DOAD – Wolfe List Posts

Death Of A Dude – Chapter 15

Archie starts this last chapter with:

A report should end with a flourish, but this one can’t.
The groan has nothing to do with murder or trout; the state cops delivered Yaeger-Worthy to Jessup’s office safe and sound, and the fisher women came back a little after three o’clock with five cutthroats, two browns, for Dolly Vardens, and seven rainbows. For five of us, even though one was Nero Wolfe, that was amble.

His gloom is because he had to tell Lily that her search for a biographer would have to start over. He starts telling us about it and then goes:

Nuts. Why should I annoy you with it? Let’s have a flourish. Harvey Greve was turned loose in time to come and see Wolfe and me off for Helena in the morning.

The End

So Wade gets what’s coming to him. Lily and Archie go their separate ways till she comes back to the city. Wolfe gets to go HOME to his chair, his food, and his orchids! Harvey gets out and I certainly hope payed Haight back some dark night. Though after Jessup gets through there may not be much left. 😉

Even in a chapter that is about half a page long Stout still manages to convey so much information. The word-scapes he crafts in the Wolfe series are great!

Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder and Andrew Vachess’ Burke are both much darker and grittier charactors than Wolfe or Archie but the authors display a similar ability to turn a minimum of words into detailed mind pictures.

Charlotte MacLeod came close with all of her work but I particularly like her Peter Shandy and the Sarah Kelling mysteries. They are excellent but are in the whimsical, almost fantasy, vein.

Sue Graftin’s Kinsey Millhone books (A,B,C is for) hits sometimes and other times is a bit forced.

Martha Grimes in her Inspectory Jury books is good with word pictures but takes uses a lot more of them to get there than Stout did.

In Sci-Fi, I think that Roger Zelazany was exceptionally good at it.

What other authors, in your opinion, have this quality?

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

I’ve really enjoyed leading this discussion, though I’m afraid I did more reading and commenting on the book here and there, rather than actually leading a discussion on it. Hope ya’ll weren’t too bored. 😉

Now that Death of a Dude is out of the way, who’s gonna lead Please Pass The Guilt?

I’ll tell you now, if you couldn’t tell already from the quality (or lack thereof) of these posts, you couldn’t be any more unprepared than I was. I’ve written these as I read the chapter each day just before proofreading (such as it was) and mailing them.

So someone step up to the plate and grab a book to lead!

As far as I know the schedule for the next 3 books is open (Ken or Beer or whoever, please correct me if I’m wrong here!) and is as follows:

1973 Please Pass the Guilt – Aug. 8, 2005

1975 A Family Affair – Aug. 29, 2005

1985 Death Times Three – Sept. 19, 2005
Bitter End – Sept. 19, 2005
Frame-Up For Murder – Sept. 26, 2005
Assault on a Brownstone – Oct. 3, 2005

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Death Of A Dude – Chapter 14

Archie again starts off with the time:

They came at ten minutes past one.

Wolfe and he were seated “in the two best chairs on the terrace” and were gossiping (?) about Woody. The women were out fishing and Wade was gone.

Archie had been busy since breakfast. He put his jail clothing out to air, draped on bushes, as he wouldn’t have time to have them washed or cleaned.

He had also gotten everything out of Wades room that was connected to the book he now wasn’t going to write. He also took a look around to see if Wade had lifted anything but says it was just a professional gesture as he left on foot and in a hurry.

He called the airlines (Mid-Continent Airlines) in Helena and reserved 2 seats on the morning flight to Denver and a connecting flight to New York.

Wolfe had done 4 things:

Packed most of his belongings
inspected the storeroom (but not the freezer) for fixings for the Nero Wolfe trout deal
read a chapter in the book about indians
and made lunch – a casserole of eggs boulangere

Archie locked the cabin doors and windows and then joined him on the porch.

Haight, Welch and a six foot square jawed guy get out of Haight’s black Olds sedan. They ignore Wolfe and Archie as Haight and Welch go and getting no response from the door bell knock on the door. Haight tries the door and finding it locked has Welch try the other. They then head around the back side of the cabin by Lily’s room.

The stranger approaches them and introduces himself to them as Sergeant Schwartz of the St. Louis police.

The other two come back from the left having circled the house. Haight confronts Archie and demands to know where Lily is. Archie stands mute. 😉

Haight has words for him.

Wolfe states that he is articulate but wants them to sit.

Haight demands Worthy.

