Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Father Hunt, by Rex Stout

The Father Hunt
By Rex Stout

One doesn't drop in at the house on Thirty-fifth Street for the plot line. (Donald Westlake)

I wish I'd started this site before I commenced reading Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels. After going on a binge, of sorts, mostly in 2010 and 2011, I finally reached a point where I'd read all but seven titles. Rather than make a great effort to seek these out I decided to wait until I happened to stumble across them. Which happened recently with The Father Hunt, a title that I'd overlooked on my forays into the (virtual) stacks at my local library system.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, given that it was written near the end of Stout's career. Wolfe's creator was getting up in years by this time and only three more Wolfe novels were published before his death in 1975.

But I have to say that in my opinion Stout hadn't lost his touch. The Father Hunt might not rank with the best books of the series but it isn't so shabby either. As the title suggests, Wolfe and Archie are called upon to find the father of a girl who never knew him but he apparently sent her a large sum of money once a month. This was funneled through her mother until the mother died under suspicious circumstances.

Which is a serviceable enough plot, by Wolfe standards (even the most avid Wolfe fans would probably agree with the Westlake quote referenced above). What I found most interesting about this one was how mundane it was. Which might not sound like much of a selling point but what I mean is that it was a very nuts and bolts (and therefore probably fairly realistic) look at how a gang of detectives (Saul, Fred and Orrie are called upon to help out) crack a case with not much more than a lot of hard work that's not so far removed from drudgery and which takes them down numerous blind alleys which they have to try just on the off chance that something will turn up.

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