- By Rex Stout
- First published: US: Viking, 1946; UK: Collins, 1947
Stout’s return to Wolfe and Archie after WWII is very uninspired. It’s far too long (270 pp.) and static—much coming and going, and conversation—but the story doesn’t move or develop. Absence of clues = lack of progression = reader loses interest. It picks up from Ch. 29 (Wolfe’s explanation of what Phoebe was up to) and the very funny nervous breakdown, but ends badly with a completely uninteresting murderer — similar solution to The Second Confession (under-hand dealing). Depressingly empty.
A Catalogue of Crime (Barzun & Taylor, 1989):
A novella about the murder of a dedicated Washington civil servant (price regulator) and of one of his aides. The least likely suspect is well hidden, Wolfe does some thinking, and Archie is Archie. Not too much wrangling with the police, and in truth one of R.S.’s best in the semi-demi form.