Are you tired of my reviews of old books yet? Sorry; I can't help it. They're the ones that speak to me, and if I wanted reading to be a chore instead of a joy, I'd pick up a Dickens tome and slog through it, so I could claim to be "cultured" and "sophisticated" or whatever other adjectives might be applied to such reading. (There must be a reason Dickens has to be assigned reading in school, and I doubt that it's because ol' Charlie is the life of the party.)
THE RUBBER BAND
Yes! A Nero Wolfe Mystery! Found at the used book sale a couple of weeks back, I knew that this had to be the first thing I read.
Nero Wolfe has a set schedule, and it cannot be disturbed for any reason. To this schedule, he has decided he must add exercise - perhaps his 1/7th of a ton of weight bothered him - and so Darts is scheduled for 15 minutes daily. (Pub-crawlers, rejoice! Darts is exercise!) During his daily exercise one Sunday in October, his faithful assistant Archie noticed an article about the Marquis of Clivers visiting Washington and New York. This is not significant, other than the fact that Archie wanted Wolfe to be interviewed by the author of said piece in order to increase business; to emphasize this, Archie pinned the article to the dartboard with one of Nero Wolfe's darts.
The next day, Nero Wolfe had two appointments scheduled. The first was with the head of a company from which $30,000 cash had gone missing from a drawer; the second was with an unknown female with a voice that made Archie want to see her in person, who wouldn't give her name. She spun a fabulous yarn about her father and four other men being owed a significant sum of money by a man missing half an ear to whom they had sold a horse back in the 1890s, when they were all working as miners and one needed to escape. Her father was dead, but she had rounded up three of the four other people so they could try to collect the debt, from a man who was now none other than the Marquis of Clivers. This lady was also accused of stealing the $30,000. Nero Wolfe declined to investigate for the company, instead choosing to work for the lady with the debt, that case being considerably more interesting.
A couple of murders, a police raid on Nero Wolfe's house, hiding witnesses; this book is great. Rex Stout must have been a genius, because, writing during the Depression, he wrote witty, sometimes humorous stories about topics where wit would seemingly have no place. His books are always written from Archie's point of view, leaving the reader guessing what Nero Wolfe has deduced in order to solve the mystery. The book is readily available, in case any of you want to read it. Thor would approve.