Wolfe tells him to sit or go, that Wade isn’t on the premises.

The Sergeant sits and asks politely where Carl Yaeger.

Wolfe explains that he doesn’t know where Yaeger is, that they were expecting him and that having spoken to Saul the evening before, knew he was coming.

Haight and Welch push chairs up and Haight starts demanding again. Wolfe tells him to shut up and Archie tells us:

You would have to hear that particular tone of Wolfe’s to appreciate it. I don’t know how he does it. It wasn’t anything like as loud as Haight’s bark, but it cut through and stopped him.

Wolfe tells him that he will hear as he chooses to tell it or not at all.

Wolfe recounts the tale with interruptions from Haight. When he gets to the part about the girl Haight goes off again demanding name and location. Wolfe refuses again and refers him to Jessup.

Wolfe continues. This is the wrap up. Read the book for the details. 😉

Schwartz is not happy that there have been two additional murders. Wolfe commiserates with:

“It isn’t likely that Montana will let Missouri have him.”

Schwartz wonders if Montana has him or will get him and wants to know the last time Wolfe saw him.

Wolfe gets to the point of this charade.

He had spent 6 days under the same roof with and sharing meals with Worthy and didn’t want him taken under Lily’s roof.

Haight demands to know where Worthy is yet again.

Wolf tells him he doesn’t know, that he and Archie came out and sat on the terrace and when they went back in he was gone.

Haight tells Wolfe that he and Archie are going in cuffs!

Wolfe tells Haight that he needs to go in and phone Mr. Jessup as there had been state police around the cabin that morning waiting for Yaeger and that he is probably in custody as they speak.

One more real short chapter and this book is done. There are some good scenes here that are well worth reading.

It looks to me that Wolfe wasn’t letting Archie in on most of the wrap-up as Archie is a touch impetuous at times and would have probably have done something that would have caused he and Wolfe to have to stay and testify at the trial(s). This way he was also able to tweak Haight’s nose in such a public way that Jessup gets the glory and Haight gets the mud.

Total supposition, but I suspect that he and Jessup also made sure the state police knew where the women were and were watching out for them.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death Of A Dude – Chapter 13

Archie starts this chapter off with time and day and a conclusion:

“At five minutes past nine Tuesday morning I concluded that it couldn’t be either Wade or Diana.”

He goes on to explain his reasoning in that Wolfe wouldn’t show up and eat breakfast with a known murder. Since he had entered the kitchen (with car key in pocket) and found Wolfe sitting across from Wade, drinking orange juice and “talking to man to man” he doesn’t figure Wade is the one.

Archie joins them at the table, glad to know he wouldn’t be eating with a murderer but still wondering why he had the key in his pocket.

Wolfe was expounding on a jail in Austria he had once escaped from and then turned to Lily and told her that they would be leaving the next morning and thanked her for her hospitality.

Lily gawks at him, and asks Archie if he is leaving too.

Wolfe interrupts and goes on to explain that the event might not meet his expectations but he suspects that the murderer will be apprehended soon. That he had talked to Saul in St. Louis several times the previous day and Saul had the photographs of all the people who were now in Montana and one of them had been identified as the murderer of a young woman in 1962 who was never apprehended.

He goes on to say that the murderers name was Carl Yaeger and that a St. Louis policeman was on the way to Montana to take him back.

He then asks Archie the time and when told that it was 9:37 states that the policeman arrived in Helena half an hour ago and is now en route to Timberburg.

He tells Lily that he can’t tell her what the mans name is due to his “semi-official” status with Mr. Jessup but that he can say that Yaeger is versatile in his methods:

He strangled a woman, shot a man, and crushed another man’s skull with a rock. Not many murderers have so patly fitted the crime to the occasion. So Mr. Greve will soon be released, probably in time for Mr. Goodwin and me to greet him before we leave.

Lily stutters. 🙂

Wolfe goes on to tell her that yes they brought it off and that he wants her, Miss Kandany and Mimi to get him some fish so he can prepare a real Nero Wolfe trout deal for them.

Lily looks a question at Archie. Read the book…

Archie has changed his mind again. Wade is it. Wolfe is sending the women folk out of harms way.

Archie watches Wade drink coffee and notes his hand is steady. Breakfast breaks up, with the women clearing things away and Wade going to his room. Archie and Wolfe head for the roadway and out of earshot.

