Thursday, December 2, 2010

Death on Deadline

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 Death on Deadline (Bantam, 1987).

Fifty years in his New York City brownstone and apparently not having aged a day, Nero Wolfe confronted the late '80s trends of newspaper bias and international, jet-set media robber barons in Robert Goldsborough's second continuation novel with the character. This time out, Wolfe elects to stick his nose in when Ian MacLaren, a Maxwell / Murdoch type from Scotland, not content with ruining a dozen newspapers already, sets his sights on The New York Gazette, the paper that employs the detective firm's friend, Lon Cohen.

Certain tricks work within a series, and it's not surprising when, after Wolfe makes a big public stink about his loathing of this Scottish tycoon, somebody ends up dead and the police figure Wolfe either knows more about the situation than he's letting on, or he's interfering in hopes of a fat paycheck from somewhere. So without a client and without a retainer, Wolfe, determined that an alleged suicide is no such thing, digs further into the mess, driving Archie to distraction. Poor Archie is the definition of "long-suffering" in this one.

Very much a novel of its time, I was easily able to picture the entitled, spoiled heirs to the Gazette fortune looking just like the younger members of the Carrington clan from Dynasty, all shoulder pads and giant hair. I'd love to see a 1987-set television adaptation of it, actually! Entertaining and amusing, it probably has a tongue in cheek tone a little unlike Stout's work on the series, but it's a good follow-up all the same.

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