Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trouble in Triplicate

Hero: Nero Wolfe
His loyal assistant: Archie Goodwin

Trouble in Triplicate is a collection of three short stories: "Before I Die," "Help Wanted, Male," and "Instead of Innocence."  They aren't connected in any way, other than being Nero Wolfe mysteries.  The first tells the story of a mobster needing protection for his daughter.  He comes to Wolfe because he can't take care of the matter in his usual way.  The second is, as described by one of the players, a farce involving a death threat and subsequent murder.  Wolfe is "not interested, not involved, and not curious" until he receives his own death threat in the mail.  Even if it was a farce, Archie's narration alone made the story delicious:

"I had just pushed the button when who should appear, mounting the steps to join us on the stoop, but the Army officer that they use for a model when they want to do a picture conveying the impression  that masculine comeliness will win the war.  I admit he was handsome; I admitted it to myself right then, when I first saw him." [page 96]

The third story features a husband [Eugene] and wife who come into Wolfe's office and hire him to make sure Eugene's business partner is arrested for Eugene's upcoming murder.  (It's not every day a person can use the phrase "upcoming murder" in a sentence.)  Wolfe had a quotable line in this one:

"'Do your typing.  I like to hear you typing.  If you are typing you can't talk.'" [page 162]

Archie's narration continued to delight me:

"The bell was ringing again, and that irritates me, so I went and got him.  He was wearing his raincoat and his determined look.  I relieved him of the former in the hall and let him take the latter on into the office." [page 174]

Mr. Stout's sense of humor appeals to me in so many ways.

I don't like rating books by a star or number system, so here's my rating system:
Bad=Quit reading the book
Fair=It was okay; I finished it
Good=I liked it
Great=I loved it; definitely would enjoy re-reading it someday

Rating for Trouble in Triplicate: Great

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