And Be a Villain: A Nero Wolfe Mystery Audio CD – Audiobook, CD
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About the Author
Michael Prichard is a Los Angeles-based actor who has recorded over 400 audiobooks. Smart Money named him one of their Top Ten Golden Voices.”
A murder before a studio audience on a radio broadcast means a high-profile case and a $20,000 paycheck, both important to Nero Wolfe, who needs to boost his bank account quickly to pay for his luxurious living. Reading in Archie Goodwin's first-person voice, Michael Prichard gives the narration a touch of noir tone but keeps the emphasis on Rex Stout's witty dialogue as the wise-guy sidekick. His Nero Wolfe is suitably commanding as he belittles and deceives to get the truth from a gallery of dishonest suspects. Fans also will want to hear IN THE BEST FAMILIES, which resolves the battle with crime boss Arnold Zeck that is set up here. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
A few amusing vignettes, granted, but the writing (apart from literally one or two good lines) was middling at best, and the plot was hardly original or surprising -- although perhaps Madeline Fraser's secret would have been much more shocking in 1948 than it is today.
But the worst thing about this book was Wolfe himself. I just didn't find him convincing at all. (The other characters, though, were much more so, especially Archie, who admittedly was the narrator, which must work in his favour believability-wise.)
That's the problem with eccentic geniuses, I guess. You need to be a very good writer to pull them off. And Stout just ain't quite there. (Conan Doyle, whose Holmes & Watson Stout's Wolfe and Goodwin seem to be poor imitations of, was more successful with his great detective. Holmes, though equally eccentric, was somehow always palpably real. The character of Nero Wolfe, on the other hand, just seems artificial and contrived.)
That said, the episodes with Nancylee were funny. And the glimpses of the big-money sponsors' machinations were quite diverting too. Same goes for Archie and the way he reveals to the reader his frustrations with the "genius" Wolfe. It's just a shame the supporting characters are so much more compelling than the central one.
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Richard Schwindt
Rex Stout continues to deliver a fun, challenging and engaging story featuring the characters anyone can quickly come to love. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2010 by WryGrin
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... Read morePublished on June 27 2004 by Heather
All the Nero Wolfes books I have read have been above par. But this one was excellent in every way. The characters are brilliant, the banter between them as clever and as witty as... Read morePublished on July 28 2001 by Aaron Newlands
A guest on a radio talk show drops dead after taking a drink of the sponsor's beverage. Everyone involved lies through their teeth. Read morePublished on July 3 2001 by George R Dekle
It's been almost a week since guest Cyril Orchard was poisoned on the popular Madeline Fraser radio show. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2001 by Ann E. Nichols
Is it just me, or did you also like the way wolfe bullied that irritating little girl in this story? Read morePublished on July 7 2000 by Wowie
Also titled More Deaths Than One, this is the first and best of the Arnold Zeck trilogy. If you want to read it in order, follow this with The Second Confession and Even in the... Read morePublished on Aug. 2 1999