Wolfe tells Archie that Haight and the St. Louis policeman will be there around noon. Archie stares at him and verifies that he is to NOT take Carl Yaeger alias Wade Worthy.

Wolfe explains that without access to Lily’s car he will most likely cross the creek and go to the ranch and try to get a car there but Mrs. Greve and Mr. Fox will take care of that end. The last I’ll let him tell in his own words:

“Therefore he will have to walk-or run- presumably to Lame Horse. Stop staring at me. If I don’t tell you the details of the arrangement you’ll probably go dashing off in pursuit, so I had better tell you.”
He told me.

That ends chapter 13. And from the sound of it is close to the end for Wade. Tomorrow we find out what crazy scheme Wolfe has cooked up this time.

Anyone want to do the math and figure out how far Timberburg is from Helena? If the policeman got to Helena at 9:30 and would get to Timberburg around noon. Depends on the roads and speed limits. but looks to me like it should be within 100 to 150 miles. ???

I’ve got to agree with Lord Clivers, that this is one of the stupidest stunts that Wolfe has pulled. Unless there is something more coming in the next chapter that I missed or that Archie didn’t report (or know?), he leaves the women folk unprotected with the killer on the lamb…

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death Of A Dude – Chapter 12

Archie, with his food fixation, starts the chapter off, by telling us he doesn’t know what happened to the rest of the snack.

He then goes on to suggest a way of keeping occupied next time you (the reader) are in jail. He has a bit of a fixation on female knees that he talks about here too.

It’s worth the read and that’s the only way you’ll get it. 😉

Of course that got him to thinking about Peggy Truett’s knees and all the other people like Wolfe and Haight that might be looking at her knees and then he kicks a stool across the room…

His description of the food is wonderful:

I am not going to report on the food because you would think I’m prejudiced. I honestly believe they put disinfectant in the oatmeal and the stew.

Can’t you almost taste it right now? 😉

Evers, the other full time deputy, comes to get him at 5:40pm Sunday afternoon and tells him to get his shoes on and bring his coat. He’s going home!

There is some more fantastic word craft in this section and if I start with any of it I’d have to put in too much, so…

The lawyer, Luther Dawson, is there to spring him and greets him with:

“I come to deliver you from bondage. All signed and sealed.”

Archie refuses to sign anything, gets his things back and heads out. Dawson tries to talk to Archie and gets a good talking down to and chewing out!

He gets out to the street and Lily is in a dark blue Dodge Coronet sedan. Archie gets in behind the wheel and heads toward the cabin.

He asks her how much bail and she tells him $10,000.

He pulls over and stops in a secluded area so they can talk without distractions.

She brings him up to date.

He thanks her for the food.

She tells him that Wolfe is at Woody’s and that they will stop on the way in.

She also tells him that Peggy Truett is at the cabin.

Jessup was there the night before and he and Wolfe questioned her for 2 hours.

Lily is upset because they wouldn’t tell her anything afterward. 😉 Bit spoiled, maybe?

She asks Archie if Wolfe may be sweet on Peggy and he tells her the apparent interest is a “filter job”. She asks “What’s that?”

“It’s similar to what I asked you to do abut Saturday night, only he steps it up by asking questions. It’s the opposite of filtering coffee. With coffee you’re after what goes right through, but with her he’s after what doesn’t go through, or doesn’t want to. Then you don’t know whether Haight has seen him or not.”

She tells him that he hasn’t.

She also mentions that sitting still, she can detect: “a slight-uh-aroma. Kind of exotic. Will it go?”

He tells her it’s permanent and asks if she got the prints off to Saul. She did.

They head on into town and stop at Woody’s to see Wolfe. Who greets Archie with “Satisfactory.”

Wolfe wants to stay and eat hunkiav beyandi, a kebab served with eggplant stuffed with onions browned in oil, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Sounds good to me!

Archie wants to go and get clean and eat. There are words. Archie leaves.

Once in the car with Lily and on the way he speaks:

“Some day I will brown him in oil and sprinkle garlic on him. He is expecting phone calls. He suggested that I bathe and eat and go to bed. So either he has got something hot started that he thinks he doesn’t need my help with, or he is cooking up one of his screwy charades that he knows I wouldn’t like.”

And goes on. And on.

They get to the cabin and he takes the key from the car to show himself that he’s not gonna go and get Wolfe if Woody wouldn’t bring him home.

