on June 15, 2003
This is an excellent collection of Nero Wolfe short stories--some of the best Stout ever wrote, but they are still short stories. While they are great introductory reading for the new Stout enthusiast (highly recommended if this applies to you), the stories seem rather abrupt for anyone who's read the novels. Just as Wolfe, the cantankerous, lazy, overweight, yet completely endearing detective, and Archie, the CLASSIC unflappable sidekick, seem to begin solving the murder, they've found the solution, and the story is over. Other than the general abruptness of the stories, the book is wonderful, and the stories themselves are some of the best Stout ever wrote--if only he had fleshed them out into novels...
In "Eeny Meeny Murder Mo," 'it's a wily killer who dares to strike on Nero Wolfe's hallowed turf--and leave a corpse strangled with Wolfe's own soup-stained tie.' This is the story that was turned into an A&E movie, and the one that got me started on Rex Stout's novels.
In "Death of a Demon," 'Wolfe faces a gun-toting wife who serves up a confession of homicidal intent--only to become the sole suspect when her husband's corpse is found.' This one is a little confusing, keeping all of the guns (some toted by the aforementioned wife) straight.
Finally, in "Counterfeit for Murder," 'a cop-hating landlady brings Wolfe counterfeit cash--that leads to genuine murder.' This story introduces a very likeable character in the landlady, one of the few women Wolfe (by no means a woman-hater; they just seem to get in the way of his orderly existence) moderately respects.
on March 19, 2002
This edition now boasts "As Seen on TV!" on its cover, alluding to the fact that 1 (so far) of the 3 short stories herein has been adapted by A&E. Apart from Stephen Greenleaf's forward and the afterward, the book is pure Stout.
All 3 are murder investigations.
"Eeny Meeny Murder Mo" - The A&E adaptation is faithful to the story, although it has a little extra trimming - specifically, A&E added a prologue, where Archie begins telling the story at the Thursday night poker game while Orrie is preparing to bet, as a bridge to the next A&E episode, "Disguise for Murder", which picks up with the poker game after Archie finishes the story.
Bertha Aaron, a valued employee of Otis, Edey, Heydecker, and Jett, fears to go to Otis with her problem because of his heart condition. She caught a member of the firm meeting secretly with the opposing client in a major case, confronted the offender, and doesn't know what to do. (She won't say which, hence the title of the story.) Unfortunately, the firm's client is Morton Sorrell, and the opposing client is his soon-to-be-ex wife Rita Ramsey Sorrell - a divorce case. And while Archie tries to persuade Wolfe that the divorce has nothing to do with Ms. Aaron's problem, somebody gets into the office and leaves her dead on the floor.
Strangled with one of Wolfe's neckties.
Oh, boy. :)
"Death of a Demon" - Lucy Hazen hires Wolfe just to hear her say, "That's the gun I'm not going to shoot my husband with." She wants a divorce, which he won't grant, and she hates him so much that she's taking this step to shake the idea - discussing in detail how much she's been obsessed lately with the idea of killing Hazen. Unfortunately, as Wolfe points out, this puts her in a bad position if (and as it turns out, when) somebody *else* shoots him.
Barry Hazen likes (or rather, liked) making people squirm. He was a PR guy who didn't seem to give value for money; as Theodore Weed, an employee who's fallen for Lucy, can confirm, he had clients who didn't need PR at all, or who had other firms provide PR for their businesses, but paid Hazen for 'personal publicity'. All of which begins to leave the aroma of a blackmailer who squeezed someone too hard, or too many times...
"Counterfeit for Murder" (a.k.a. "The Counterfeiter's Knife") - Alternate, older version of "Assault on a Brownstone" (see _Death Times Three_). Hattie Annis in this version is an aging, unkempt woman rather than someone who'd attract Archie's fancy - that's the major difference.
on February 18, 2002
This book consists of three novelettes or short stories, each featuring a singularly perplexing murder.
In "Eeny Meeny Murder Mo," Wolfe gets a spot on his tie, removes it, places it on his desk, goes to his upstairs greenhouse, and returns to find the tie tied tightly around the neck of a prominent attorney's secretary. He becomes so embarrassed by the incident, he finds himself incapable of thinking clearly. Wolfe swears he will find the killer, but he hasn't got a clue how to go about it. Archie gently prods trying to get Wolfe back on track. Wolfe finally regains his composure and . . . .
"That's the gun I'm not going to murder my husband with," the lady says as she puts it on Nero Wolfe's desk. The only trouble is, he's already dead. In "Death of a Demon," Wolfe finds himself in the unenviable position of possibly concealing the murder weapon from his arch nemesis, Inspector Cramer. He must walk a fine line between legitimate investigation and obstruction of justice in order to exonerate his client.
In "Counterfeit for Murder," Archie thinks it will be great fun to try to induce Wolfe to act for a homely old landlady who has a bagful of funny money. When the landlady's beautiful tenant is found dead and the landlady is arrested, Wolfe must fend off Inspector Cramer and the Secret Service as he tries to free his homely client and find the real killer. I must admit that when I read a Nero Wolfe mystery, I'm usually in the dark until Wolfe unveils the killer. In this one, the killer is obvious to the careful reader.
on October 25, 2002
Stout somehow packs 3 novellas into 205 pocket-sized pages. Two concern rich Manhattanites, one working class down-to-earth ones. Although Nero Wolf is headlined, most of the investigating and narration falls to Archie Goodwin, his assistant. Wolf, according to Archie, is a genius, but to the reader appears overweight (he had his chair custom-made to accommodate him), self-indulgent (his chef prepares him gourmet meals), and irascible (voicing impatience with dull and uncooperative witnesses). There are enough surprises and twists (too many to summarize) to dizzy the reader. Entertaining.