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Publisher's Summary

Madeline Fraser, radio talk show host extraordinaire, had a natural dread of dead air. So when one of her on-air guests signed off at the mike after drinking a glass of a sponsor’s beverage, it was a broadcaster’s nightmare come true. 

Enter Nero Wolfe. He agrees to take the case, with his sizable fee contingent on his solving the murder. But to Wolfe’s surprise, everyone connected to the case now lies in unison about it. And as the portly detective soon discovers, the secret worth lying about only hides another worth killing for.   

Introduction by Maan Meyers

“It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore.” (The New York Times Book Review)

A grand master of the form, Rex Stout is one of America’s greatest mystery writers, and his literary creation Nero Wolfe is one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. Together, Stout and Wolfe have entertained - and puzzled - millions of mystery fans around the world. Now, with his perambulatory man-about-town, Archie Goodwin, the arrogant, gourmandizing, sedentary sleuth is back in the original 73 cases of crime and detection written by the inimitable master himself, Rex Stout.

Stout fellow: explore our list of Nero Wolfe mysteries, including novels and classic radio programs.
©1948 Rex Stout (P)1995 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"[Prichard's] Nero Wolfe is suitably commanding." (AudioFile)
"It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore." (New York Times)

What listeners say about And Be a Villain

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Not one of my favorites

I like almost all of the Nero Wolfe novels, but this, and the follow on (In the Best of Families) are two of my least favorite. It even seemed to me that the narrator did not like these two, making a few uncharacteristic mistakes and lacking his usual upbeat flow.

I found the plot elements a bit less believable than usual. This book introduces an almost all powerful villain that becomes a major factor in the next book, In Best of Families. I found this Moriarty-like character more than a bit derivative and I found both of these books among the least compelling of all the Nero Wolfe novels. Still this was not bad in any way, it is just not as good as I have come to expect from Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe.

5 people found this helpful

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The First of the Zeck Novels... Read All Three!

This novel introduces a master villain who motivates three superb Nero Wolfe novels. They are not to be missed for fans of this series and should absolutely be read in order, 2nd - The Second Confession, 3rd -In the Best Families.

2 people found this helpful

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Recording had skips...

Pritchard was great as usual but the recording had skips, like a scratched LP. Noticeable & irritating, but not enough to interfere with the story.

2 people found this helpful

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love Nero Wolf

this book didn't seem to have as much Wolf action, but still it was great

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Brilliant!

I love virtually all of the Nero Wolfes. But would say this is probably my fave. Get it and enjoy :-)

1 person found this helpful

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You can't go wrong with Rex Stout

This isn't one of the better Nero Wolfe mysteries, but even the less wonderful ones are better than most of what's out there. Michael Prichard always brings out Archie's sly deadpan sarcasm and Wolfe's misanthropic stubbornness with great skill.

5 people found this helpful

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Great Gumshoe Mystery

For my credits there is no pairing that beats Nero and Archie, except maybe Holmes and Watson. But I think Stout does a better job of creating an atmosphere and building tension. If you don't already know these stories do yourself a favor and get to know them. Pritchard is a great narrator too. I've been listening so long I still expect him to say "if the cassette is stuck remove it and slap it sharply against a flat surface". If you get it, you get it.

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an excellent mystery, unfortunate narrator

one of the good ones, after all they are all good but some of them are more a or b grade. This is an a one. I don't like Michael Pritchard as a narrator; he doesn't have the sense of humor inherent in Archie Goodwin.

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Complex & Excellent

I own all of the Nero Wolfe (by Rex Stout) Audible Audiobooks narrated by Michael Prichard; this is one of my favorites.

Somewhat challenging because the cast of characters is large.

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  • BJ
  • 01-03-19

Extreamly hard to follow and figure out.

this is impossible to follow and keep up with. too many clues and false clues. Everyone seems to be lying and devious. Hopeless to follow. The only book by Rex Stout to skip. Frustrating and a waste of MY time, but take your time and keep a score pad of who's who and what's what, it might be YOUR cup of tea.