He, clean as a scraped trout, eats turtle soup, two filets mignons, hashed-brown potatoes, bread and butter, milk, spinach with mushrooms and Madeira, honeydew melon, and coffee. Now that’s a meal!

Diana and Wade come in and Archie tells them about jail and then they play pinochle. Wolfe comes home shortly after 11 and goes to his room without coming into the big room.

The game finishes and Diana and Wade go to their rooms and Archie goes to tell Wolfe goodnight. Wolfe wants to talk.

He tells Archie that Peggy is in “protective custody” (being protected from Haight) and that the the last call from Saul had settled things. He had then called Jessup and men would be on the way at 9 am in the morning. Then he tells Archie that he isn’t going to tell him anything more.

Archie has words for Wolfe. Excellent paragraph of some fine words. 😉

He subsides and Wolfe asks him if the new rental has a key that is taken inside and placed on the shelf like the other car. Archie suspects him of changing the subject but answers “yes”. Wolfe then tells him to get the key in the morning before breakfast and then bids him a good night.

Archie tells him goodnight after deciding there was no use wasting his breath with comment or question, and retires himself.

On the way to his room he decides the killer has got to be Wade!

And that brings us a LOT closer to the end. 10 more pages or 3 more chapters and 2 more days. This next bit is good. I can hardly wait! 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death Of A Dude – Chapter 11

At ten minutes past five Sunday afternoon a turnkey inserted a key in the lock of my cell door and turned it, opened the door, and said, “Someone for you.”

Archie wasn’t enthused as he figured it wouldn’t be Wolfe or Lily nor a lawyer. Turns out it was Ed Welch with cuffs there to take him to Jessup’s office.

There is a slight confrontation about the cuffs and leaving Archie with Jessup which Jessup wins. Archie admires Welch’s performance getting the key off the ring:

It was a good performance. Better men than him, including me, have had trouble getting a key off of a ring, and he had done it, smooth and fast, under pressure.

Welch leaves.

Jessup and Archie talk a little about the arrest and then Jessup asks if Archie wants to eat the snack that Lily had packed for him or talk first. Archie wants to talk so he will have more time to eat later.

There are some interesting comments back and forth here. You know the routine by now surely. Read the book… 😉

Jessup then hands him a letter from Wolfe:

AG: I have spoken at length with Mr. Jessup and have reserved nothing relevant to the inquiry we are engaged on. Therefore neither will you. We are committed with him irrevocably, and I think he is with us.
August 11, 1968
NW

Archie gives the letter back to Jessup but tells him he wants it back later as a souvenir.

Archie asks about Wolfe’s whereabouts and is told he is under house arrest at Miss Rowan’s cabin.

Jessup then tells him that Sam was killed by a blow from a rock “not much bigger than your fist.”

He also tells Archie that Wolfe is right about them all being on the same team.

They discuss the murders being connected and Archie starts telling him what all has happened since Wolfe got there.

After getting to Sam’s murder he asks for water as his throat’s getting dry. Jessup asks if he wants Scotch or rye. He says water would do but if scotch wanted in it would be welcome.

They drink and talk a bit more and Archie wants to see what’s in the picnic basket. It was quite a spread.

1 can pineapple
1 can purple plums
10 (or more) large paper napkins
8 paper plates
1 jar caviar
1 quart milk
8 slices Mrs. Barnes’s bread
6 bananas
1 plastic container potato salad
4 deviled eggs
2 chicken second joints (?? is this the middle wing joint or what we (in the south) call a drumstick?)
1 slab Wisconsin cheese
1 jar pate de foie gras truffe (not gonna try for the accent marks)(goose liver pate?)
1 huckleberry pie
6 paper cups
2 knives
2 forks
4 spoons
1 opener combo
1 salt shaker

Archie says he hopes Jessup is hungry too and they dig in.

While eating Jessup explains his position, and that Haight will ask for high bail or that Archie be held without bail but says he won’t go for that.

Archie explains that he would like to be out so he could detect. Jessup wants to know what he would do and Archie explains in considerable detail.

Which I am gonna leave for you to read if you haven’t already… 😉

Afterwards he asks Jessup for a piece of paper and writes a letter to Wolfe in which he suggests that Lily or someone at the ranch find and bring in Peggy Truett (Sam’s friend) among other things.

He gives it to Jessup to read and when Jessup asks why they don’t just call Wolfe at the cabin and tell him, explains that Haight may have the phones tapped.

