Please Pass The Guilt

Seven Complete Nero Wolfe Novels

7 Complete Nero Wolfe Novels

Seven Complete Nero Wolfe Novels

Copyright 1983 by Pola W. Stout,
executrix of the estate of Rex Stout
This edition is published by Avenel Books


Poison a la carte
Method Three for Murder
The Rodeo Murder

Dust Jacket Text:

Nero Wolfe is an overweight misanthrope and an avid orchid grower
who almost never leaves his comfortable Manhattan brownstone-
hardly the description of a crackerjack detective. Yet Nero Wolfe is one
of the best. Aided by Archie Goodwin, who does his legwork (and a fair
amount of the brain work), Nero Wolfe cracks every case, usually
while sitting comfortably in his study.

When is an after-dinner speaker never boring? When he is mur-
dered before he gets a chance to speak. In The Silent Speaker, Cheney
Boone from the Bureau of Price Regulation is murdered before
addressing the National Industrial Association. Nero Wolfe and
Archie Goodwin unravel the tangled hatreds among those who enforce
government regulations, free enterprise advocates, and greedy civil
servants to ferret out the killer.

In Might As Well Be Dead, a simple missing-person case leads Wolfe
and Goodwin to an accused killer with a mysterious past-a man on
trial who doesn’t want to be acquitted. Convincing the innocent not to
plead guilty becomes as difficult a task as finding the real murderer in
this complicated case.

Otis Farrell comes to Wolfe and Goodwin in If Death Ever Slept with
an urgent request to get his daughter-in-law out of his posh duplex
apartment. But before too long, family squabbles turn to murder and
the case that Wolfe took on a whim becomes deadly serious.

Death comes to Nero Wolfe in three unique ways in 3 at Wolfe’s Door.
Poisoned caviar in the blinis spoils Wolfe’s dinner in “Poison a la
Carte”; death comes by taxi to his brownstone in “Method Three for
Murder”; and a rodeo roping contest held on a balcony one hundred
feet above 63rd Street in New York is the scene of a murder in “The
Rodeo Murder.” But no matter how different or disturbing, Wolfe
solves each case with his usual brilliant deductions.
Ordinarily chess isn’t considered a dangerous game, but for Paul
Jerin a night of play meant murder in Gambit. His hot chocolate was
poisoned at the Gambit Chess Club, and Sally Blount, daughter ofthe
accused murderer, hires Wolfe to clear her father.

Everyone knows corporate politics are vicious, but putting a bomb
in a vice-president’s desk drawer is going too far. In Please Pass The
Guilt, a bomb kills Peter J. Odell, vice-president in charge of develop-
ment at Continental Air Network, and Nero Wolfe enters the corpo-
rate jungle to find the murderer: frustrated secretary, bored wife,
ambitious colleague, or someone else altogether.

ln A Family Affair, a friend of Wolfe’s is killed in Wolfe’s own
brownstone, and he takes the case as a personal vendetta, going
so far as to leave the house to investigate and to jail to avoid
giving the police informgtion. The disturbing case leads Wolfe
and Goodwin to facts they would rather not know and
conclusions they would rather not make.
The seven Nero Wolfe mysteries collected here highlight the
rare genius and detective ability of Nero Wolfe and his able
assistant, Archie Goodwin.

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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. 😉

Continue reading

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 18

Amory Browning rings the door bell at 10:20 and is a mite peeved about something. He walks past Archie and is standing in front of Wolfe’s desk when he gets to the office. Browning wants Wolfe there NOW! Archie goes to the kitchen and calls the plant rooms. Wolfe says to bring him.

Archie figures that the walk up will help cool him off but Browning is in good shape and doesn’t stop at the landings for breath.

When he gets there Archie says he doesn’t see an orchid, he was so mad.

Wolfe tells him that he doesn’t like to be interrupted at work either. 😉

Browning has words for Wolfe.

When he runs down Wolfe asks if that is what he came to tell him and Browning says yes.

“Very well, you’ve told me.” Wolfe turned back to the bale of tree fern.

Classic Wolfe!

Browning leaves without another word.

Archie is sitting in the office wondering if he should have bothered depositing the check when the doorbell rings and it’s Saul with good news!

Archie takes him to the plant rooms to talk to Wolfe, as neither he nor Saul want to wait the 13 minutes till it’s time for him to come down.

Seems that Dennis Copes has a twin sister named Diana and she is married to Rowcliff. Rowcliff and Copes don’t see eye to eye but Dennis is close to his sister.

Wolfe is happy and tells them to put a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator.

They get to the office with a detour to the kitchen and the doorbell rings. It’s Fred and he’s got the same bit of information! Wolfe comes down and Archie tells him that Fred has it too and Wolfe wants Cramer on the phone.

After a bit of discussion Cramer agrees to get Rowcliff and come to the office, leaving in about 10 minutes.

Wolfe has Archie get the Copes tape ready while he questions Saul and Fred.

