Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February TBR Challenge book review

My February book in the 2007 TBR Challenge is A Right To Die by Rex Stout. This is a 1964 entry in the great oeuvre of Nero Wolfe detective stories. The tales are told to the reader by his assistant, Archie Goodwin. I delight in these books, and view each one as another slice of life in the old brownstone on West 35th Street in NYC. I enjoy hearing the old familiar details, like how many steps up to that brownstone, how Wolfe hates to leave his home, all the descriptions of meals - he is a gourmand, Archie and his love of milk and pretty girls, Wolfe's mistrust of machines, Archie's walks all over the city, the books Wolfe is reading, and how reluctantly Wolfe accepts new cases. He does so only to support his two passions, food and orchids.

A few quotes:

Wolfe is convinced that when real trouble comes the first thing to do is eat.

...a guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality.

A client tells Archie he lied to the police, and Archie says, "If I had a dime for every lie I've told them I'd be on my yacht in the Caribbean."

My morning fog begins to let little streaks of light through as I sip my orange juice, and with my second cup of coffee, it's all clear.

There was a hint of feeling in his look and voice as he greeted me, as there always is when I return safe and sound from a trip in long-distance machines.

It doesn't really matter to me what the case is about. The joy comes in seeing how Wolfe, who describes himself as "merely a genius," solves it, and reading about how beautifully Wolfe and Archie work together. Archie brings many abilities to this partnership, not the least being his gift for recalling every word of a conversation. I like some books/cases better than others, but am never disappointed in the two men. Along with P.G. Wodehouse and John Mortimer, Rex Stout is one of my holy trinity of writers. I am happy each time I enter the worlds they have created. I gave this book an A-.

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