Jessup then tells him that he won’t have to go to St. Louis as Saul is going there. He goes on to say that he had driven Wolfe to Woody’s that morning where he had made the call. They had also gone to Farnham’s and Lily had taken everyones picture. These were being developed and Jessup would take the prints back out to Lily’s, along with Archie’s note to Wolfe.

He also admits that he likes Miss Rowan’s conception of a snack. He continues and tells Archie that their (Jessup’s and Lily’s) previous encounter (remember this?) was forgotten by mutual consent. He repeats the confession he made to Lily but you get to read that in the book… 😉

Archie asks Jessup to tell Wolfe and Lily that they don’t need to bother about bail since they are doing so well without him and then asks if there is room in the refrigerator for the remains of the snack. Jessup says that there is but there will be people there all day. Archie replies:

“Wait till they’re gone. I probably won’t be hungry sooner anyhow. That disinfected cell doesn’t seem to whet a man’s appetite.” I picked up the can opener. “Plums, or pineapple?”

And so ends chapter 11. Archie’s just not having real good luck in this one. However, it seems that Wolfe has someone in mind with the pictures and with Saul going to St. Louis. Poor Archie gets to sit and twiddle his thumbs in jail while even Lily is being useful taking pictures and charming Jessup. I hope his little “snack” helped ease the hurt… 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death of a Dude – Chapter 10

Chapter 10 starts with Archie wondering how Lily was going to get home while waiting after Wolfe left to tell the Sheriff to get one of the doctors to come.

He doesn’t have long to wait till Haight comes up and asks him a stupid question:

“Is this your car?”

Archie tells him the registration card is in the dash compartment and asks if a doctor is coming.

Haight proves he’s real sharp by telling Archie to get in the front seat which he refuses to do, being a bit more familiar with crime scenes than the sheriff seems to be.

Haight pulls his gun just as the doctor, Frank Milhaus, M.D., comes up.

The doctor takes a quick look and says he thinks he’s dead but waits till the deputy comes with his bag. He gets his stethoscope out, uses it and then pronounces him dead.

Then Dr. Milhaus makes a remark that seems to indicate that he and the sheriff don’t get along. When Haight tells him they’ll get him out so he can look the body over to ascertain the cause of death, the doctor replies:

“Not me. As you know, I’ve had a run-in that I don’t care to repeat.”

And leaves, as the sheriff makes a remark to his back that Archie doesn’t repeat for us.

At that, Archie is put under arrest. Welch throws the first blow and Archie ducks, but soon takes one and goes down and stays down for 42 minutes till there is a good crowd then gets up. Welch puts cuffs on him and takes him to the patrol car. On the way he sees Lily and the crew from the ranch and she tells him that Wolfe is at the cabin.

Welch gets him to the car, which is driven by Gil Haight and takes him to the police station where Archie explains at length and in depth what “stand mute” means. 😉

While waiting for the jailer to show up Archie wonders when he will get bailed out figuring that Monday would be the soonest but would probably be later.

Mort, the jailer comes in and Archie has to empty his pockets. Welch frisks him and then surprises him by giving his money back both paper money and coins. Mort then takes him to cell #5.

And so ends another chapter of our reading of Death of a Dude.

No new leads, Sam dead, and Archie in Jail. Not looking good for Wolfe’s team right now. Maybe things will look a little better in the next chapter.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death Of A Dude – Chapter 9

At 9:20 pm Saturday evening finds Wolfe and Archie at the Hall of Culture, in the middle room with Woody.

Wolfe and Woody are discussing signs that he has displayed on the wall.

Archie has already made a call to Saul, who told him he could find no trace of Brodell running into Diana Kadany or Wade Worthy in New York.

While Wolfe and Woody are discussing, Archie goes to the cabin to get Lily, Diana, and Wade and bring them back for the dance. He shows us some more of Diana’s acting and gets in descriptions of the lady’s clothes.

When they get back to the Hall there isn’t any parking in the front so he parks by the rear platform of the store.

They get inside and Wolfe is against the back wall and the sheriff is about 3 steps to his left. A deputy is off the the right.

Archie asks Wolfe if he has met the sheriff and gets a “No”, asks if he wants to and gets another. He then asks the sheriff if he wants to ask either of them anything and receives yet a third. Thinking that’s enough no’s, he goes over and after giving the doorman $2.00 enters the dance hall.

He and Lily dance a bit and she lets him know that the deputy followed him in. They discuss some of the situation while dancing, which he says they don’t usually do.

