Monday, July 4, 2011

Murder in E Minor, by Robert Goldsborough

Murder in E Minor
by Robert Goldsborough

If I'd applied some foresight to the matter I'd have read all of the Nero Wolfe books in order, starting with Rex Stout's Fer De Lance, which hit the shelves in 1934, and winding up with Robert Goldsborough's The Missing Chapter, which was published six decades later. So much for good intentions.

Murder in E Minor is the first of the seven Nero Wolfe novels Goldsborough published between 1986 and 1994. It came out about a decade after Rex Stout's death and though I wasn't a fan at the time I'd guess that the pressure on Stout's successor was probably pretty intense. Not to worry though, for E Minor is a work that, in my opinion, is a worthy follow-up the official Wolfe canon.

As the title suggests, music is the theme here. Wolfe and Archie are in an unofficial state of retirement and, not surprisingly, Archie is not too happy with this state of affairs. Before long a symphony conductor is bumped off and the pair spring back into action. Part of Wolfe's motivation in rousing himself from his state of rest is that said conductor is a freedom fighter he fought beside in his early years in Montenegro. Said personal connection arguably makes for a more interesting book, as opposed to those in which the big man's only stake in the proceedings is collecting a fee.


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