THE BATTERED BADGE by Robert Goldsborough


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Nero Wolfe goes to work on behalf of the most unlikely person ever: Inspector Lionel T. Cramer, head of NYPD Homicide.

It’s not bad enough that Lester Pierce, executive director of the Good Government Group, has been gunned down in front of his Park Avenue co-op; since Pierce had been vocally critical of Cramer, the inspector’s put on administrative leave and replaced with Capt. George Rowcliff, Wolfe’s least favorite cop. It’s hard to believe that things could get worse, but they do. When Wolfe, who’d love to see Cramer, despite their differences over the years (Murder, Stage Left, 2017, etc.), back on the job, asks nonpareil operative Saul Panzer to make some discreet inquiries, they’re not discreet enough to keep Saul from getting beaten up by a pair of thugs who can’t believe this guy thought the Pierce killing could have been a mob hit. His dander up, Wolfe has his faithful legman, Archie Goodwin, make the rounds of the most likely suspects who aren’t mobbed-up: Pierce’s dry-eyed widow, Audra Kingston Pierce; their well-to-do children, Malcolm, Marianne, and Mark; Malcolm's and Mark’s wives; and Roland Marchbank and Laura Cordwell, both of whom had reason to believe they’d succeed Pierce as boss of Three–G. Long before a client willing to pay Wolfe emerges from the shadows, Cramer’s been spotted in a restaurant meeting with underworld kingpin Ralph Mars; it’s only a matter of time before news of the meeting gets out, sinking Cramer even deeper. The good news for longtime fans of Rex Stout’s corpulent detective is that Goldsborough’s Wolfe really does sound like Wolfe; the bad news is that many other characters—especially Archie, who spends most of his time on the phone with New York Gazette writer/editor Lon Cohen—sound like him, too.

As usual, the characters are forgettable, the mystery perfunctory, and the solution unremarkable. But Goldsborough works a nifty change on the climactic gathering of suspects for the big reveal that’s worth the price of admission all on its own.

Pub Date: April 17th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5040-4910-8
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2018


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