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And Be a Villain Mass Market Paperback – Feb 1 1994


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crimeline (Feb. 1 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553239317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553239317
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #239,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition
That is worth the price of admission alone. This is a stand out mystery in the Wolfe canon. Radio celebrity Madelaine Fraser is sponsored by Hi-Spot soft drink. Radio guest, Cyril Orchard is poisoned. This is considered poor publicity and mayhem ensues. This puts Wolfe in the middle of middle century pop culture and he doesn't like it. We on the other hand get a great deal of enjoyment from the trademark banter between Wolfe and Archie and the deftly drawn cast of characters. If you haven't read Wolfe you are unlikely to be disappointed.
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By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 29 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I've been trying to read the Nero Wolfe novels in chronological order, there are a few that have been hard to come by; "And Be A Villain," published in 1948, is one that I've had to read out of sequence. Not that much changes in terms of the main characters from one book to another, but author Rex Stout occasionally mentions a previously-solved case in passing, so I try to be aware of all the books that have gone before, if I can. In any event, this one involves a star female radio talk show host who has the misfortune of having one of her guests die, poisoned, on-air, and worse, the poison was placed in a soft drink that is a major sponsor of her show! Nero Wolfe, always having his self-comfort foremost in his mind, offers to work on the case for a hefty fee (he's just paid his taxes, and is feeling financially woebegone), but he soon finds that everybody connected to the case is lying to him. When another, seemingly unrelated murder occurs, other secrets begin to pile up, including a breath-takingly clever blackmail scheme and episodes from various people's past....As always, I enjoyed this taste of Nero Wolfe, although I must admit that his inherent sexism is a bit more heavy-handed in this story than in most. Still, that's a product of the times in which it was written, and with that in mind, I still found it intriguing and engaging enough to recommend it to all.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Rex Stout continues to deliver a fun, challenging and engaging story featuring the characters anyone can quickly come to love.

Definitely worth buying and reading at least once!
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By Heather on June 28 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This has got to be my favorite of all the Nero Wolfe books. The interplay between Archie and Wolfe, Wolfe's rants about sub-par mass produced foodstuffs, to the dated slang used by teenager Nancylee, are all perfect representations of the best of Rex Stout. It all comes together in a truly delightful tale that had me smiling from start to finish.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Meet it is I set it down
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
- Hamlet, Act I, scene 5, soliloquy before swearing vengeance
As with all of Stout's Wolfe mysteries, the setting is contemporary with the time of its writing - in this case, 18 March - 3 April 1948, which makes it a period piece today. Radio, rather than television, was the dominant communication medium in the United States. Commercials were live, rather than pre-recorded; in the case of a talk show, the host would participate in the commercial in front of a live studio audience. (This persisted even into the early years of television. A Timex commercial that went seriously wrong, wherein the watch couldn't even be *found* after the it's-still-ticking test, persisted for decades in Johnny Carson's list of funniest incidents on his show, for example.) And at that time, a national income tax was a relatively new feature of life in the United States, and fell due on the 15th of March. All these factors matter in setting the stage for this story.
Hi-Spot, one of the sponsors of the Madeleine Fraser show, revelled in her live commercials for their product, wherein she and her guests would drink 'the drink you dream of.' But the PR dream turned into a nightmare when someone spiked one glass with cyanide, and Cyril Orchard, one of the show's guests in a discussion of gambling, died 'live' on the air.
But was the editor of _Track Almanac_ the intended victim? Among the suspects - some of whom may have been intended victims - emotions, blood, and money may have become entangled. Deborah Koppel, Fraser's business manager, is also her sister-in-law through Fraser's late husband - and her principal beneficiary. Does she blame Fraser for her brother's death?
Read more ›
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By A Customer on May 24 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
This outing is set in a time long ago, when radio stars were national celebrities on a par with today's TV talk show hosts, and people actually clamoured to be in the audience. The Oprah of her day serves her guests the sponsor's carbonated drink on air, and one drops dead ... right there on live radio. Wolfe naturally figures out the killer's identity -- with a huge assist from Archie, just as naturally. Unfortunately, Wolfe doesn't do it in time to stop a trio of other murders from happening. He seems to feel genuinely remorseful about this, as if he were angry at himself. This isn't something we've seen often in Wolfe, and I found it appealing. Also, reading this was like getting a valentine from a long-ago era. While it may not have taken place that many years ago, today's world is far different from the one described here. Radio is not the prevalent broadcast media. Trains move at too leisurely a pace to be our primary mode of transportation anymore. And most of all, our criminals today are far more efficient and sophisticated. I kept waiting for Wolfe to send Archie to the soda bottling plant to investigate, but it never happened. And then I realized it: no one even considered mass product tampering back in the day. It actually made me kind of wistful for those more innocent times.
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