|Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 13, 2022 at 7:10 AM|
Trouble in Triplicate by Rex Stout
Every once in a while, Stout treats Nero Wolfe fans to a group of novellae—stories that are a little bit simpler than his full-length novels but every bit as good. In Before I Die, Wolfe gets one of those problems that I wouldn’t even begin to know how to approach. A gangster has tried to protect his real daughter by hiring a woman to play the role and that woman is now blackmailing him. Wolfe has to call her off without endangering the real daughter. And then of course, everything is complicated by a violent death. (I don’t know why someone has to die in every Nero Wolfe story. The original problem was fascinating without the murder.)
In Help Wanted, Male, someone is out to kill Nero Wolfe and he, quite naturally, wants to prevent that from happening. This is a fun little novella and not only because I figured out the bad guy and his motivation. What’s really best about it is that Nero Wolfe makes an embarrassing mistake which is, as readers of the series know, highly unusual.
In Instead of Evidence, Wolfe is maneuvered into figuring out who is responsible for killing a man with an exploding cigar. Yes, you read that correctly. The murder weapon is a lethal version of a novelty prank item and the suspects all work for a company that designs such pranks. As one would expect from Stout, it’s another very clever mystery.