Friday, September 2, 2011

Plot It Yourself, by Rex Stout

Plot It Yourself

By Rex Stout


In Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels much is made of the detective's reluctance to leave his home on business. it's a trait that Rex Stout uses to good effect on those rare occasions when the fat man actually does get up and leave the house to tend to a business matter. This plays out in somewhat less dramatic fashion in Plot It Yourself than in some of the other novels. What's much more dramatic, this time around, is when Wolfe, frustrated with his performance on the case, swears off beer and meat until everything is straightened out.

It all has to do with a series of plagiarism cases that are being brought against high-profile authors. Given the way that each of these cases plays out it's become apparent that they're a scam that's being masterminded by the same person. So a group of the aggrieved decide to turn to Wolfe to figure it out. That's also about the time that several of the players in this drama - the ones who asserted that their works were plagiarized - start getting bumped off, presumably by the person who dreamed up the con in the first place.

If you're like me and you're kind of lame-brained when it comes to keeping track of details, you might want to make a scorecard for this one. Stout throws out a lot of information, especially at the beginning, but in the end I didn’t see any clues that would definitively have pointed the reader in the direction of the killer. It made for good reading all the same and it was actually the first Stout-penned Wolfe novel I've read for a while. Short and sweet at a mere 136 pages (in the paperback edition I read) and worth a look.

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