I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2016. The challenge is to read books that you already own.
The Hand in the Glove aka Crime on Her Hands- Rex Stout
In the late Thirties, Stout’s publishers were worried that his prolific output featuring his PI hero Nero Wolfe would overexpose the rotund detective and inundate the market. They urged him to try another project. With female readership in mind, he created Theodolinda “Dol” Bonner. She was all ready to live the life of the carefree socialite when the Depression wiped out her father and drove him to suicide. Her cad of a fiancé, seeing that she had no great expectations after all, dumped her. Like Lily Dale, Dol swore never to love another and started a detective business with her friend, the heiress Sylvia Raffray.
Basically, this has the elements of a cozy mystery from the classic era of whodunnits between the wars. The characters are affluent, cultured, charming. The setting is a house in the New England country. There is a fistful of suspects. Aside from the female PI, what makes this mystery something different is the totally believable character of George Leo Ranth. He is a guru of a belief system that seeks to separate society matrons from their money and chattels. Stout gives him a line of mystical patter about Ranth’s “League of the Occidental Sakti,” patter than is simultaneously plausible, demented, and laughable. Stout had a unique sense of language and its various styles to balance out his over-fondness for and frequent use of unusual words such as “quidnunc.”
Anyway, Stout fans may want to check this out if it comes their way. Stout never returned to starring Dol in another novel, but she does up with other Wolfe helpers like Saul and Orrie in Too Many Detectives, If Death Ever Slept and Plot It Yourself.