Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Final Deduction by Rex Stout

I bought this paperback in 1968 because of the cover photograph of a briefcase and the Walther PPK. The image was intentionally meant to evoke a link to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and the James Bond films. Every kid in 1968 knew that James Bond carried the Walther PPK, and the film From Russia With Love had popularized the idea of a gimmick-laden briefcase. Fortunately, I was a skilled reader and knew this wasn’t James Bond, but I wanted to read The Final Deduction anyway, and so this book became my introduction to Rex Stout. Published by Penguin, this paperback cost me fifty cents. I was hooked. Super-sleuth Nero Wolfe possessed the cerebral qualities of Sherlock Holmes, and his sidekick Archie Goodwin may not have been James Bond, but he was still a tough guy. I was already writing my own stories, and I had even sent a story proposal to film director Alfred Hitchcock, which his secretary kindly rejected. My disappointment was eased somewhat by the “autographed” photo she sent me. Anyway, I became immersed briefly in the paperbacks of Rex Stout. The Final Deduction had an opening that fascinated me. The first line is a piece of dialogue: “Your name, please?” This was followed by the line, “I asked her only as a matter of form.” I had read enough pulp fiction reprints to understand the opening with a girl entering a detective’s office was mandatory, and this terse variation was refreshing. Nero Wolfe himself became less interesting to me as I read additional novels. I viewed him as fat and lazy, and Archie Goodwin was the real hero of the series. The Final Deduction is a kidnapping mystery, made enjoyable by the clean prose. Rex Stout cut his teeth in the pulp magazine market in the 30s and 40s. The Final Deduction is one of the later Nero Wolfe mysteries, originally published in 1961. I have discovered the quality of these books varies, but I have yet to encounter one that is a true clunker. Rex Stout wrote over 30 Nero Wolfe stories between 1934 and his death in 1975.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I apologize for the necessity to moderate comments, but somebody opened the zoo cages and the beasts are running amok!