When Cramer and Rowcliff arrive Saul answers the door and brings them to the office. Cramer is in a hurry and Wolfe tells them who the tape is of and then has Archie turn it on.

They listen and Cramer gets redder than usual and starts in about Wolfe sitting on the information for 4 days. Rowcliff acts a bit nervous.

Wolfe explains that he has searched for anyone that might have told Meer that Odell intended to put LSD in the whiskey. If Meer didn’t know then Copes was lying but how did Copes know since it was an official secret.

Cramer keeps harping about how long he kept the information and Wolfe counters quite well that due to the compentent performance both Fred and Saul that it only took 3 days to find out how he knew about the LSD.

Wolfe then threatens to disclose that Rowcliff had leaked the information to the Gazette.

Rowcliff is livid and Cramer is not far behind. Cramer tells him that he can’t do it but Wolfe thinks otherwise.

Cramer wants to talk things over with Rowcliff but Wolfe is having none of that. He tells Cramer that if they leave without satisfying him that Archie will be out the door 10 minutes later with the suggested draft of the article.

There is an interesting three way exchange between Wolfe, Cramer, and Rowcliff, at the end of which Rowcliff admits to telling his wife about the LSD.

Cramer isn’t happy with Rowcliff, and after a few more words directed toward Wolfe they leave, with Saul showing them the door.

Wolfe wants Archie to get Mr. Browning. Archie thinks he is making up for lost time. 😉

After a short conversation with Miss Lugos, Archie gets through to Mr. Browning. Wolfe tells him that he knows who the bomber is and that he is going to disclose it to the police no later than 4 o’clock but that he would like to tell Browning and Miss Lugos first.

Browning can’t make a decision that quick and says he will call back.

Wolfe looks at the clock and at 12:25 there is time for champagne before lunch and has Saul ask Fritz to get it. The door bell rings and it’s Orrie, who just got bounced from the CAN building, so he gets in on the briefing and champagne too.

Looks like things are coming to a head! And about time. 19 days…

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 17

Chapter 17 starts off with Kenneth Meer coming early, a few minutes before 3. He drives a green Jaguar. Nice cars, at that time anyway.

He resents having to come on Saturday afternoon.

Wolfe says he had hoped to have more information on a point he wanted to discuss with him but it hadn’t come. However since he’s already there Wolfe wants to discuss his bloody hands.

There are quite a few guesses that Wolfe goes over with him concerning his source of distress and the title of this book comes into play here in the line:

Or you hadn’t, but you knew or suspected who had, and your conscience was galling you; your imagined bloody hands were insisting, please pass the guilt.

Meer likes that line.

Wolfe says:

“So do I. Mr. Goodwin will too. He once said that I ride words bareback. But the devil of it is that after more than three weeks the guesses are still guesses, and it may possibly help to mention them to you. Have you a comment?”

Meer says no to all of the questions Wolfe puts to him at this point.

Wolfe asks him why he told a man that if they wanted to know how it happened they should concentrate on Helen Lugos?

Meer denies he said it.

Archie tells him that he said it to Pete Damiano soon after it happened.

Meer says Pete would say anything.

Wolfe says things to him and tells him that he was going to ask the same question he had asked Helen that morning and then asks what he and Miss Lugos talked about in the early afternoon on Monday, May 19th shortly after lunch.

Meer doesn’t remember but wants to know what she said.

Wolfe is a bit peeved. He has Archie show Meer out.

When Archie returns Wolfe asks if he needs to apologize to him, and that he should have gone before lunch.

Archie says no apology needed and that the number is on his pad as usual, goes and gets his bag from the hall, the Heron from the garage and heads to Lily’s “glade” in Westchester.

And that’s it for chapter 17 in our Saturday countdown. I get the impression that Wolfe is not real happy with Mr. Meer. 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 16

Chapter 16 starts off with Archie and Orrie having an argument over Orrie wanting to charge Wolfe for him to take a female CAN researcher to Atlantic City. Archie wants to know if Orrie wants leave a message for his wife, Jill. After some more discussion they come to a lump sum for the weekend, for which, Archie says, bought the client nothing.

Fred is drawing a blank.

Saul is getting information but nothing particularly useful.

Helen Lugos is 10 minutes early so gets to spend them with a mere agent again. 😉

Wolfe comes in and once seated with orchids arranged, turns to her and tells her that he thinks that she lied and that he tells her that to establish the temper of the conversation.

He again asks her if she has any idea about who planted the bomb and she tells him that she doesn’t know.

He also wants to know more about her relationship with Meer.

She says that there is none but that they work at the same place. Upon prodding she admits that he would like it to be more.

Wolfe then asks her if she reads books.

I said I wasn’t going to quote any more but this is too good to pass up…

She did what everybody does when asked an unexpected and irrelevant question. Her eyes widened and her lips parted. For two seconds exactly the same as if he had asked her if she ate cats. Then she said, “Why – yes. I read books.”