There is some good dialog here but you’ll have to read the book to get it. 😉

When the band stops for a break, Archie takes Lily to her favorite table and then takes a tour of the room to see who was there.

He also takes a look at the situation and doesn’t like it. If the sheriff (who is still sitting in the hall) sees Sam Peacock go into talk to Wolfe, he’ll collar Sam when he comes out. And since Sam is the only one Wolfe has had a glimmer out of so far, Archie isn’t real crazy about that idea.

Moving around, and standing near a corner when the band was going, in the next half-hour I saw maybe 183 faces I had seen before, and I had names for about half of them, including most of the people you have met – everybody at Farnham’s, and Pete Ingalls and Emmett Lake at the Bar JR. Pete was dancing with Lily, and she wiggled a finger at me as they went by.

Sam hasn’t shown but the girl that told him he looked awful the week before had. Archie approaches and tries to get her to dance but Sam has already told her about being questioned the night before and she refuses, but he does get her name, which is Peggy Truett. Peggy sees Sam and goes to talk to him.

Archie goes to talk to Wolfe, who he finds in Woody’s Gallery, reading and drinking beer. Archie gives us an interesting description of the room here that is worth reading.

Wolfe wants to know where he has been. Archie, after explaining that the sheriff still sitting outside and about the deputy that is following him around, asks if Wolf if he wants to go. Wolfe wants to finish his book, and poured beer.

Archie wandered around the room looking at the exhibits while Wolfe read, and after putting the bottles and glasses in the kitchen, returns to find Wolfe looking at the back of a rug. Archie notes the Murdock lock on the back door as they go out, and tells Wolfe that he will turn out the lights when he gets back to get Lily and the others.

FWIW – Murdock seems to have been another of Stout’s made-up product names. Or at least a quick search on google and yahoo didn’t turn up anything. Anybody remember a lock company by this name?

Outside, a little light from the draped windows helped some for the first twenty yards, but when we turned the corner of the deepest wing of Vawter’s it was good and dark, with no moon and most of the stars behind clouds.
We took it easy on the rough ground. No other car had joined the station wagon there in back of the building. I had taken the ignition key but hadn’t locked the doors, and leading the way, and regarding it as common courtesy, not pampering, to open the door for Wolfe on his side, I did so. That gave us light, the ceiling light, and the light gave us news. Bad news. We both saw it through the closed window. On the rear seat. Rather, partly on the seat. His torso was on the seat, but his head was hanging over the edge and so was most of his legs.

Archie opens the door and after checking and getting no pulse but noting the skin was warm feels his skull with his finger tips and finds a deep dent.

I backed out and stood and said, “It’s barely possible he’s alive. I stay here and you go in. You’ll have to tell that sheriff sonofabitch, and that’s a lousy break too. Tell him to bring a doctor, there are at least two there.”

Archie gets a flashlight and shows Wolfe the shortest way to the buildings and offers him the flashlight but he didn’t take it.

He spoke. “Wouldn’t it be possible to-”
“You know damn well it wouldn’t. There’s one chance in a million he’s alive, and if so he may talk again. You don’t have to tell him it’s Sam Peacock, just say a man. Here.”
He took the flashlight and went.

And this ends chapter 9.

Wolfe and Archie have certainly stirred up somebody. And it looks like old Sam knew something after all. Remember back a few chapters when Wolfe was questioning him and he stopped and pulled on his neckerchief and told him he asked a lot of questions? Looks like now they have to start digging again.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death of a Dude – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 is a short one and takes place at the Greves’ house. Here we get a look at the people that work at the Bar JR (Lily’s ranch).

It starts out at twenty minutes past 5 on Saturday with Wolfe, Archie, Emmett Lake, and Pete Ingalls, in the front room. Carol Greve and Flora Eaton are in the kitchen preparing the real Montana trout deal which is scheduled for 6.

Emmett is an old farm hand, whereas Pete is doing his postgraduate work in paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley, and is enjoying his third summer working at the ranch.

They are soon joined by Mel Fox who has been out with a horse that had a problem.

Wolfe explains that he has already been there for three days and had waited that long to talk with them because of the report that Archie had given him on them. He then tells them:

“I am here in the forlorn hope that one of you knows something, unwittingly, that will supply a suggestion. To try to uncover it by asking you questions would take day. Instead I ask you to talk. Mr Fox, you first. Talk about Philip Brodell and his death.”

