Monday, March 2, 2015

Archie in the Crosshairs (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries)

Author:  Robert Goldborough
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

Archie Goodwin is chipper as he strolls home from his weekly poker game, money in his pocket and a smile on his lips.  He has just reached Nero Wolfe's stately brownstone on West Thirty-Fifth Street when a sedan whips around the corner and two gunshots ring out, nearly hitting Goodwin.  It is a warning, and the message is clear:  The next bullet will not miss.

Rotund investigator Nero Wolfe has made more than his fair share of enemies over the years, and it seems one of them has decided to strike, targeting Wolfe's indefatigable assistant.  Some might run for cover, but Archie Goodwin is not the type.  With the help of Wolfe's brainpower, Goodwin will find the man who wants him dead-unless the killer gets to Goodwin first.


When Archie Goodwin returns home from a weekly poker game, he is barely missed by a couple of bullets that plant themselves in the brownstone he lives in with his boss, Nero Wolfe.  The next day, Archie and Wolfe receive a threatening telephone call that informs them that the next bullets will not miss - and Archie will be dead.  Since Wolfe knows he has made many enemies over the course of his life and work, he and Archie proceed to go through recent (two decades worth) files to attempt to discover the identity of the would-be killer.  The calls do not stop, and it is discovered that another attempt has half-heartedly been made, with someone again firing a gun into the brownstone.

Then Archie gets a phone call from a distraught young woman who insists she must hire Wolfe because she is being blackmailed, and that money is no object.  When Wolfe agrees to the meeting, he also agrees to take the case, with conditions...

When Archie and friends Saul Panzer and Fred Durkin prepare to "make the drop," of the blackmail money in return for incriminating photographs, something transpires that neither Wolfe nor Archie expected, and they discover that the two cases are connected, and to solve one will also bring resolution to the other, and Archie's life will no longer be in danger.

What we have here is a fitting tribute to the previous works of Rex Stout, the original creator of Nero Wolfe; and Mr. Goldsborough is indeed the rightful heir to the series.  We have Archie and Wolfe, faithful in voice and in action, in a compelling tale of blackmail, greed, and revenge.  We follow Archie as he first is not allowed to roam freely, due to circumstances surrounding the threats, and then later in his usual charming and sharp manner, questioning all those involved with Cordelia Hutchinson, the blackmail victim, in order to find out who might have knowledge of the scheme.

Then we watch patiently as Archie relays his new found information to Wolfe, and we see the final deduction from that brilliant sleuth as he confronts everyone involved, with the resulting expected tempers flaring, heated denials, and final acceptance of the facts as laid before them.  A worthy addition to the series and I look forward to the next.  Highly recommended.


1 comment:

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