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A family affair Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: G. K. Hall
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816165610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816165612
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

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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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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By A Customer on Sept. 18 1999
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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By A Customer on Oct. 7 1997
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 29 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
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
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
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
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
Don't read it last April 22 2013
By M. Simpson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I won't go into too much detail since there are plenty of other reviews, but I do have a bit of advice. This is the last Nero Wolfe book written by Rex Stout, but if you are reading your way through the series, don't make this one last. It's impossible for it not to leave a sour taste in your mouth. I would hate to think anyone's experience with the wonderful world of Nero Wolfe would be tainted by ending with this book.

It's not a terrible book, but it's not up to the standards of the others. Almost every single one of Rex Stout's NW novels is fantastic, but A Family Affair almost feels like - not a first draft - but unedited and unpolished. This could be partially due to Mr. Stout's advanced age at the time of writing, but it really does feel more like it just wasn't edited before it was published. The dialogue isn't as witty, the characters' actions don't make a ton of sense, and the plot is ok, but it's not very elaborate and also doesn't make a ton of sense. Additionally, Rex Stout decided to make this book as much of a political commentary as he could. That's fine with me, I think he earned the right to write whatever he wanted in his last book, but it's not particularly exciting or satisfying to read. And then of course, as I think many reviews either directly mention or hint at, the murderer in this book is one of the series' regular recurring characters. That is a bit hard to take, and makes the tone pretty somber.

I have read through all the Nero Wolfe books several times and they are absolutely amazing every time. I usually do read this one, but I never put it last. If you want to read it, I think it's best to maybe read it when you've read about 3/4s of the rest of the novels. You will hate this book if you don't already love the characters, because they just are not at their best here and the plot isn't terribly engaging. And if you do love Nero Wolfe, after you finish it, you'll want to pick up another Nero Wolfe book to get the bad taste out of your mouth - return to a book where Archie, Wolfe, and Stout were at the top of their game. My favorites are the ones written from about 1945-1960.

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