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Prisoner's Base (1992)

Prisoner's Base (1992)
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4.12 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0553242695 (ISBN13: 9780553242690)
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English
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crimeline
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Prisoner's Base (1992)
Prisoner's Base (1992)

About book: Under normal circumstances, a woman showing up on Wolfe's door looking for a place to stay would be unceremoniously bounced. But if the woman shows up when Wolfe and Archie are in the middle of a standoff, she may end up being escorted inside so Archie can use her to antagonize his employer. The situation is complicated when someone else tries to hire Wolfe to find a missing heiress (the same young lady who just so happens to be upstairs in the South Room). Wolfe's self esteem won't let him accept a fee for finding something that he already has, so he ejects the young woman and gives her a twelve-hour head start before he'll come looking for her. Within three hours, the young woman is dead. Archie feels pretty rotten about the whole situation (having essentially sent the woman to her doom), and vows to catch the murderer, even if means working with--or even for--the police. Which leads to a rather unusual situation: Wolfe takes the case, with Archie as his client.The resolution of this particular mystery involves an assortment of towel-making execs, an attractive stylist of dubious talent, a comely (if slightly nutty and not terribly brave) widow, a handsome young South American, a young Hercules (Archie's description), and a slimy lawyer. There are, of course, an assortment of more familiar faces as well--freelance detective Saul Panzer, chef Fritz Brenner, Inspector Cramer, and Sergent Stebbins.Archie's passion for this particular mystery lends a certain pathos to the story--which is by no means a universal characteristic of Stout's work. Many of Wolfe's jobs are just jobs; this one is personal. Not only does Archie feel responsible for the death of the young heiress; before long another attractive young woman is killed under circumstances that once again lead him to assume at least some responsibility for the untimely demise--particularly since Archie had a certain amount of respect and even fondness for both the young women in question. Archie tends to be fairly flip and irreverent about pretty much everything, including murder, so it's nice to see him actually connect with the story on an emotional level.Also, Wolfe gets hauled downtown by none other than Archie's nemesis, Lieutenant Rowcliff, with the expected results--namely, Wolfe loses his temper and fur flies.The story here is actually pretty good, and the resolution of the mystery is neat and fairly creative. When Wolfe's investigation is not progressing rapidly enough for Archie's taste, Archie's obsession with finding the murderer leads him to offer his services to the police. This, in turn, allows him to be absent from the office and out of the loop with regard to Wolfe's own efforts. The end result is a reveal that is a surprise to the police and to Archie (who usually helps do the revealing).Prichard's narration isn't strong enough to be an added bonus, but he does a decent enough job to make the audiobook a legitimate alternative for those so inclined.

A young woman appears suddenly at Nero Wolfe's brownstone and wants to pay to stay there for ten days. Intolerable! But Wolfe is busy upstairs with his orchids and Archie is angry enough to want to teach Wolfe a lesson, so in she comes. But soon after a man shows up who is searching for that very same girl and needs to find her in ten days. Turns out, she's a heiress and in ten days on her 25th birthday she will inherit quite a lot of money. When this game of Hide and seek becomes deadly, Wolfe and Archie are determined to solve it.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS SPELLED OUT IN BIRTHDAY CANDLES ON A SHEET CAKECover Art - Interesting. It implies a birthday murder cake. But that's not what does the victim in. Guess they couldn't give away too many secrets!A young woman in this house is always a situation for comedy. Of course, Wolfe wants Archie to hurl her out right away. But Archie throws down a challenge that Wolfe cannot refuse - that the lady thinks salt cod cannot be made edible. This keeps our gal in the place for at least until after dinner. She should have confided in Wolfe, though instead of playing at a mystery identity and refusing to give even her name. Alas, she is finally put out before bedtime and, you guessed it, she is murdered. Inspector Cramer brings this back home to roost because Archie's fingerprints are all over her suitcase, which is left by her body.The guardian sure looks like the bad guy and acts the part, but there is no shortage of suspects. There's the rest of the board of directors at her dead father's company and a divorced husband pops up with a paper she signed while they were married giving him half of everything she owns.Why the title? It is a little confusing, but the idea is that it is a game where a kid will try to get from point A to point B without getting tagged. This is a game that Archie played in Ohio as a kid. The original title was to be "Dare Base."
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Reviews
Sparrow
Nero Wolfe is Sherlock Holmes translated into 1950s New York: massively overweight, not ascetically lean; luxurious, not thrifty; a gourmet, not a cokehead. His assistant is a belligerent bully rather than a bumbling doctor. But the assistant is still the narrator (like Dr. Watson). His name is Archie Goodwin: a fabulous, complex name (suggesting that he's arch, but good, yet wins?). Archie is alternately inarticulate and a master of metaphor:"I couldn't deny that the effect Coke and rum had on her was pleasant; it tuned her up..."Every 55 pages another reckless but gorgeous woman appears, to tempt the excruciatingly horny Archie Goodwin.
Erin Germain
Mysteries can leave me either raving or ranting. I'll admit up front, I knew this story before reading, because I was a huge fan of the A&E series, but there were changes in the television show from the book, so some things were new. Even knowing who was going to get bumped off and who the killer was, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was even a little sorry to come to the end. Stout's telling of the story, through Archie Goodwin, is wonderful. We don't know anything that happens until Archie does, and things that occur out of his sight and hearing are only told to us when he hears about them. You don't feel as though you've sprinted past the narrator and got to the conclusion before he does.Time to hunt down the rest of the books.
Marysia
I always enjoy reading the Nero Wolfe books. This one was satisfying, but I wouldn't rank it up there as one of the best. For one thing, it's fairly heavy on Archie and light on Wolfe, and I've realized that the interactions between them is one of the most enjoyable parts of the books for me -- there isn't so much of that here. The title of this book and the cover art don't really have much to do with the plot.Plot Comments:The middle of this book has an exciting part that, while I had a pretty good idea of how it would turn out, kept me turning the pages to find out. I normally enjoy Nero Wolfes for the character interactions and seeing how everything fits into place, but the "action" scene was a nice change of pace. However, I felt as though a lot of the sections detailing Archie's work with the police could have been trimmed; we didn't really learn anything important and it dragged. Like most Nero Wolfe novels I've read, the solution of the crime doesn't come down to the tiny details of the crime scene, but more about motive and the psychology of the killer. I wasn't totally satisfied with how it was resolved. (view spoiler)[I'm generally not a fan of anything involving impostors. Especially because, as other readers have pointed out, he could have accomplished his goals just through his lawyer without ever having to be seen by the people he killed. (hide spoiler)]
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