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A Family Affair by Rex Stout

A Family Affair (1975)

by Rex Stout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Nero Wolfe (46)

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516830,213 (3.79)35



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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A waiter ends up dead in Wolfe's home. Not the strongest plot, but still passable. ( )
  addunn3 | May 3, 2018 |
A favorite waiter surprises Archie one night and says he fears he'll be killed. Archie leaves him in a guest bedroom to sleep until the great detective, Nero Wolfe, wakes up. But only minutes after Archie goes to bed himself, the house is shaken. A bomb has gone off, and the waiter is dead.

So begins another mystery, set in 1970s New York and focusing on the sedentary gastronomer and genius, Nero Wolfe, and his bff and right hand man, Archie Goodwin. The mystery is solved through unbelievably circumstantial clues, there's very little motive for the murders, and there's a completely unnecessary red herring that takes up a good half of the book. The other half is taken up by Stout's repetitive stock phrases: men are constantly sending their eyes round the room, palming the arms of their chair, walking exactly three streps into the room...Stout tells every single motion in absurd detail, none of which has anything whatsoever to do with the mystery or even much to do with character development. Between the unsatisfactory mystery, the stock phrases and unnecessary details padding out the slender plot, and Archie's unbearable sexism (he makes a joke at one point that the only way to get a feminist to listen is to rape her--which she'd like, btw), I really hated this book by the end. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Wonderful read! Great mystery! Surprising ending! Terrific narrator! ( )
  njcur | Dec 16, 2015 |
There is no question that Rex Stout was a master. I have read most of them and listened to the rest, all ably read by one of my favorite readers, Michael Pritchard.

This was Stout’s last novel, released in 1975. Some reviewers have suggested it’s not up to his earlier work. I disagree, although it’s a little jarring to find Richard Nixon as a central figure and tape recorders and Watergate. It’s clear Stout thought Nixon as head of state had perpetrated a great flummery on the people. I wonder if most of the remarks will be totally lost on anyone born after 1970. Lots of aspersions regarding the people and actions of the events surrounding Watergate.

Nothing outrages Wolfe more than when a murder is committed under his nose. Worse yet when it’s in his house. A waiter from his favorite restaurant is blown up in the guest room. Soon Wolfe is up to his neck in Watergate related characters. Stout’s disdain for the players is obvious. Stout, by this time, was in his eighties, and any political commentary was quite unusual for his characters. But the usual banter is present and it’s hard not to love a character who hates people dropping quotations, especially when they quote from Sir Thomas More, since Wolfe always maintained that More had slandered Richard III.

Several Amazon reviewers suggested this book was not up to his usual high quality. I beg to differ. It has the wonderfully precise use of language; Archie is still the wisecracking sidekick, and this final book really puts Wolfe to the test. Wolfe, Archie, Saul, Fred and Orrie all wind up in jail for the weekend (for obstruction of justice, paralleling the five Nixon characters,) Wolfe leaves his house more than he ever had, and there are complexities enough to keep Wolfe fans happy.

Given the ending, I would not be surprised if Stout had a premonition this might be his last book. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Despite this being a short mystery it certainly had more twists than the usual Rex Stout creation. Told from the point of view of his assistant, Artie, the mystery begins in Wolfe's own home when his favorite waiter is murdered in his spare room. It's unheard of for a crime to happen right under his nose. Another strange development is Wolfe's uncharacteristic emotional outbursts. This is a case he takes very personally - enough to call it "a family affair" and enough for him to spend a night in jail (this coming from a man who never even likes to leave his home)! Because the murder happens in his own home he is more than determined to find the killer before the authorities do, despite not having a client. Typical of other Stout mysteries Wolfe has his beloved orchids and by-the-minute routines and mannerisms. What is different about this particular story is the inclusion of political commentary concerning Nixon and Watergate. Stout displays his displeasure with the political happenings in Washington through Wolfe. ( )
1 vote SeriousGrace | Dec 8, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rex Stoutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Askeland, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borthen, LeifTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehr, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prichard, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When someone pushes the button at the front door of the old brownstone, bells ring in four places: in the kitchen, in the office, down in Fritz's room, and up in my room.
The attitude of Sergeant Purley Stebbins toward Wolfe and me is yes-and-no, or make it no-but-yes.
"Whether you have warrants or not, arrest us now and take us; let's get that over with. I have a job to do." He extended his arms, stretched out, the wrists together for handcuffs. Beautiful. I would have loved to do it too, but that would have been piling it on.
I wouldn't want to go through that again. I don't mean the three hours while we discussed it and decided what to do. The hour after he came, while we did it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553241222, Mass Market Paperback)

When a bomb kills his favorite waiter from his favorite restaurant, sedentary sleuth and gourmand Nero Wolfe is determined to go to any length to find the killer. Reissue. NYT.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Nero Wolfe finds himself under pressure when a murder is committed in the old brownstone on West 35th Street.

» see all 3 descriptions

Legacy Library: Rex Stout

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