Saturday, December 3, 2011

Listened: "Death of a Dude" by Rex Stout

Listened: Death of a Dude by Rex Stout, 1969, from

Archie is on summer vacation in Montana at a dude ranch owned by a friend from Manhattan, Lily Rowan. Lily's ranch manager is arrested for the murder of a visiting dude from St. Louis. The same dude who knocked up the manager's teenage daughter last year. Archie is sure the manager is innocent and decides to stay and investigate the case. He mails a letter Wolfe saying he will be indefinitely delayed in returning to Manhattan. Wolfe cannot cope without Archie. Wolfe actually packs up and flies to Montana.

Wolfe shows up and Archie immediately starts needling him. About his weight, having to shake hands, wearing a vest, etc. Wolfe's discomfort away from home is clear, and even worse, women are there. I'm sure academic papers have been written and deep fan discussions occurred on whether Wolfe is gay. I don't think so. I think he is just a curmudgeon.

Locals are not helpful to a "dude" and Archie has gotten nowhere in his investigation.. Archie gives Wolfe the verbatim replay of every interview Archie has had. Wolfe cogitates and grunts and inspects the larder. Wolfe works hard at being mannerly. The local Sheriff is incompetent. His Deputy is even dumber. Another man is killed and Archie is jailed. Everything turns out fine in the end. Wolfe gets to reveal all by announcing the killer and what happened to the Sheriff, Deputy and a cop from St. Louis.

1. The manager's daughter seduced and impregnated by the slick talking stranger. The poor innocent girl, cruelly taken advantage of. Oh. Really? How dated is that kind of thinking? Another topic for argument.
2. Archie's sex life is alluded to in the novels but never made clear. He could be a playboy or he could be a social butterfly.
3. Montana sounds nice in the summer. There was a job opening at Montana State University Northern in 2004 when I was job hunting. I never applied because it was too remote for traveling to visit family.

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