This was a collection of three Nero Wolfe short stories that I picked up at a local used book shop. Each of the stories features the regular cast of characters – Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, Inspector Cramer, and so on – and the stories follow the not-exactly-contiguous continuity that Rex Stout adopted after the first few books. The stories were first published in the early 1960’s, but they could easily be re-set anywhere from the 40’s to the 70’s.
The first story, “Kill Now, Pay Later”, has a fun method for roping Wolfe in to the case: the man who shines his shoes is unjustly accused of murder, and he sets to work in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to find a new bootblack. Seriously. His motivation is a balance between his native laziness and his hatred of having to deal with new people. It’s less exertion for him to solve a crime than it is for him to find someone new to shine his shoes.
Next up, “Murder is Corny”, which starts out by assaulting Wolfe’s sensibilities in a different way: the farmer who he pays to supply him with fresh sweet corn sends over an unacceptable shipment. Not long after that, Inspector Cramer shows up to interrogate and eventually detain Archie about the death of the farmhand who delivered the corn. The under-ripe corn, of course, is the key clue to solve the murder.
Finally, “Blood Will Tell”, which starts off with Archie receiving a bloodstained silk necktie in the mail. His investigation leads him into a twisted family drama complete with a dead body and multiple accusations of infidelity and murder.
Total Pages: 9986