Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Three At Wolfe's Door

Three at Wolfe's Door. Rex Stout. 1960. Viking. 186 pages.

First sentence from Poison a la Carte: I slanted my eyes down to meet her big brown ones, which were slanted up.
First sentence from Method Three for Murder: When I first set eyes on Mira Holt, as I opened the front door and she was coming up the seven steps to the stoop, she was a problem, though only a minor one compared to what followed.
First sentence from The Rodeo Murder: Cal Barrow was standing at the tail end of the horse with his arm extended and his fingers wrapped around the strands of the rope that was looped over the horn of the cowboy saddle.

Three At Wolfe's Door--a Nero Wolfe Threesome--contains three novellas: Poison A La Carte, Method Three for Murder, The Rodeo Murder. Two of the three entertained me: Poison A La Carte and Method Three For Murder. (The third, well, let's just say that Rex Stout's blending of cowboys and cowgirls into New York City wasn't quite to my liking.)

In Poison A La Carte, Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe set out to solve which one of the twelve waitresses (or servers) poisoned Vincent Pyle. The evening was supposed to be pure pleasure. A gourmet meal served by lovely young ladies. Each young woman assigned to a guest. But this evening turned deadly, and it is up to these detectives to find out which woman had the greatest motive to commit murder. It's quite a puzzle, but if anyone can solve it...you can trust Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin!

Method Three for Murder is perhaps my favorite of this threesome. For it begins with a heated argument of sorts between Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. An argument that ends with Archie leaving Wolfe's employment! On his way out the door, Archie meets a young woman, Mira Holt, who wants to consult with him. She has this question. She tries to make it hypothetical. What if a woman cab driver came back to her cab and discovered a dead body? Of course, Archie, even before seeing the taxi parked in front had his suspicions. But. He takes the case anyway--rushed into a decision perhaps by the arrival of some cops! Can Archie--with the help of Nero Wolfe--solve this mystery?

Rodeo Murder is my least favorite not only of this collection but of all the novels I've read so far. I'm not sure it's worth mention at all.

I enjoyed this one. I'm not sure I loved any of the novellas. Not when comparing them with the other Nero Wolfe novels I've read. Like The Golden Spiders. Like Some Buried Caesar. But I am glad I read it!

My favorite quote from Method Three For Murder:
Over the years at least a thousand people have asked me what the police think, and I appreciate the compliment though I rarely deserve it. Life would be much simpler if I always knew what the police think at any given moment. It's hard enough to know what I think. (95)
My favorite quote from Poison A La Carte:

A young woman to Archie Goodwin:
"I've seen you and I've seen your picture. You like yourself. Don't you?"
"Certainly. I string along with the majority. We'll take a vote. How many of you like yourselves? Raise your hands." (7)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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