Monday, January 20, 2014

Vintage Mystery #4

I read this book for the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge 2014. The challenge is to read 6 or more Vintage Mysteries. All novels must have been originally written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

I read this for D-4: Read a Book Published by an Author You’ve Read Before

The Golden Spiders– Rex Stout, 1953

Many un-Nero-like points surprised me. Usually Nero titles feature people and this is the only novel whose title refers to a creature. Nero Wolfe’s right-hand man gets involved in a shoot-out, when gunplay is very rare in the series. After carefully describing the preparation so we can try it at home, Archie later “stimulates” information out of a suspect.  As if torture were not enough, one of the murder victims is a 12-year-old kid.

Crikey, this is not what I read Rex Stout for. Rex Stout is supposed to be about as cozy as I can tolerate.

Remember when A&E had shows that had art and brains, rather than the reality TV antics and shenanigans of people that we thank heaven we don’t know? A&E based a show on Nero novels. The actor who played Saul Panzer, Saul Rubinek, said “Rex Stout was a great humanitarian, and he did a tremendous amount of charity work, and he was very compassionate towards immigrants to the United States. It's not out of keeping with Stout's personality that he would have written about victimization of immigrants who are being blackmailed.” At least, the plot hinges on a scheme that we can relate too, in our days of immigration reform angst.

Wolfe, happily, is his cranky conceited self. Talk about the master of asteism:

Take Mr. Goodwin. It would be difficult for me to function effectively without him. He is irreplaceable. Yet his actions are largely governed by impulse and caprice, and that would of course incapacitate him for any important task if it were not that he has somewhere concealed in him — possibly in his brain, though I doubt it — a powerful and subtle governor.

Two of Wolfe’s would-be clients are later found murdered by being run over by a car. Wolfe immediately identifies the risk to his reputation: “I resent the assumption that people who come to me for help can be murdered with impunity.” The problem is that since Archie has tortured a suspect to get vital information, he does not need to go the deducing or detecting route.

My verdict: ho-hum. Recommended to only Nero fans that have to read them all good weak or ho-hum. Novices to Nero are hereby warned off. Read The Red Box.

1 comment:

  1. This is one I haven't read--I have seen the A&E version, which was excellent.