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A family affair [Hardcover]

3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Stout has lost his touch in old age? Pfui. Jan. 14 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I didn't see in this book that characters were out of character or that the plot or whatnot had problems. Archie is his usual capable smartass self, and Wolfe's diction and grammar remain laser-precise (to use a metaphor he would scorn). The difference from the other novels is that this one has a somber note, and it sounded from Stout's deep disappointment with Watergate. (Wolfe fans know of his respect for words: "somber" goes back to a near-identical French word that means "grave.") Stout was thinking about issues of patriotism and betrayal when he penned this novel, and it shows. It should. Nixon was given control of the ship of state, and while steering it he indulged in wrecklessness and flummery.
Wolfe does break some of his cherished rules; but can't we allow him to in Archie's last report of his doings? And he breaks them because the case is "a family affair." His self-esteem, as large as his fabled seventh of a ton, has been tweaked. A murder has happened in his own home--and, twice as indigestible, the victim is mighty Nero's own waiter at Rusterman's. He requires satisfaction and will halt his planetary momentum at nothing--not even jail time--to get it.
Being a male chauvinist lookalike, as Saul Panzer would have it (and not just a lookalike, unfortunately), Archie's machismo could never allow him to comment at length on how he felt about where the investigation led. His lapses say it for him. A question implicit in what he and Wolfe discover is: how does one come to terms with finding betrayal where one expected sincerity? It can be an anguishing question, and the stylish solution devised by "the family" leaves behind it both a mystery solved but a lesson learned about the need to be critical of those who claim to uphold the law of the land.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The last Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mystery Oct. 7 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
For the die-hard Nero Wolfe fans. The last (original) novel about the over-fed, orchid-lover genius detective and his wise-cracking sidekick Archie. Sadly it looks like the Author was about to start killing the long living characters that populated his stories. Not his best effort, but his last so, a must for Nero fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars shattering conclusion to the series June 6 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
There was a truth and integrity to Rex Stout that was reflected in his life and work, and nowhere is it more evident that in this; the final entry in a series written over almost 40 years. Someone is killing people known to Wolfe with a small explosive device. Wolfe, Archie and the trio of Saul, Fred and Orrie are brought in to assist. This book is dark and tautly written. That anyone wrote this is an achievement; that it was written by a man well into his eighties is remarkable. If your are a fan of Rex Stout, this is a must read. Perfect over brandy on a despairing winter afternoon.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The last one Sept. 18 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The last book written by Stout and of course the last of Nero by the originator. The author was in his late 80's and it shows, but if you love Nero you have to read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Despite some inconsistencies, last Rex Stout Nero Wolfe an outstanding pleaser ! Aug. 3 2005
By Jerry Bull - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
We read the entire (and considerable) collection of Nero Wolfe stories nearly forty years ago, some contemporaneous with their original publication. "Family Affair", released in 1975, turned out to be Rex Stout's last novel, even though his estate paid Robert Goldsborough to do a credible job of writing seven more entries in the Wolfe series. Stout was in his early 80's as of this writing, but his plot and vocabulary were as excellent as ever, with quite a surprising twist and sense of justice at the close of the story. During our recent re-read, we were a little surprised to see political commentary about Watergate and (then President) Nixon - obviously the author was upset at the scandalous turn of events, and uses Wolfe's dialogue to register his severe chagrin.

This book reminds us of several things. One - it's amazing how much fun, mystery, and suspense some of the classic writers of fifty years ago could pack into a 150-200 page volume. Few words were wasted, and no filler or irrelevant subplots were deployed to compile the 400-700 page tomes we so often get today. Two - it occurs to us, that characters were revealed ever so slowly over the course of multiple stories. So one can't just pick up this novel and even begin to understand the complexities of our genius detective and his affable sidekick; it takes reading several entries in the set to really get to know these guys in a way that eventually seals their place in our hearts and minds as "best friends!" Lastly, there is a certain predictability we come to enjoy - not from guessing the outcome (difficult!) but rather just enjoying the eccentricities and habits of the familiar people and places: Wolfe's bottle caps, his globe, Cramer's cigars, the old brownstone, etc.

