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Friday, September 16, 2011

The Second Confession, by Rex Stout


The Second Confession
By Rex Stout
1949


I've noticed something as I've been reading my way through most of the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe stories and a handful of the Robert Goldsborough knockoffs. The stories in which Wolfe has a personal interest in the case he's working on tend to be more interesting than those in which he's just trying to collect a fee. Which is all that he's trying to do at the beginning of The Second Confession.

As things get rolling Wolfe has been called upon by a captain of industry to confirm that his daughter's boyfriend is a card-carrying Communist. Once upon a time this was the kind of thing that was considered to be pretty serious stuff. Archie is dispatched to do the legwork, engages in a couple of legally and ethically dicey actions to further that end and lo and behold, the plot thickens, with a certain party hitting Wolfe where it really hurts. I won't go into it much further than this, except to say that this is the second novel of a trilogy (of sorts) in which high-powered gangster Arnold Zeck plays a role. The final volume - In the Best Families - pulls out all the stops, but this one ain't so shabby either.

Which isn't much of a review, when you come right down to it, but in the interest of not spoiling things I'll just say that this made for some good reading and would probably be even better if you read the three Zeck books in order, something that I didn't do.

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