Did Wolfe ever use the line “forlorn hope” before? Just curious. Seems a bit out of line for him unless he is really grasping at straws.

Anyway back to the story. Mel tells Wolfe that he didn’t speak 20 words to Brodell and then explains what, where, and when. Also implies he would have liked to talk to him after finding out that he was the father of Alma’s baby but that he wasn’t around at the time.

Wolfe says:

“Then perhaps you should be suspected.”
“Yea, go ahead. The sheriff did a little.”
“Why did he stop?”
“Because Harvey was just as good as me or better, and he’s got it in for Harvey. And Harvey was out alone that afternoon, and I wasn’t. Emmett Lake was with me right through, and Pete Ingalls too part of the time. The sheriff knew Emmett wouldn’t lie for me because he thinks he ought to have my job.”
“Balls,” Emmett said.
He was ignored.

Fox goes on to tell about the 3 of them talking about what to do about Brodell and Alma but:

“Like every argument I ever had a part of, nobody changed anybody.”

He goes on to say that they talked about it the next night and that he and Pete were standing out by the corral talking about it:

“on Thursday after supper, out by the big corral, right at the time he was laying on that boulder with two holes through him. It showed me once more, when I heard about it Friday, that you don’t always know what you’re talking about.”

To which Wolfe answers:

“How could you? Not only ignorance. Man’s brain enlarged fortuitously, invented words in an ambitious effort to learn how to think, only to have them usurped by his emotions. But we still try. Please continue.”

Mel says there is no where else to go, but does cover a few other things. Asks about Gil Haight and Archie tells him that he was out of the picture and then tells him they have no one and that’s why they are there to try to find something.

Wolfe moves on to Emmett.

This is the part about the four page letter from the woman in Wichita, Kansas. If you don’t read anything else in the book take a look at it. Page 102 in my copy which is a 1973 Bantam 5th printing.

Emmett cusses. A lot. But we get the idea that he didn’t like Brodell. 😉

Wolfe stops him with:

“Thank you, Mr Lake, for illustrating so well what I said about words.”

And then turns his attention to Pete Ingalls.

Pete starts off with a speech about Harvey and what a good man he is which Wolfe stops and asks about his association with Brodell last summer.

Pete tells Wolfe that Brodell looked up to him because he “broke loose” from his fathers business and had interests of his own. He and Wolfe have a good exchange of words which is worth reading of it’s own. He tells Wolfe that he thinks that Brodell was a dull man and goes on to say:

“I had a thought about him the day after he died: I doubt that he ever stirred anybody. He was thirty-five years old. It took him perhaps one minute to die, or even less, but he probably stirred more people, he caused more excitement, in that one minute of dying than in all his thirty-five years of living. That’s a dismal thought either about life or about him. I figured it. There are eighteen million, three hundred and ninety-six thousand minutes in thirty-five years. You told us to talk about Philip Brodell and his death. Well, if I tried all day I couldn’t say anything truer about him than that. That’s a hell of an obituary.”

I like that paragraph. And Wolfe’s answer:

“And surely not deserved,”

Wolfe remarks that Brodell must have stirred Miss Greve or she him. Pete concedes this is a point and goes on discussing Alma until she enters to tell them that supper is ready.

Mel goes to wash up and the rest go to the table.

Archie tells us a bit about the room and they sit to eat. When the trout is brought out, Wolfe’s is the biggest, a 15 inch rainbow that Lily had caught. Archie had already told him to just open the foil and eat, which he did:

He used his knife and fork on it expertly, conveyed a bite to his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and said, “Remarkable.”
That settled it; I would have to hit him for a raise. If redeeming me was worth that, I was being underpaid.

In some ways I think this is one of the best scenes in the book and I realize that it has already been discussed a bit, but – It’s subtle enough that after reading it several times, I’m still not sure. Was the trout good or bad? I lean toward good one time and bad the next.

Whichever it was, that’s it for chapter 8. I don’t think that Wolfe got much of anything except some background and a little more on peoples locations at the time of the murder. And hopefully full. 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Death of a Dude – Chapter 7

Chapter 7 starts off with Archie in pursuit of Gil Haight, inside the police station.

It started at 9:55 Saturday morning when he arrives at the Presto gas station (which is a real company http://www.gassigns.org/prestocorp.htm ) where Gil works. He went in and after a short chat and Gil reading the “To Whom It May Concern” over twice asks if they can talk. Gil suggests the his fathers office at the police station and that they go in Miss Rowan’s car.