In the story, a waiter is bombed to death (!) in Wolfe's guest bedroom, causing both he and Archie a sense of outrage so strong they commit to finding the killer on their own with no client in sight. They soon deduce the police will never figure it out, and somewhat uncharacteristically refuse completely to cooperate with the police. Wolfe leaves the house (amazing!) to speed along the investigation, and even spends a night in jail - incredible! While these seeming inconsistencies irk some of Stout's fans, we found them acceptable in terms of the unusual nature of this plot, which we don't intend to spoil an iota with further commentary.

We found ourselves as pleased as ever with Wolfe and Stout. We were partially moved by nostalgia, but that had nothing to do with the sheer enjoyment and entertainment value found in this fine conclusion to the tales of one of the greatest detectives in modern fiction.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stout has lost his touch in old age? Pfui. Jan. 14 2004
By Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I didn't see in this book that characters were out of character or that the plot or whatnot had problems. Archie is his usual capable smartass self, and Wolfe's diction and grammar remain laser-precise (to use a metaphor he would scorn). The difference from the other novels is that this one has a somber note, and it sounded from Stout's deep disappointment with Watergate. (Wolfe fans know of his respect for words: "somber" goes back to a near-identical French word that means "grave.") Stout was thinking about issues of patriotism and betrayal when he penned this novel, and it shows. It should. Nixon was given control of the ship of state, and while steering it he indulged in wrecklessness and flummery.
Wolfe does break some of his cherished rules; but can't we allow him to in Archie's last report of his doings? And he breaks them because the case is "a family affair." His self-esteem, as large as his fabled seventh of a ton, has been tweaked. A murder has happened in his own home--and, twice as indigestible, the victim is mighty Nero's own waiter at Rusterman's. He requires satisfaction and will halt his planetary momentum at nothing--not even jail time--to get it.
Being a male chauvinist lookalike, as Saul Panzer would have it (and not just a lookalike, unfortunately), Archie's machismo could never allow him to comment at length on how he felt about where the investigation led. His lapses say it for him. A question implicit in what he and Wolfe discover is: how does one come to terms with finding betrayal where one expected sincerity? It can be an anguishing question, and the stylish solution devised by "the family" leaves behind it both a mystery solved but a lesson learned about the need to be critical of those who claim to uphold the law of the land.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stout's Last -- With a Killer Ending Jan. 27 2003
By bestseller92 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Why do people say that Stout's age was showing when he wrote this book? To me, it's just as clever as any of the previous Wolfe tomes, and it has a surprising, killer ending. Very courageous of Stout to plot it like he did. An excellent book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bittersweet finale Feb. 21 2007
By J. Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A FAMILY AFFAIR is a bittersweet finish to Stout's wonderful series. One of Rusterman's waiters is killed in Wolfe's home and the resulting investigation heads down a path that lies very close to Wolfe and Archie. All the extended cast make an appearance; Cramer and Stebbins, Lily Rowan and even Theodore Horstman, Wolfe's orchid man, all have a moment in this farewell. The killer is revealed relatively early in this one as it leads to dark ending; an ending befitting the grim circumstances of this case. This is not the best of Stout's Wolfe mysteries but it certainly is a memorable one.

The closing lines bring the series to an appropriate end:

Wolfe said, "Will you bring brandy, Archie? And two glasses. If Fritz is up, bring him and three glasses. We'll try to get some sleep." after forty years of wonderful adventures and possibly the most re-readable mysteries ever, they deserve it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Swan Song -- mine and his Aug. 15 2006
By Beejay Walter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm reviewing the BOOK -- not the CD or cassette. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. This one I couldn't wait to finish. It's my 7th, and probably my last, Nero Wolfe book, but what a great way to end. What I loved most was the surprise ending -- a surprise for me, certainly. Also, Wolfe and Archie were more real to me, and I wonder if perhaps that's because I've read many before this one. Well, the ending was a surprise for me, and that's pretty much what I look for in a mystery. The characters? I like a well-developed main character and interesting recurring minor characters, but I really don't give a hoot about those who get killed, etc. For me mysteries are puzzles, mental games, and I feel that Stout came through on this one.

I'm not hooked on Nero Wolfe and don't expect to read more Nero Wolfe books, but I might look at the movies that Amazon (and others) have to offer.
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