Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Final Deduction

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of The Final Deduction (Viking, 1961).

As I'm moving into the "home stretch" of Rex Stout's novels, I find that I'm not wanting to alternate with other writers. I'm enjoying them enough that I'd like to just try and get them all finished before the end of October. Should be doable.

So The Final Deduction is from 1961 and sees Wolfe and Archie hired to consult on a ransom case. It seems to turn out all right - half a million is paid and Althea Vail's kidnapped husband is returned, but when a member of the household staff turns up dead, the family has to confront the unpleasant reality that the kidnapper had inside help. But then just two days after he is returned safely, Jimmy Vail is killed, crushed to death by a fallen statue of Benjamin Franklin, and Inspector Cramer wants to know what Archie was doing at the Vail's house earlier on the night the man died...

I really enjoyed the way that this novel got increasingly complicated, and how Wolfe keeps stirring trouble, and infuriating Cramer, by accepting a commission from one of the Vails' children to find the ransom money. Honestly, this one started a little dry - I can't imagine many readers finding Althea Vail as being either very sympathetic or very engaging - but I was enjoying it tremendously by the time I finished. Perhaps not the meatiest of Wolfe adventures, but a very welcome distraction. Recommended.

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