Monday, June 06, 2011

Death of a Doxy

Death of a Doxy. A Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1966/1996. Chivers Press. 202 pages.

I stood and sent my eyes around. It's just routine, when leaving a place where you aren't supposed to be, to consider if and where you have touched things, but that time it went beyond mere routine. I made certain. 

Orrie Cather asked Archie Goodwin to 'sneak' into his mistress' apartment to see if he could 'find' certain items that she is holding against him. She is demanding marriage; he is refusing. He is not only in love with another woman, he is going to marry this other woman, a flight attendant named Jill Hardy. But when Archie Goodwin enters the apartment--using Cather's key--he discovers a body. Isabel Kerr has been murdered. Of course, Archie makes a hasty exit, not wanting to be 'the one' who discovered the body. For how could he justify being there without making a mess of things? (This isn't the first time Archie has let others be the one to take credit for finding a body he's already found.)

So a few days later when Orrie Cather is arrested, it is time for Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin (along with a few other associates) to make a decision. How likely is it that their friend, their associate, committed this murder? How likely is it that he is innocent? If they believe he is innocent, they must do what they can to help their friend. They must find enough evidence to stop their friend from being convicted or even from going to trial. The police have stopped looking for other suspects, but Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, well their search for other suspects is just beginning! And so it begins...

I enjoyed Death of a Doxy. The more of these Nero Wolfe mysteries I read, the more I love them. I am just loving these characters. And I am finding Rex Stout's writing style to be completely delightful and charming. A near-perfect cozy mystery.

Archie waiting to speak with Isabel's sister and brother-in-law:

There are a lot of interesting things to do while you're waiting in an upper hall of an apartment house for four hours and twenty minutes. You can count spots and decide which has more, the left wall or the right wall. You can try to sort out smells and decide how many different flavors there are in the over-all effect. You can listen to the wails coming through the door of 7B and decide whether the little lamb is male or female and how old it is, and what steps you would take if you were inside. When people arrive or leave you can look straight at them and notice which ones look back and which ones pretend they haven't seen you. When a hefty, broad-shouldered woman turns after inserting a key into the lock of 7C and asks, "Are you waiting for someone?" you can say pleasantly and distinctly, "Yes," and see how she reacts. On the whole, it was time well spent. My one regret was that I hadn't brought along a chocolate bar, five or six bananas, and a quart of milk. (49)

Archie contemplating the 'nothingness' of his searching:

Of course anything is possible. It was possible that one of the women had thought that Isabel had pinched her lipstick and had gone to get it and got mad and bopped her, or that one of the men hated Rudyard Kipling and couldn't stand a woman who had him bound in leather, but you need something better than ten billion possibles to get your teeth into. Any little piece of straw will do, but you have to have something. For instance, statistics. There are two kinds of statistics, the kind you look up and the kind you make up. (95-96)

Archie on Nero Wolfe's "battle" with the TV:

I had had a long walk. Wolfe had had the Times and a book, and probably, while I was out, his weekly battle with television. That may occur almost any evening, when he has got disgusted with a book, but usually it's a Sunday afternoon, because that's when TV is supposed to be dressed for company. He turns on one channel after another, getting grimmer and grimmer, until he is completely assured that it's getting worse instead of better, and quits. (168)
Other Nero Wolfe mysteries that I've enjoyed: Some Buried Caesar. The Silent SpeakerThe Black Orchid. The Golden Spiders

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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