Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
8:32 pm - Stout Hearted  
A few of a raft of books I've read in the last couple o' months. First, some detectives

Prisoner's Base — Rex Stout

This one could've been called Archie's bad week, as through distracted inaction (he and Wolfe were pouting at one another) he manages to allow two women to be murdered. The book was one of those adapted for the TV show. Kari Matchett played one of the victims. Broke my heart, it did.

The Broken Vase — Rex Stout
Bad for Business — Rex Stout


I picked these up at a used book store when I was home for the holidays thinking they were Wolfe books I hadn't read. Actually they were two of the three Tecumseh Fox novels Stout wrote. Although Fox lives on his hobby farm up in Westchester, both mysteries are set in the same New York City that Wolfe lives in. Dol Bonner shows up in one book, as do some of the same DAs, and he occasionally eats as Rusterman's. He appears to be much more like Stout in personal interests than either Wolfe or Goodwin. He also seems to get along with the police much better than the other two, too.

The oddest thing about the books for someone used to Archie's narration is that they're written in third person, with occasional viewpoints other than Fox's. The Broken Vase, which I read first, out of sequence, is particularly odd in that the language also seems a bit stilted at times. I didn't really know what to make of it, but I thought maybe Stout just wasn't very good at third person, and that's why he gave up on Fox after Vase. If I hadn't already had Bad for Business, I wouldn't have picked it up.

Turns out I was wrong about any difficulties Stout had with point of view. Business is just fine, with none of the weird constructions I noticed in Vase. I'd actually already read a shortened version of the the book because Stout rewrote it as the Wolfe novella Bitter End. The full length version is better. At some point I need to find the third Fox book.

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Devil in a Blue Dress — Walter Mosley

snurri has been reading and reviewing Mosley's Easy Rawlins books, which got me interested. Rawlins is a black man living in postwar Los Angeles, but while he's treading some of the same ground as Marlowe, he often lacks access to some of the places Marlowe can get to. OTOH, he has access to places Marlowe can't get to. I enjoyed it quite a bit, enough so that I went out and found a copy of the film version, which stars Denzel Washington as Easy. I mean, who doesn't love Denzel?

There was one weird thing about the edition I had, a paperback purchased from Amazon. I'm reading along, enjoying myself, when about forty pages in Easy solves the case, the end. Huh? Turns out it was a short story from a more recent book, used as a teaser. I seen that done at the end of books before, but never at the start. Huh.
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