MURDER IN E MINOR by Robert Goldsborough


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With the ""cooperation and encouragement"" of the Rex Stout estate, first-novelist Goldsborough has put Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin back in business: this is a near-remarkable replica of a bona fide Stout mystery--one that's splendid in duplicating the Wolfe/Goodwin style and atmosphere, but pretty much a fizzle when it comes to the mystery-puzzle. Wolfe's new client (after a long self-imposed retirement) is lovely young Maria Radovich--who comes to the famed sleuth in a tizzy about her uncle, Milan Stevens, conductor of the New York Symphony, who has been receiving anonymous death threats. And indeed, before Wolfe can give the case due consideration, Stevens is murdered, stabbed to death in his apartment. Whodunit? Was it Maria's fiancÉ, a musician whom Uncle Milan persecuted? Or one of the Symphony bigwigs whom Stevens (a tactless egomaniac) had alienated? The answer, when it comes, is a dim notion out of left field. And all of the suspects, in fact, make an ill-motivated, lackluster impression. But Archie's legwork along the way (involving doormen and hookers as well as classy Symphony types) is as brightly efficient as ever. More important, Archie's narration here is a pitch-perfect echo of the very readable real thing: the laconic Runyonesquerie, the details of life on a W. 35th St. that never existed (orchids, cuisine, etc.), the endearingly familiar cast of characters--including lots of Lily Rowan as well as a completely convincing, non-caricatured Nero Wolfe. (One daring, effective touch: the murder victim is a figure out of Wolfe's distant past, which is teasingly explored.) A disappointment for readers expecting top-notch mystery, then, but most Stout fans will find this a loving, knowledgeable, mightily pleasing re-creation.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Bantam