Archie tells us that Gil’s father owns the station, as Gil tells his colleague that he was leaving for a while. We are also told that the service station is about half a mile from the police station. Since he has his “credentials” and is transporting a Haight he parked in the OFFICIAL CARS ONLY lot at the back of the court house. They go in and as Archie is crossing the lobby he notices that Gil isn’t behind him any longer. An interesting scene here. And as usual, read the book. 😉 He enters the office.

This next paragraph is pure Archie:

You haven’t met Sheriff Morley Haight, which is fair enough, because he hadn’t met himself. Lily and I, having had occasion to discuss him, had done so. His basic idea of a Western sheriff was Wyatt Earp, so that was how he dressed, but obviously the modern way to tote a gun was on a belt like a state trooper’s, so he did, though he knew he shouldn’t. An even bigger difficulty was that he was a born loudmouth, a natural roof-raiser, and of course that wouldn’t do at all for a Wyatt Earp. As if that wasn’t enough, he had told various people, two of whom I had met, that when there was a problem to handle he always asked himself what J. Edgar Hoover would do. The product was a personality mess that couldn’t have been made any worse even by a trained psychoanalyst.

They exchange a few words and the sheriff hands him Gil’s statement, signed and witnessed and given on July 27, 1968, two days after the murder. It gave his whereabouts from 12:50 to 6:00.

Archie folds the paper, puts it in his pocket and then says to the sheriff:

“That seems to account for him, subject to a check, but what about you? Where were you from two p.m. to six p.m. on Thursday, July twenty-fifth?”

Which gets a better reaction than he had expected as the sheriff hollers and thinks about drawing down on him as Archie beats a hasty retreat.

He goes to Miss Bessie Boughton’s house as it’s on Gil’s list of places that he was that day. She is waiting for him, as Gil had called her. She explains that she was Gil’s mother figure and he had come by to talk to her about what to do about Philip Brodell. He wanted to fight a duel but she made him think things through and they decided that taring and feathering was the right thing to do. Archie gets a few more glints here as the other places that Gil had gone after leaving Miss Boughton’s was the roofing supply and a chicken farm. They exchange a few more words and he leaves. Leaving out Archie thinks about going to Dowd Roofing Company but decides against it and heads to Woody’s to call Saul who is out, so he heads back to the cabin and lunch.

Here he finds Wade opening a can of clam chowder for lunch. Archie asks where everybody else is, and Wade tells him that the women have all gone fishing, so Mrs. Greve can fix Wolfe a real Montana trout deal and he heard Wolfe in the kitchen and store room around 10 a.m. but didn’t know where he went after that.

They eat and Archie wants to tell him that Saul is checking up on him but used will power to keep from saying it.

After cleaning up after themselves, Wade goes to his room and Archie heads outside to hunt Wolfe. He finds him at their spot at the creek with his pants legs rolled up to his knees, sitting on a boulder with his feet in the water.

He checks to see that Wolfe hasn’t lost the Muso emerald cuff links which a man had offered 35,000 for a year ago, and tells Wolfe that they can forget Gil. Wolfe has him report, which he does, saying he was a little rusty with the word for word recall since he hadn’t had any practice since June but:

“By the time I got to the tar and feathers it was coming as smooth as a tape recorder, though the conditions were unprecedented. I had never before reported with him sitting on a slab of granite barefooted, wiggling his toes.”

After deciding that Archie is right and that they forget Gil, Wolfe, while getting dressed, asks about the Montana trout deal.

Archie wise-cracks a bit and goes on to explain it’s history and describes the ingredients and tells how to cook it. It’s in the book. Sounds good too. 😉

Wolfe tells Archie he’s needed there and not in St. Louis and then asks if Mr. Peacock would be at the ranch at that time. When Archie says no, Wolfe then asks if Sam would be at the gathering at Mr. Stepanian’s place that evening. When Archie says that he always was, Wolfe says:

“Then we’ll meet him there.”
“We? You’re going?”
“Yes.”
My brows didn’t go up; I was too impressed. I just stared.
“I’m thirsty,” Wolfe said. “There are two cans of beer in the creek.”
I rose and went to get them.

And thus we come to the end of todays chapter. I left out a few important things this time, but you if are reading along you already know that. If you aren’t, sorry… 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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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. 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉 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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