Friday, February 07, 2020



Although I was warned that this was an atypical Rex Stout novel, I had read enough of his books 25 years ago to be in the mood to read something different. And in many ways, it was a good choice. Wolfe steps out of his brownstone, out of his country, and out of his typical "you do the footwork, Archie and I'll do the brain work." setup
But in other ways,  since it had been so long, I wanted that familiar setup. I am not even sure a man of Wolfe's girth and sloth could undertake this trip. But let's say he can.
But getting to the story...
When Nero Wolfe's close friend, a restaurateur is killed, followed by Wolfe's adopted daughter, the reason clearly lies in Montenegro (where both were involved in a protest movement), so much to all of our surprise, Nero abandons his usual methods of solving crimes and goes there, undertaking a difficult passage through the mountains. This is in 1954 and the geopolitics is difficult with Tito in power.
It was hard to know who your enemies were and indeed, Wolfe does not. This is not a whodunnit as much as it is how will Wolfe trip him up. And the real genius in it is that Stout gets to prove he could have written spy novels with as much grace as his mysteries. I enjoyed it but it was not as good as Fer De Lance, The League of Frightened Men or Too Many Cooks for me.
One review suggested that this was a way for Stout to clear out two characters that had been hanging around too long. I wonder.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

First Wednesday Book Revew; THE CHESTNUT MAN

 THE CHESTNUT MAN is a Danish thriller written by Soren Sveistrup, who was the voice behind THE KILLING, a very successful TV series. This is as dark if not darker than that. And it is very hard to give you a synopsis without spoilers.

Women are dying and on their mutilated bodies are placed a primitive doll made from a chestnut. The deaths seems to have begun with the kidnapping of a Danish government official's child. Although the body of that child has not been found, it is assumed she is dead. As the official returns to work, the killings begin. They seemed linked to child abuse cases. And oddly, fingerprints on each chestnut man are from the kidnapped child.

Two Danish cops are assigned to the case and both are quirky and thus have trouble forging a team. They are fun to watch in action and give some respite from the horrors of the case.

This is a  page-turner but a very long one. I think some judicious cutting would have made a stronger book. But I did keep turning the pages so I certainly recommend it to those brave enough for Nordic Noir. I am sure this will be on TV before you can finish the book though.

For more Wednesday reviews, see Barrie Summy. 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Things That Are Making Me Happy

I saw the Animated and Live Action Short nominations for the Oscar and although universally well-done, boy they were a depressing group of films. I remember thinking that last year and the year before. But how could they not be? Next weekend I see the short docs. Sure they will be just as sad. Finally had some sun today. Must be averaging 6/7 days cloudy. But the temps have not been bad. Of course, that is also not good news for climate change.
Trying to read Witch Elm by Tana French but it so slow going. It takes her ten pages to walk a man across the room. Yes, the writing is good, very good, but please don't fall in love with your words so much. But all of her books are like this and either you go with it or you don't. I usually do.
Getting ready for Florida now. Fingers crossed for good weather and no health or terrorist scares.
And thank god for my brother who is doing my taxes. So lucky to have him. Phil always did them and I just signed my name. I lived a lot of my life like that I find out now. Most of it, I am able to do now but taxes scare me off.
What about you?