I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This book contains three Nero Wolfe short stories; Eeny Meeny Murder Mo, Death of a Demon, and Counterfeit for Murder. Eeny Meeny Murder Mo was my favorite of these, and is also one of the stories that A&E adapted for TV. I generally prefer longer Nero Wolfe novels to the collections of short stories, but this was the best of the short collections. As usual Michael Prichard’s narration is excellent and audio quality is great. Each of these shorts have a situation or character that is so good, it overcomes the lack of richness I get from Stout’s novels. I thought I had read every Nero Wolfe story long ago, but somehow had missed Counterfeit for Murder, which was a pleasant surprise.
If you have never read a Nero Wolfe story, this is perhaps the best introduction to the series. The Nero Wolfe stories are funny, stimulating, and touching, developing a cast of character you come to appreciate in relationships that are like a close, clever, cantankerous family. The stories have twists that are unexpected, yet seldom unbelievable. The logic holds together, and even when I have not figured out the mystery, I almost always feel that I had a fair chance, but missed some subtle point, sometimes a single line.
This collection contains three stories, two of which appear in different versions in other collections. The stories are Bitter End, Frame-Up for Murder (a later version of Murder is No Joke found in And Four to Go), and Assault on a Brownstone (an early version of Counterfeit for Murder found in Homicide Trinity). These were good stories, but two were repeats for me. Counterfeit for Murder is one of my favorite Wolfe stories and is better than Assault on a Brownstone. Frame-Up for Murder is a bit better than Murder is No Joke. Bitter End was quite enjoyable. I generally prefer the novels to short stories, but these are among the better Stout shorts.
This Nero Wolfe novel is the final in the fictional timeline and the last written by Stout. It is set in 1974 with references to Nixon, Ford and Watergate. This is a little weird as I always picture Archie and Wolfe as creatures of the 30s and 40s. If Archie was hired in 1930 and must have been at least 23, then in 1974 Archie would be 67, and the older Fritz and Wolfe are still alive and kicking in 1974? Oh well, you have to suspend disbelief for this timeline. Nevertheless the characters and relationships are at their best, the writing is excellent with lots of wit and detail, and the story is interesting with unexpected twists and a killer ending. The narration, as always, is excellent.
This is a must read for any lover of Nero Wolfe, but don’t make it your first of the series, or even your tenth. This should be one of the last read, as it will be more enjoyable if you know all the characters really well. This book is one of my all-time favorites of the series.