Friday, October 14, 2011
Friday's Forgotten Books: THE SILENT SPEAKER by Rex Stout
Well, maybe not so much forgotten, since I reread this all the time. But for those few of us not familiar with Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, it may qualify not only as forgotten but overlooked. If you know my reading tastes, you know I am a devoted Nero Wolfe groupie, so here we go.
Friday's Forgotten Books is a weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE.
Don't forget to check in and see what other forgotten books, other bloggers are chatting about today.
THE SILENT SPEAKER is another of Stout's devilishly plotted, NYC tales of multiple murder. One of which, to Wolfe and Archie's acute chagrin, happens on the brownstone's very doorstep while a high level meeting between suspects, the cops and Wolfe, is going on inside. Not only that, but it happens to a particularly intriguing character.
This time out it is especially hard for Archie who had been enthralled by the victim. It is interesting to see Archie non-plussed.
Not that Wolfe, notoriously lazy, wants to go to work, but the exchequer is barren at the moment. Barely enough to pay Archie's salary, let alone maintain the luxurious orchid-central lifestyle of his boss. PLUS, there's those pesky quarterly taxes to pay.
So, work Wolfe must.
I call it Operation Payroll. That name for the preliminary project, the horning-in campaign, was not, I admit, strictly accurate. In addition to the salaries of Fritz Brenner, Charley the cleaning man, Theodore Horstmann the orchid tender, and me, the treasury had to provide for other items too numerous to mention. But on the principle of putting first things first, I called it Operation Payroll.
It was Friday morning before we caught the fish we were after.
The Boone Case was the big fish, Wolfe and Archie were trawling for.
Cheney Boone, Director of the government's Bureau of Price Regulation had been invited to make a speech at a dinner of the National Industrial Association - two groups who are perpetually at each others' throats - in the Grand Ballroom of the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel. About 1500 people in attendance.
While going over his notes and waiting to make his entrance in a side room off stage, he is brutally murdered.
Eventually, by Wolfe and Archie's clever machinations, Wolfe is called upon to solve the case which almost gets Inspector Cramer a one way ticket to palooka-ville.