Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Three Witnesses

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Three Witnesses (Viking, 1956).

I seem to be about a year in and halfway through my complete reading of the Nero Wolfe stories, and while I certainly prefer the longer novels and their twists and turns, sometimes one of the short stories provides a nice surprise. Three Witnesses collects three novellas from the mid-fifties, and the first of them might be my favorite of that length that I've found so far.

"The Next Witness" is a very fun story which starts with Nero Wolfe furiously out of his comfort zone. He's been subpoenaed to appear in court at the trial of a man who had attempted to hire him, and who is now accused of murder. Incensed that his testimony will be used to help convict a man that Wolfe believes to be innocent, he chooses to bolt, risking a contempt charge and being arrested by a police force that would just love to rub his arrogant face in it. I had a ball with every page of this one.

The other stories were also quite good, although I personally would have preferred that they had been placed before "The Next Witness" so I would not have compared them unfavorably. There's a good yarn about accidental bigamy, and one where Archie brings home a dog and intends to aggravate his boss with its presence, only to have it backfire on the one hand and prove critical to a murder case on the other. They were all very fun, and I see that both "The Next Witness" and "Die Like a Dog" were adapted for the A&E TV series. I'd love to check those out sometime. Recommended.

No comments: