The Final Deduction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels are one of the more unique entrants into the mystery genre. Combining the intellectual acumen of a Sherlock Holmes (Wolfe) with the hard-boiled street smarts of a Sam Spade (Archie Goodwin), the novels are a treat to the ears, especially for lovers of good dialogue.
In The Final Deduction, Archie, the narrator, is in peak form. From badgering Wolfe into working (twice!) to convincing a wishy-washy client to show some spine (by lying about his--Archie's--mother!), the patter never slows down. Stout also likes to set up Wolfe's routine and then break it, and does so here by having Wolfe and Archie decamp for 24 hours to earn a fee. Archie's one-paragraph description of Wolfe's travails during the absence from home (he has to use soap that smells of tuberoses instead of geraniums!) is mournful and sarcastic in a manner that is pure Stout.
If there's any knock on this novel, and there is, it is the plot is pedestrian, easily deduced by the reader, and seems--more than most Wolfe novels--to be a perfunctory vehicle for the characters. Of course, it is those characters we love, and The Final Deduction is full of them. There are precious few Stout books I would actually recommend against reading, and this one is certainly not one of them. Enjoy deducing your way through The Final Deduction!
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