So this week I’m reading Before Midnight, a Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout, which is one of the few Stout books that was not included in the box of paperback Wolfe mysteries that I received a year or two ago from my dad.
Unlike most in the series, in Before Midnight, Wolfe is primarily concerned with solving a theft (of a wallet, which may or may not have contained the answers to a contest in which hundreds of thousands of dollars is at stake) rather than a murder, although there is a murder, of course. Can’t have a Wolfe book without somebody getting bumped off. Otherwise Cramer wouldn’t have an excuse to drop by.
Assa looked at me. He glanced at the refreshment table, came back to me, and said, “There’s a bottle of Pernod there. That’s my drink. Could I have some?”
I said certainly and asked if he wanted ice, and he said no. I took him the Pernod and an Old-Fashioned glass, and he poured two fingers as plump as his own, and darned if he didn’t toss it off as if it were a jigger of bourbon. I’m not a Pernod drinker, but there is such a thing as common sense.
Not even avec de l’eau, eh, Assa? At least Archie isn’t a snooty French waiter.
Before Midnight is not to be confused with the Ethan Hawke film of the same name.
For one thing, Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe would never be caught dead tooling around Greece. Not unless they were trying to catch the person who, say, murdered Wolfe’s cook, Fritz, and then fled to Europe. (NOTE: This never happened. But if it did, you can be sure Wolfe would hunt the killer down wherever he went. Murdering Wolfe’s childhood best friend would be nothing compared to murdering his personal chef.)
Meanwhile, speaking of murder and whatnot, editing continues on Father’s Books. In this scene, Richard is having a discussion with a local homicide detective following a suspicious death on the premises.
Art wrote it all down in his ubiquitous little notebook, including the name and last known address. Finally he closed the book and put it away and looked around the kitchen and said, “So what are you going to do with this palatial estate, Richard?”
“Oh God. Am I allowed to burn it down?”
Allowed? No. But if you can get away with it, sure, why not.