Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 19

Browning and Miss Lugos are there at 2:30.

The Dom Perignon (3 bottles!) has been consumed as has lunch and all are comfortably stuffed.

Archie and the help have moved the two mattresses that Archie uses to get bullets for comparison purposes, that are in the basement into the game room under the pool table in preparation of a (dare I say it?) bomb.

The Copes tape is ready on the player.

The 3 are in the front room. When the door bell rings Saul lets them in.

Browning isn’t a dragon snorting fire this time. πŸ˜‰

Wolfe tells them that it will take a while and Browning says he has an appointment. Wolfe says: “We’ll see.” and promises to keep it as short as possible.

Archie starts the tape.

After it’s over Wolfe tells them that with the help of inspector Cramer, he now knows that Copes lied and it’s all a fabrication.

Browning is upset at Wolfe once again wasting their time with it since he is telling them that it’s all a lie.

Wolfe says he isn’t wasting their time, that they had to hear a part of it and to appreciate the part they had to hear the whole. πŸ˜‰

Then comes the wrap-up.

Wolfe starts by telling them about Meer going to the clinic with blood on his hands, being referred to them, and being tricked by them into revealing his true identity. Which lead to them remembering seeing his name associated with the bombing incident, approaching Mrs. Odell and being hired.

Browning interrupts and is told not to as Wolfe continues.

He had considered that Meer had supplied the bomb but given the information he was given by Mrs. Odell, it seemed unlikely that Browning was the target.

He says that there has always been that special reason to suspect Meer but no plausible basis for a charge, and then says:

“Or rather, there was, but I hadn’t the wit to see it. I admit I should have. Mr. Copes revealed it to me.”

The next paragraph gives his reasoning. The key according to Wolfe is:

“if you undertake to invent something you heard another man say and you’re not a fool, you make it conform to his character, his knowledge, and his style.”

Copes had Meer saying to Helen that he didn’t want her to open the drawer to take a look “at the usual time.”

Wolfe continues to explain in detail how this told him that Miss Lugos had lied to him and the police.

Browning gets upset and tells Helen they are leaving. Wolfe wiggled a finger and Archie goes to the front room and calls for help.

Saul and Fred take the hall door and Orrie stands by Archie at the door to the front room. Wolfe tells Browning that he is NOT going and to come and sit down.

Wolfe then proceeds with a replay of the mornings scene with Cramer, in dictating a proposed article for the Gazette. He piles it on high, wide, and deep!

Details? Read the book. πŸ˜‰

When he gets to the point of where Browning knew or suspected who the bomb was actually meant for he is interrupted again by Browning telling him that it’s idiotic and that no newspaper would print any of it.

Wolfe explains that his pet paper, the Gazette, would with guaranty from Mrs. Odell to cover all expenses. He goes on to explain that to counter it, Browning would have to sue for libel or criminal libel and they would both have to submit to questioning under oath. Which would be idiotic on Brownings part.

Browning goes into a trance and after about half a minute, turns to Helen and she tells him to ask what Wolfe wants.

Archie details it nicely. πŸ˜‰

Browning turns to Wolfe and asks what he wants.

First off Wolfe wants “eyes on a level” so they sit with Helen in a yellow chair and Browning takes The Red Leather Chair and Browning asks again what Wolfe wants.

Wolfe wants to do the job he was hired for, and to do that he wants to get Meer on the phone and tell him that the two of them are there with him and ask him to join them for a talk.

There is a lot more here that is worth the read. πŸ˜‰

Archie gets Meer, Wolfe gets on and after a short conversation, Meer agrees to leave in 5 minutes and come talk with them.

Wolfe tells Browning that he and Helen can stay in the office and talk privately as he and the crew go to the front room where after asking for questions or comments, Wolfe heads for the kitchen for a beer.

The crew make bets about whether Meer will come and if so will he bring a bomb. Archie watches both the street and his watch and plays what if scenarios in his head. At 3:37 a taxi rolls up and Meer gets out with the briefcase.

Archie tells the crew in the front room that Meer has come and he has the bomb with him. They take their places. Archie counts to a slow ten after Meer rings the bell before answering.

They take him just as he gets inside. Archie grabs his hands while Saul gets the briefcase from where he was hiding behind the door. Saul takes it downstairs, with Orrie joining him from his post in the doorway to the office.

Meer sinks to the bench and starts to shake all over. Archie has Fred watch him.

Archie goes to the kitchen and tells Wolfe that he won, Meer had the bomb with him and they got it.

Wolfe goes and takes a look at Meer huddled on the bench in the hall, tells Fred to stay with him and enters the office where Browning wants to know if he came.

Wolfe tells him to “Shut up.” and then tells them that he came. He goes on to say that the other day when he came he was in his own car but didn’t leave his briefcase in it, that he kept it with him, and that when he decided to get Meer to come there, he suspected that he would bring it with him, especially knowing the two of them would be there.

“It was only conjecture, but well-grounded, and it has been verified. He came, and he had the brief case, and it is now in my basement under a pile of mattresses. On your way out, you will pass him in the hall – prostrated, wretched, defeated. Pass him, just pass him. He is no longer yours. I am now-”

Browning interrupts and is told to “Shut up!” and leave if they don’t want to see Cramer as that is who he is calling.

Archie dials…

And thus we come to the end the adventure of Please Pass The Guilt. Our hero and his trusty sidekick, Archie, manage to outwit the lying idiots at CAN, the cops, as well as the bomber, and make a pile of money in the process.

I agree with Subdolous, it is a VERY frustrating read. In some ways one of the most boring Wolfe’s that Stout wrote. I found myself having to go back and reread entire sections to see if I missed something, but there is almost nothing till chapter 18. There are a lot of good lines, byplay, and scenes, and it IS a Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novel, just not one of my favorites.

The book seems to have been written in 1969, but wasn’t published until 1973, which makes me think that Stout wasn’t too pleased with it either. There are several places that I think he was building up for A Family Affair, but I could be reading in things that aren’t there.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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