something happened.
What happened was, Tommie went to kindergarten.
If that doesn't make any sense, perhaps I should say, Tommie went to private school kindergarten.
Now I know I'm an old fogy, and times have changed and there's inflation and all that, but still, Tommie's kindergarten costs three times what it cost me to go to college.
It was harder to get into, too. First Tommie had to pass the ERB's. Last year, Tommie was evaluated by examiners who came around to his nursery school and administered aptitude tests. My wife and I sweated out the results for a month and a half before finding out that Tommie had scored above average in both English and math. At age four, for Christ's sake.
Then we applied to kindergarten. We applied to six since competition in New York City is fierce. Each application carried a nonrefundable fee of anywhere from twenty to thirty-five dollars. Each application form had long essay questions such as, "Describe your child's strengths and weaknesses, and explain why you feel he or she would be well-suited to function in our school environment." Despite the fact that the same paragraph, slightly altered, could fit all forms, needless to say, after the first few applications my wife and I were nervous wrecks.
The letters came in February. Tommie was accepted by two schools, rejected by one, and put on three waiting lists!
All of this affected Tommie not at all. Our relief was boundless.
The school we chose for Tommie was the East Side Day School, a primary school, kindergarten through 6th grade, with 250 students, in a converted apartment building on East 84th Street. Tuition was six thousand dollars a year.
It was my wife who decided that Tommie should go to private school. Her chief argument was that the public school classes were too large for a boy of his temperament. The public school had thirty-two kids in the kindergarten. The East Side Day School has twenty-two kids in the kindergarten. So I figure I'm paying ten kids six hundred bucks a piece not to be in Tommie's class.
Actually, my father-in-law, the renowned plastic bag manufacturer, is kicking in half the tuition, perhaps in the hope that someday Tommie will grow up and take over the family business. That helps tremendously, but it still leaves a three thousand dollar hole to fill.
In the months since quitting my job with Richard, I had done my best to make it as a writer. Despite my wife's presumed opinion (she never actually expresses it, but I am convinced it is what she thinks) that I am timid about meeting people, I actually got out and hustled. I got an interview with a director from a soap opera, which went fairly well, except for the fact that I didn't get any work, and I got a job writing copy for some kid's magazine, which was either "Transformers" or "Gobots," I'm not sure, which gives you some idea of my involvement in the project.