Champagne for One. Rex Stout. 1958. 205 pages. [Source: Bought]
First sentence: If it hadn't been raining and blowing that raw Tuesday morning in March I would have been out, walking to the bank to deposit a couple of checks, when Austin Byne phoned me, and he might have tried somebody else. But more likely not. He would probably have rung again later, so I can't blame all this on the weather.
Premise/plot: When Austin Byne calls Archie Goodwin asking him for a favor, to fill in for him at a charity event, Archie says yes. As a consequence, when a young woman, Faith Usher, dies at the event, Goodwin was there to testify to one thing with all certainty--it was not suicide, but murder. He had been warned that she had cyanide in her purse, so he was watching her and her purse all evening long. The police are unconvinced, especially at first, but they've learned not to rush things when Nero Wolfe is involved. Can Nero Wolfe and company (Archie, Saul, etc.) solve the case?! Who killed Faith and why?!
My thoughts: I ADORE Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. This was a reread for me. And before I reread it, I watched the adaptation of it. But even knowing all the details before picking it up, I have to say it is a fabulous read still.
"Archie." "Yes, sir." "Do I ever intrude in your private affairs?" "Yes, sir. Frequently. But you think you don't, so go right ahead." (11)
I'll try to be fair to him, and I know there is no law against a man having plucked eyebrows and a thin mustache and long polished nails, and my suspicion that he wore a girdle was merely a suspicion, and if he had married Mrs. Albert Grantham for her money I freely admit that no man marries without a reason and with her it would have been next to impossible to think up another one, and I concede that he may have had hidden virtues which I had missed. (18)
"I must apologize for that crack about salary. I forgot you were listening." He grunted. "Your memory is excellent and you shouldn't disparage it. What does that man want of me?" I covered a yawn. "Search me. If I had had some sleep I might risk a guess, but it's all I can do to get enough oxygen for my lungs so my brain's doing without... (60)
"You don't make it any easier, Wolfe." "I don't pretend to make things easier. I only make them manageable--when I can." (63)
As I entered, my wristwatch said 4:12. Between then and a quarter past six, slightly over two hours, I ate five pieces of pie, two rhubarb and one each of apple, green tomato, and chocolate, and drank four glasses of milk and two cups of coffee, while seated at a table by the front window, from which I could see the entrance to 87, across the street and up a few doors. To keep from arousing curiosity by either my tenure or my diet, I had my notebook and pencil out and made sketches of a cat sleeping on a chair. In the Village that accounts for anything. (155)
"Do you know what a genius is? A genius is a guy who makes things happen without his having any idea that they are going to happen. It's quite a trick." (159)
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