May 29 , 2008



This little book is a tribute to Rex Stout, the creator of the Nero Wolfe series – 48 novels and some three dozen or more novellas. Nero Wolfe is an unlikely detective: • He rarely leaves his residence, a brownstone in Manhattan. • He weighs a seventh of a ton. • He drinks a lot of beer. • He helps prepare gourmet meals with Fritz Brenner, his Swiss Chef. • He has a full-time assistant, Theodore Horstman, whose only function is to pamper the thousands of orchids in his plants room above his residence. • He refuses to take any case involving marital difficulties, and he will not accept any simple “tailing” jobs. • He insists that clients understand that when they hire him to do a job, he insists on a free rein. • His leg man, the one who reports the particulars to Mr. Wolfe and, of course, to us is Archie Goodwin. Archie has a near-perfect memory, and a comfortable, breezy writing style. “Murder in terms of Death” involves almost all of the characters we have come to expect when Mr. Wolfe and Archie agree to investigate the death of Meredith Yare, a well-known Shakespearean performer, hired by Bucky Minster, the president of the Manhattan Broadcasting Corporation, and a local group led by Lily Rowan. Ms. Yare was temporarily sharing an apartment with Marilyn Maven, a TV news analyst working for the MBC. Ms. Maven discovers the body and is an early suspect. Wolfe’s suspicions lead him to send Saul to Oregon, where he reports on a previous murder involving other Shakespearean actors. There is a strange connection to Othello and Iago and an aspiring actor hoping to play Edmund in The Tragedy of King Lear. Wolfe explains it all in the final meeting with his clients, of course. In “Archie and Nero Learned to Talk Like Me” we meet an aspiring writer who explains almost all there is to know (he thinks) about Rex Stout’s writing – and why Nero Wolfe isn’t listed In the Manhattan phone directory. In “What I learned at the Brownstone,” we learn why Rex Stout can be listed as one of the finest mystery writers of the past century.
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