Title: Safari: Stanley Hastings, Book 19
Author: Parnell Hall
Narrator: Johnny Heller
Unabridged Length: 6 h, 6 m
Published by Blackstone Audio, 2014
Genres: Mysteries & Thrillers
From the Publisher:
The new Stanley Hastings mystery caper takes the ever-loquacious private detective on safari in Zambia—what could possibly go wrong? 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 fruits fell? And 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.
Recently my husband and I took a trip that required many hours of driving. We decided to invite another couple along for the ride so we could hear all about their safari adventure. I'm happy to report that Stanley and Alice Hastings are one of the most entertaining fictional couples I've had the pleasure to meet and Johnny Heller's telling of their tale is hilarious.
Alice is a woman who knows what she wants and is not about to let anyone, including Stanley, prevent her from getting it. She has carefully planned for her dream vacation and tried to prepare for all contingencies. Unfortunately, murder isn't on her list.
It isn't on Stanley's list either. Of course, Stanley doesn't have much of a list. He's mainly just trying to stay out of trouble and not lose too many "husband points" by doing something of which Alice disapproves. This becomes more difficult than anticipated when he meets a very attractive young woman at the airport. Assigning her the moniker of Lolita, he has no idea she is headed for the same safari vacation as Alice and Stanley.
Lolita is only one of an interesing assortment of vacationers and half of the fun is seeing them through Stanley's eyes. Although he may be a private investigator, his social ineptness often gives him a distorted view of reality, which is a great source of humor throughout the book. Narrator Johnny Heller uses his well-honed sense of humor to make every funny passage shine.
Of course, this is a murder mystery, so when the body count starts to climb, Stanley is called upon to identify the culprit. Thankfully, his powers of observation are more astute at a crime scene than when exchanging pleasantries around a campfire.
This story was just plain fun to hear. While travelling, there were many laugh-out-loud moments that I'm glad we could share. When we stopped for lunch or dinner, we'd discuss favorite scenes or our thoughts on how Johnny interpreted certain passages or pieces of dialog. Yes, we are audiobook geeks. Although this was the 19th title in this series, it stood on its own quite nicely. There are only two other titles in the series that have been recorded. This was the first one recorded by Johnny and I certainly hope it won't be the last! Johnny's voice fits this character perfectly - it's that wonderful combination of good writing and great narration. He brought Stanley and his escapades to life and I can't wait to hear more.
The clip below is the first chapter - it's only 5 minutes long. It shows the personalities of Alice and Stanley and how Johnny voices these characters. It's a great intro to the rest of the story. Give it a listen!