When a loudmouthed, arrogant author is silenced, the reclusive master detective Nero Wolfe looks for the killer: “A very clever mystery . . . A masterly job” (Booklist).
The gun was fired close to Charles Childress’s head, and his were the only fingerprints on it, forcing the police to conclude that the author committed suicide. But his friends know this is impossible, because Childress loved himself far too much. He had just begun attracting fame, writing new mysteries starring the iconic Sergeant Barnstable, and he had bright hopes for the future. His publisher hires corpulent genius Nero Wolfe to determine who cut Childress’s career short, and the detective finds no dearth of suspects. Among the many who may have wanted the wordsmith whacked are his agent, his editor, a corrupt book reviewer, and an enraged legion of Barnstable devotees. With the help of his indefatigable assistant, Archie Goodwin, Wolfe takes a look at those closest to the arrogant, argumentative author, hoping to decide which of Childress’s associates merely hated him, and which would have been willing to kill.
Life imitates art imitates life. In his seventh Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin caper, the writer responsible for continuing the noted series after the death of originator Rex Stout plots a case around the corpse of an author who has continued a mystery series after the original writer's demise. A publisher hires Wolfe and Goodwin to investigate the death, labeled a suicide, of Charles Childress, an ill-tempered author who had recently angered several people, including his agent, his editor and the possibly corrupt reviewer who had lambasted the latest Childress novel. Yet for all that, Childress also had a pretty fiancee, a loyal friend in a fellow author and the devotion of many fans. Goldsborough carefully draws Wolfe and company into the '90s (computers figure in the plot and hold records of Wolfe's beloved orchids), yet the corpulent sleuth still abandons himself to Fritz Brenner's high-fat meals. As always, Archie does the legwork, which in this instance takes him to rural Indiana, Childress's home state, to unearth secrets that Wolfe pieces together in an assured and effective conclusion. Goldsborough ( Fade to Black ) may not recruit new fans to the anachronistic and bulky Wolfe, but he's likely to satisfy the old Rex Stout faithful.