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Might As Well Be Dead (1980)

Might as Well Be Dead (1980)
4.02 of 5 Votes: 2
0553029525 (ISBN13: 9780553029529)
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Might As Well Be Dead (1980)
Might As Well Be Dead (1980)

About book: In Might as Well Be Dead, Wolfe is hired by a Nebraska businessman to find his son, Paul Herald. The older Herald had exiled his son eleven years earlier on the belief his son had stolen $11,000 from the business but had since learned that someone else committed the theft. He turns to Wolfe as a last result after having contacted the police and submitting a classified ad to get his attention.Because Herald had monogramed luggage that he took with him, Wolfe supposed the that Paul retained the same initials and so ordered a display ad taken out, address to PH and written in a way that Wolfe felt would be more likely to gain a response as he promises to help PH clear his name of the crime he was falsely accused of without forcing him to renewing any bonds he'd renounced. Wolfe gets a response all right because a P.H. is on trial for murder and several people think Wolfe is going to intervene in the Peter Hayes murder trial. Looking at the newspaper picture, both Wolfe and Archie dismiss the possibility of Peter Hayes being Paul Herald, but after Hayes' attorney pays the brownstone a visit, Archie believes an in-person examination is in order. When Archie sees Hayes' expression he's almost certain that Hayes and Herald are one and the same.With the help of Herald's lawyer, Archie gets an in-person interview that cinches it, but Herald begs Archie not to reveal his true identity for fear of the pain it would cause his mother and sisters.Wolfe faces a dilemma and decides not to tell his client but to press ahead, find the truth, clear Paul Herald of the crime and then report to his client once he's cleared his son.What follows is an amazing series of twists and surprises, of mysteries inside mysteries that represent the series at its best. Every recurring character is in top form, particularly Wolfe. Wolfe has no relapses to speak of, though he does reach a point where he believes that he's found enough information so the police can wrap it up, but Cramer lets him know that's not the case. The story takes on an added human element with the murder of a detective working for Wolfe, Johnny Keems. Might as Well Be Dead showcases Wolfe's humanity and sense of justice is on full display (as much as it ever is) right up and to Wolfe's magnanimous gesture at the end of the book. Might as Well Be Dead is also interesting for the number of times that a prior Wolfe novel is mentioned. Archie brings up an incident from Fer-de-Lance to a couple different witnesses. Stebens mentions one from, The Red Box. And Archie tells us that the kids in the neighborhood have viewed Wolfe's house with suspicion since, in The Golden Spiders, twelve year old Pete Drosos obtained a meeting with Wolfe and was then murdered. 23 books into the Wolfe canon, the series was clearly becoming an American Cliassic, and this one is a crowning achievement.Very satisfactory

Stout’s long-running riff on Sherlock Holmes is brilliant fun. In some seventy books and novellas written from 1934 to Stout’s death in 1975, Nero Wolfe is the brainy detective, Archie Goodwin his sidekick and housemate who writes up the stories. They are wonderfully readable entertainments, written in impeccably clean and propulsive prose. The usual setting is the great world city that was New York during Wolfe’s career, where Wolfe lives in an old brownstone from which he seldom stirs. He lives by a rigid schedule, affording ample time for the cultivation of orchids in his rooftop plant rooms, for reading and gourmandizing, and, occasionally, for some grudging detective work. Goodwin is cut from altogether livelier cloth, a gumshoe as resourceful as any of Chandler’s or Hammett’s, and his repartee improves on Marlowe’s or Spade’s.Better Off Dead, from 1956, displays Stout’s virtues. A rich man flies to New York and hires Wolfe to find his missing son. Wolfe (or anyway, Archie) does the job handily, but there are complications, the solution to which involve much entertaining coursing across the city, meeting the as usual not very edifying cast of characters, and ending with Wolfe’s characteristic inquest, whereby the principals are brought his office for a set piece of rigorous logic which concludes with his producing the villain. Stout makes use as good as Doyle of his city setting, and his plots, if less fanciful and weird than Holmes’s creator’s, are ingenious and satisfying. The reader here is not invited to solve the mystery; the crime’s underlying reasons are discovered too late in the book for that. But at the end, order of a particularly comfortable and deep-textured sort is restored.
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Kate K. F.
Might as Well Be Dead is an incredibly compelling Nero Wolfe because one of the main characters is in jail and choosing to not be found. Wolfe is hired by a relative to try and find this person as well as by someone who cares for them. The mystery is complicated but what makes this such a good book is how real all of the characters are and how they have to figure out what they want. I'd recommend this to someone who is curious about Nero Wolfe since the mystery, characters and interactions are wonderful.As with all Nero Wolfe's, there are a number of murders and the characters act as fits in with an earlier time. Archie is good with women but some older ideas come through.
I would like to start my review with a question which should be very easy for any serious fan of mysteries. What would happen if you cross this: with this: and with this: The almost but not quite right answer would be a lazy hippo with good crime-solving skills. The right answer would be Nero Wolfe of cause.This time a wealthy businessman (only very wealthy people can afford the fees Wolfe charges for his services) from Omaha asked the detective to find his son who disappeared 11 years ago after being unjustly accused of theft by his father. It only took 11 years for the latter to realize the truth and he now wants to correct his mistake. Nobody knew that this seemingly simple, but hopeless search would lead to a lot of dead bodies. One of the interesting features of the series is that Rex Stout is not afraid to kill recurring characters. This novel is one example of this: I already mentioned a lot of dead bodies and its count is very high for an installment of the series and this time one of the familiar characters will supply his/her own. The plot is fast-moving and Archie Goodwin had not lost his sense of humor and wisecracking. I thought about giving 5 stars as the rating, but this time Nero Wolfe was not too impressive with his mental deductions (it is more about action here), so 4 stars it is.
Anirban Das
The book was the first Rex Stout novel, featuring Nero Wolfe, I have read. I had heard a lot about the author, high recommendations, which were justified, as he was nominated for the greatest Mystery Writer of the Century, and his series the Best Mystery Series of The Century at Bouchercon 2000, the world's largest mystery convention.The book starts when Wolfe gets a visit from James Herold asking him to find him his son, Paul Herold. The son was banished from his family and business when he was caught stealing money from his dad’s business. Now, on the behest of his mother, the dad wants his son back, and he has also unearthed evidences which points to the fact that may be Paul Herold was innocent of the embezzlement. So, Wolfe starts his search and finds himself in the midst of dead bodies, one of them belonging to a colleague of his.The book was set in 1956, now I always felt that as a man in 2012, I was not comfortable with the language used in the book. Nowadays we have got accustomed to short paragraphs and shorter sentences, and here I was barged with half a page paragraphs, and mile long sentences. It was a daunting task, to keep the track of the plot. The language was muddling it up for me.Even if I could have ignored the grammar, I was hit with the sheer abundance of characters. There were a lots of them, in this book, and with huge paragraphs, and more than one character appearing in one paragraph, things were bound to get muddled, and they did.And, lastly the plot didn’t make any sense to me. Too much emphasis on pure coincidence, bordering on the impossible. A convict, who had his decision pending the very next day, after Wolfe is contacted by Herold Sr., turning out to be the person being searched for, is the epitome of coincidence.Maybe, this was not the best of Stout’s work. A man doesn’t get nominated for Best Mystery Writer by writing this stuff. So, will be waiting for my next Rex Stout novel, to get in touch with a real masterpiece.
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