Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are all great fun, full of wonderful food and the arcane details of hobbies as diverse as orchid growing and Balkan history. But in this outing, things suddenly become much more serious when Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin face the malevolent forces of J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI minions. Luckily, Stout's heart and his writing style are more than equal to the challenge.
From Library Journal
Nero Wolfe is sleuthing as usual in these three mysteries. In the Best Families deals with Mrs. Rackam, an aging millionaire who approaches Wolfe to investigate why her young and penniless husband suddenly and mysteriously has large sums of money. Wolfe's inquiry leads him to a confrontation with Arnold Zeck; later a letter bomb causes Wolfe to resign from detective work and go into hiding, leaving his assistant, Archie Goodwin, to solve the case. Has Wolfe's career ended in humiliation? Only time will tell. Michael Pritchard's clear and strong reading helps support the tale. Rachel Bruner, a wealthy society widow, turns to Wolfe in The Doorbell Rang. She writes him a check for $100,000 and asks him to stop the FBI from spying on her and her family. She will pay more if he is successful. He takes the case, and soon Wolfe and Archie are confronting FBI agents, murder, and threats as they search for answers. Champagne for One challenges Wolfe's knowledge of gourmet food and of sleuthing. Did society girl Faith Usher commit suicide via cyanide in her champagne, or was she murdered? Archie was there, and he suspects foul play. Saul Rubinek provides pleasant readings of both stories and helps keep the atmosphere charged. Although abridged, The Doorbell Rang/Champagne for One provides more entertainment than In the Best Families and is recommended.ADenise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY
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