Death of a Dude – Chapter 6

Archie starts the chapter off by giving us the name of the paper – The Monroe County Register – I did a search on Monroe County and located 17 listed but none in Montana or at least none listed at http://www.answers.com/topic/list-of-u-s-county-name-etymologies-j-m nor any that I could find using google. The name could have been changed but I am suspecting by this point that Stout pulled the place names in this book out of thin air. πŸ˜‰

Archie tells us that he made a point of being in Lame Horse at Vawter’s when the paper arrives on Friday, gets 2 extra copies and returns to the cabin. 5:30 pm finds him and Wolfe, in Wolfe’s room, discussing an item on the front page:

JESSUP PUTS NERO WOLFE
ON HUCKLEBERRY MURDER CASE

Archie goes on to include the article, but you’ll have to read the book to get it. πŸ˜‰

The gist of it is that Jessup has appointed Wolfe and Archie to act as special investigators and announced it to the area via the paper. He goes on to add that “Wolfe and Goodwin will of course be under my supervision and control” and continues that it will cost nothing and that if they find no new evidence no harm will have been done, but if they do find something they will have rendered a service to the county.

The sherif replies with “No comment” to any questions the reporter asked and Wolfe referred all questions to Mr. Jessup.

The next bit starts off with a good paragraph:

Reading it, Wolfe had made a face several times, but in our discussion of it he had criticized only two words. He said “sleuth” was a vulgarism, and “supervision” was jugglery. But he admitted that everybody knows that if an elected person means everything he says he’s a damn fool, so there was no argument.

Archie goes on to say that Jessup had phoned the evening before to tell them he had decided to accept their offer of help. Archie wanted to go by and question Gil the next morning as soon as he went and got their credentials but Wolfe didn’t want him to and an argument ensued. Wolfe solves it by putting Archie back on the payroll retroactive to the time his vacation ended which was on Wednesday, July 31st. Archie shows off a bit by telling us that he was making in a week and a half:

I figured it on a sheet from my notebook – $600 minus federal income tax withheld $153.75, state income tax $33.00 and Social Security tax $23.88 – went and got the checkbook from a dresser drawer, drew a check to the order of Archie Goodwin for $389.37, and handed it to him with a pen, and he signed it and forked it over.

So Wolfe won the argument and then told Archie he didn’t know what to do right then, that he wanted to go to bed, and they would talk tomorrow.

Well, we have already seen that Archie went to town to get the papers and came back, but here he tells us that he had already been to Timberburg that morning to pick up their credentials, which were of the “To Whom It May Concern” variety on Jessup’s letterhead.

After their 5:30 pm talk it was time for supper. Archie notes that Lily has left her copy of the paper out where everyone can see it so they are all aware of the change in status. Wade comments as they come in:

“Congratulations! I didn’t realize you were that famous. When does the ball start rolling?”

Archie tells him not till after supper as they don’t discuss business during a meal. And aims an aside to the reader that he and Wolfe had decided to not tell Lily that the pasts of 2 of her guests were being investigated by Saul.

Supper, consisting of “leg of lamb, lima beans (from the freezer), Mrs. Barne’s bread, sliced tomatoes, and huckleberry pie with coffee ice cream”, was disposed of and they return to Wolfe’s room while the others take coffee in the big room by the fireplace.

Here Archie gets a surprise when Wolfe wants to go to Farnham’s Dude Ranch to question the people there right then! At night, after supper, in the rain!

Archie calls and their credentials are discussed and they are told to come ahead.

They leave out wearing red hooded poncho’s. Now there is a picture, Wolfe in a bright red hooded poncho in the mountains in the rain. Glowering. πŸ˜‰ There is a interesting description that Archie gives, but you got to read the book to get it.

They get to Farnhams and introductions are made. There are 6 men and one woman:

Bill Farnham the owner,
Dr. Robert Amory and his wife Mrs. Amory from Seattle,
Joseph Colihan, from Denver,
Armand DuBois, also from Denver,
Bert Magee, farmhand
Sam Peacock, farmhand

They are offered something to drink but Wolfe refuses after a short discussion, wanting to get on with the questioning.

The next pages deal with questions and answers. Farnham gets riled early and easily and tells them to leave, but after Wolfe threatens him, with having them all hauled in for questioning one by one, relents.

Wolfe pokes and prods but doesn’t get down to it till he gets to Sam Peacock, who found the body.

Sam had given Brodell a fly the year before that he had caught a six-pound rainbow trout on and Brodell had hung around with him this year more than anyone else.

Wolfe goes to work on Sam. He starts when Brodell got to the ranch and works him all the way through until he finds Brodell’s body. Sam says to Wolfe at one point: “You got a lot of questions, mister.” to which Wolfe replies that he once ask a woman 10,000 questions. And continues with the questioning.

After Wolfe gets through with questioning Sam:

Wolfe turned his head to look at me. His unasked question was, “Has he varied any, with the others present, from what he told you, and if so, do you challenge him now?” I shook my head and said, “Nothing to add, even with credentials.”

Wolfe makes a bit of a speech and they go to get ponchos on to go to the car. As they are going out Farnham gets a poncho and comes to the car with them. Here he tells them that Brodell’s father holds the mortgage on his place and that he figures that if Wolfe sends Archie to St. Louis that he’ll find out anyway.

Wolfe grunted. “A substantial mortgage?”
“Goddammit, yes!” He slammed the door shut harder than necessary.

And so ends chapter 6 and Friday August 7, 1968. There are a couple of clues in this chapter but you need to have read the book already to pick them up, or I did.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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