Fans who rejoice in Estleman’s deep knowledge and obvious love of Stout’s oeuvre and his infectious playfulness will demand...

NEARLY NERO

The chronicler of shamus Amos Walker (Don’t Look for Me, 2014, etc.) and film preservationist Valentino (Brazen, 2016, etc.) rounds up 10 stories, all but one of them reprints from 2008-16, about a seemingly clueless Nero Wolfe wannabe who always gets his man anyway.

Claudius Lyon has patterned himself so completely on Rex Stout’s celebrated detective that he’s even changed his name from whatever it was before he began advertising as an investigator who never charged for his services—because if he did, Capt. Stoddard of Brooklyn Bunco would arrest him in a New York minute—and hired ex-con Arnie Woodbine as his legman just because his name sounded like Archie Goodwin’s. The differences between the master and his acolyte are manifold. Lyon is fat, all right, but much shorter and less prepossessing than Wolfe; he lives in “a Bizarro version of Nero Wolfe’s brownstone” in Brooklyn, raises tomatoes (orchids are beyond his limited horticultural skills), eats kosher meals prepared by his Yiddish-speaking chef, Gus, and hides his reading material—Minute Mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown—behind a formidable copy of Crime and Punishment. None of the 10 soufflés collected here involves murder; half of their solutions depend on atrocious wordplay (the short-short “Wolfe on the Roof” reveals mercilessly how threadbare this tactic is when it’s not plumped out with the domestic detail that will hook Stout fans and keep them tittering); and reading them all at a sitting, as you’ll be sorely tempted to do, is like downing 20 pounds of cotton candy.

Fans who rejoice in Estleman’s deep knowledge and obvious love of Stout’s oeuvre and his infectious playfulness will demand more adventures of the man who perpetually asks himself “WWND (What Would Nero Do?)”—if only the author can come up with more punning story titles (“Wolfe at the Door”?).

Pub Date: May 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5072-0327-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Tyrus Books

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Droll and charming, with more romantic shenanigans than a French farce.

IRISH GILT

A slyly humorous look at the trouble Notre Dame alumni get into when they cavort with non–South Bend types.

Boris Henry and Xavier Kittock, roommates from the class of ’74, once shared two interests: Father John Zahm’s 1914–15 letters and diary concerning his South American search for El Dorado, and Clare, Boris’s beautiful assistant. Then their interests diverged: Boris the gambler was intent on establishing a Zahm Institute at Notre Dame, whose centerpiece would be the diary the priest sold them. Xavier, known as Eggs, wanted to use the diary to mount a quest for the El Dorado gold. When the letters and diary disappear, Boris blames Eggs and relies on the Knight brothers—Roger, a Nero Wolfe–sized scholar, and Phil, a very selective private eye (Irish Coffee, 2003, etc.)—to deliver the goods. Everything points to Eggs until he slumps dead on a park bench in the middle of the night, perhaps from a heart attack but more likely from more sinister causes. Theories fly, including one accusing a jealous husband, and several others proposed by the old geezers at the university club. Eventually, Roger assembles the puzzle pieces, trumping the South Bend cops, campus security and even his brother, to the immense relief of the university archivist.

Droll and charming, with more romantic shenanigans than a French farce.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-33688-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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TEN LITTLE BLOODHOUNDS

Ten Little Bloodhounds ($24.00; Jun.; 288 pp.; 0-06-017548-6): If a bloodhound trainer as expert as Jo Beth Sidden could find wealthy eccentric Alyce Cancannon’s missing cat Amelia in record time, doesn’t it make sense to hire her to investigate Miz Alyce’s murder? The Cancannon lawyers think so, and fans of the sour Georgia peach’s four previous cases (Blind Bloodhound Justice, 1998, etc.) will be happy that, like Jo Beth, they didn’t proceed along normal channels.

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-017548-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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