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Murder, Stage Left

A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Book 12
Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
Series: New Nero Wolfe, Book 12
Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
4 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It’s curtains for a famous Broadway director, and private investigator Nero Wolfe is on the case - but his assistant, Archie Goodwin, is a suspect.

When a renowned theater director senses something amiss during his latest production, he calls in Nero Wolfe. Though the corpulent genius wouldn’t normally accept a job this vague, a mutual friend dangles the prospect of a very rare orchid in exchange for his services, and Wolfe can’t resist.

With a mind to suss out useful backstage gossip, Wolfe turns to his faithful assistant, Archie Goodwin, to impersonate a journalist in order to speak to the cast. Though Goodwin’s conversations prove unfruitful, on his last day at the theater, the director is murdered in his sound-proof booth, poisoned by an unseen culprit during an evening performance. In short order, an actor whose health is failing attempts suicide with the same poison.

Now Archie Goodwin is a prime suspect in the director’s demise, effectively sidelining him for the rest of the case, and freelance gumshoe Saul Panzer must step in to help wrangle the various members of the play - from the ingénue and the diva to the handsome movie star and the surly stage manager - so that New York’s smartest, and most reclusive, private detective can determine who is responsible for these dramatic deaths and clear Goodwin’s name once and for all.

Continuing his beloved series, Nero Award - winning author Robert Goldsborough “brings Nero Wolfe, late of Rex Stout, gloriously back to life” (Chicago).

Murder, Stage Left is the 59th book in the Nero Wolfe Mysteries, but all stories can be enjoyed on their own.

©2017 Robert Goldsborough (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A BIG disappointment.

I’ve read some of Goldsborough’s other Nero Wolfe books and they were ok. But this one misses at every turn.

Nobody’s character is right. Wolfe gives silly explanations and descriptions that Stout’s Wolfe never would. Archie lacks any of the original’s charm and good natured, but biting humor and snarky asides.

The idea of a verbose Saul Panzer sitting in on one of Wolfe’s interrogations and butting in to ask his own questions is just way over the top!! (And if I’d heard “I agree with Saul” just once more...!)

Goldsborough writes this book as though he’s desperately trying to remind Wolfe fans that he (Goldsborough) knows all the Wolfe canons, but he doesn’t get any of them right!

The little touches are missing too. The bottle caps in the drawer, the gold book marker, the yellow pajamas, Fritz’s corn cakes and wild honey, the floor alarm, the funny banter. There was no charm to this story.

But worse was the performance! Ganser’s Archie was only fair, but WOLFE sounds like Star Trek’s Sulu trying to affect an old wise demeanor! He over enunciates everything in a ridiculously over deep tone. It’s just silly!

Swiss Fritz sounds like a garbled Russian.

Worst of all is Saul Panzer! Besides being given WAY too much to say on every occasion, quiet, cultured Saul sounds like Big Julie or Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls! He pronounces “first” as “foist” and is giving lengthy explanations and cracking wise in ways the quiet, competent Saul never would.

I stuck with it to find out whodunnit- but even that felt like a cheat. One tiny omission in one of dozens of conversations was the only clue. Miss that, and the whole resolution feels forced and arbitrary.

I’ve enjoyed a few of these “knock-off” Wolfe books by RG - but this one is a big miss. Don’t waste your time or money.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Al
  • 08-12-19

I want my credit back, this was TERRIBLE

1st, this is not a Rex Stout story, which I would have realized if I had paid more attention, so that's on me. I mistook Goldsborough's name for the reader not the author.

But I have to ask..... What fool who has clearly never read a true Nero Wolfe Story gave Goldsborough *multiple* "Nero Awards"?! Rex Stout must be rolling over in his grave!!

Here's my critique of the story and reading:

1. The reading of the story is so distractingly poor that I was half way through before I could discern whether or not the actual story was any good. The reader makes everyone sound like they have the attitude of a petulant, hangry, oppositional teenage brat. The reading of Archie's lines was so bad that, if this had been my introduction to Goodwin, I would have hated him. The reading of Wolfe's lines was preposterously exaggerated and foolish. The reader's imitation of New York accents is downright insulting.
2. Once you get passed the reading, the language and characters are a very poor imitation of Rex Stout. It's more of a caricature of Nero Wolfe than a fair copy of the spirit of the series. Whoever owned the copyright and let Goldsborough take over these stories should be ashamed of themselves and pay out damages settlements to all of us who have suffered to read/listen to this. It sounds more like he's proving he read Stout's books than continuing them, but his reading of the Wolfe canon must have been a half---- effort because Wolfe, Archie, et al behave and speak in horribly uncharacteristic ways--the best and most recurrent example of this are Archie and Wolfe repeatedly referring to one of the female suspects as a "bitch"--Nero would NEVER EVER EVER EVER call a woman a by a derogatory term like that, and in the ~50 stories Stout wrote Archie never uses language like that either (the language, of course, was exacerbated with sneering emphasis by the reader, making it 10x more offensive and uncharacteristic than it already was). Not to mention Archie and Wolfe fight the whole story like a pair of whiny prepubescent brothers, Cramer is an ass in a very dislikable way and completely incompetent, I kept wondering the whole time why Wolfe and Archie couldn't catch on that Saul Panzer was obviously being impersonated by a body-snatcher, other familiar but more minor characters are treated just as badly, the dialogue is forced and poorly handled, it is completely lacking in wit and turn of phrase, and (as I'm sure Archie would note) the paragraphing is all wrong.
3. One positive note about this story: Lily Rowan is mentioned once but not featured which, given the way the other characters were so grossly mishandled, was a blessing.
4. The actual murder mystery was okay for an amateur, but the language, style, and reader combined their efforts to make the mystery forgettable at best.
5. I know you can't "return" an audiobook, but frankly this was such a disappointment and an affront to the genius of Stout that if I had a hard copy I would burn it.

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Long, boring passages

I originally liked Robert Goldsborough’s writing, carrying on the Nero Wolfe tradition. But they have not stayed as good as they began, and this one, in particular, has been almost boring. Have to get through long, tedious conversations with all the soon-to-be suspects prior to the murder, then again after. Not up to Nero Wolfe’s style, which is what he is attempting to convey.

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  • Dr. Martin Tn Knight
  • 07-09-19

Slow boring surge

Little or no plot. Absent sleuth - easy cover for inadequacy. Poor character projection. Boring story and ever so slow progress. I dare not even call it activity. The narrator made no effort to change his drawl in to different players or sexes - just a slurred drawl

0 of 1 people found this review helpful