Saturday, November 26, 2011

Listened: "Before Midnight" by Rex Stout

Listened: Before Midnight by Rex Stout, 1955 (according to wikipedia - which I refuse to capitalize), downloaded from OverDrive.

I was striking out on available audio titles on OverDrive. I had not listened to any Nero Wolfe stories in quite a while. Several years ago, in Kansas I think, I went through a bunch of the audiotapes. This digital copy was recorded off the cassettes and had prompts every thirty minutes to "Turn the tape over". My mind tends to wander when listening to these. I think Stout used a good amount of padding.

Archie wants to hit the town. He pesters Wolfe to try and get Wolfe to let him out early. Part of the conversation includes Archie telling Wolfe about a trivia contest sponsored by a perfume company. Archie fields a call from an advertising agency demanding access to Wolfe. The agency is in charge of the aforementioned trivia contest.

Writer of the contest clues is murdered after announcing to the five remaining finalists that he holds the answers in his wallet. dead guy's wallet goes missing. There are plenty of suspects for Archie to visit and Wolfe to be perturbed by. (What's a preposition?) The contest winners, angry husbands, and advert agency partners all had reason to get rid of the dead guy.

Archie investigates. Wolfe grunts. The cops are angry. The suspects are demanding, or wilting, or confident. All are gathered for a showdown in Wolfe's office. The bar in Wolfe's office is impressive. The bar in Wolfe's office helps lead to murder in his office. Wolfe is upset. The cops are upset. Many people are upset.

Wolfe hires the usual gang of on-call PIs to go to the ad agency and investigate deeper. The showdown takes place with all the advert agency partners. Justice is served. Wolfe gets a fat paycheck. Wolfe is fat.

1. Perturbed. That's a word from my parents.
2. There were a couple comments or events in the story that really dated this in the 1955 setting. I do not recall what they were.


Golden Spider said...

The question is what is the padding: the mystery plot or the World of Wolfe. Yes some things are dated. Phone booths comes to mind for starters.

But what the heck. Most Wolfe readers go back again and again because they love to visit the brownstone.

Gerard Saylor said...

I have a second Stout book waiting to listen to.

While listening to this one I was, again, thinking I should find a floorplan for the brownstone. I am sure someone, at some time, developed one.