I just love that line!

Wolfe talks to her a bit more and then asks one more question, he says more for what the question will tell her than for what he will get out of her answer.

He asks what she and Meer talked about in her office shortly before lunch the day before the bombing.

She leaves without another word.

Archie comes back to the office after watching to make sure she shut the door and Wolfe has rung for beer.

“Tell me once more,” I said, “that I understand women better than you do. It gives me confidence. But don’t ask me to prove it. I said two weeks ago that she didn’t open the bag and shake it. I also said she didn’t plant the bomb, but now I don’t know. Did Copes strikingly suggest that she did?”

Wolfe growls and laments that weekend with no information from Fred or Saul and then picks up the top item from the stack of morning mail. The $65,000 check…

Again, there is a lot more of interest in this chapter. Good reading and more background information too.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 15

Saul, Fred, and Orrie come at 10 Friday morning and discuss the tape.

Wolfe comes down from the plant rooms at 11 and asks if they have a program.

Wolfe has a glimmer but won’t tell them exactly what it is. He wants them to go over some of the same ground but concentrate on who if anyone knew about the LSD.

Fred gets taken off the terrorists and told to check and is to see if he can find who in the police department knows about the LSD.

Saul wants to know what was strikingly suggestive but Wolfe isn’t playing.

They go to snoop.

Archie wants to know what he is to do and is told to get Miss Lugos at 11 Saturday morning and Mr. Meer at 3 Saturday afternoon.

Though it’s a June weekend he calls…

Short chapter and a good one. There is some interesting interplay between Wolfe and the crew in this chapter that we don’t usually get to see. There are also some good lines but being at the end of the time allotted to this book and a bit pressed for time due to situations in real life, I will pass on including any. I’ll try to get another chapter or two tonight and finish tomorrow.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 14

The ad ran on page 6 of the Times Thursday morning and on page 9 of the Gazette that afternoon. Wolfe had added a couple of conditions

They had discussed the probability of the cops watching house and bugging the phone and decided nothing could be done about it, but as two can play that game, they would record all conversations either in person or on the phone. With the bank balance fat again the Wolfecateers have been rehired and at 2 pm Tuesday afternoon were in the front room playing pinochle.

A foreigner by the name of Nasir ibn Bekr calls wanting to see Wolfe about the ad. Since when asked if he has information, he says that he isn’t sure, and screwballs are always sure, Archie tells him to stay there and goes in to talk to Wolfe. When Wolfe tells him to bring him, Archie turns around to find him there already.

After putting him in the yellow chair as it was closer to him than the Red Leather Chair, Archie goes and closes the hall door so the help could get by and take a look at the visitor through the peephole behind the Waterfall Picture.

As Archie crosses back to his disk Nasir remarks that of course the conversation was being recorded so Archie tells him that he won’t bother taking notes. 😉

We learn that there is yet another possible group of people that have it in for CAN vice-president Amory Browning. Nasir says that he is one of a group of Arab terrorists that are active in the country and that they had 3 bombs and had discussed setting one off in the CAN building and if possible Brownings office. As he has been a member of the group for less than a year they don’t quite trust him (and I can see why!) so he hasn’t got a lot of specific information.

He does a lot of talking and then tries to explain why he is betraying his fellow terrorists. He offers a torn dollar bill to as identification should he not be able to claim the reward.

Wolfe asks if he speaks Arabic and when Nasir says “Of Course”

More questions and then Nasir says something that Archie can’t understand but thinks is a question.

Wolfe understands and answers in english. He wants to know Nasir’s real name and other things that he isn’t going to get but offers him the use of the back exit as the Brownstone is under surveillance.

Nasir declines and says that he can’t be followed. (?) He then leaves.

Archie tells the crew that it’s clear and they come into the office.

Fred doesn’t think he is the bomber.

Orrie thinks he is a member of The League of Jewish Patriots.

Saul says no that he is a Jew but not that kind and that he doesn’t believe that they were involved as it happened on the day CAN was to choose a new president.

Wolfe has Archie give the crew the list of names and address but he doesn’t think there is a real lead here either.

Archie gives us a sampling of other kooks that the ad brought out but nothing is at all promising.

By Thursday evening Archie is so low that he was trying to decide what to sell if something didn’t break soon. Wolfe was rereading a book which Archie tells us he only does when he is low.

And the doorbell rang. It’s Dennis Copes, who breezes in, walks over to Wolfe and sticks his hand out. Wolfe actually shakes hands with him!

He then sits and comments on the ad, wanting to know which Agency wrote it.

Wolfe tells him that it was Archie.

He continues in this vein for a time and gets down to business, which is something he says he should have told the police long ago but the money was just too tempting.

He goes on to admit to knowing about the LSD! He claims to have been in Brownings office when he overhears Helen Lugos’ and Kenneth Meer talking about Odell doping the whisky. He says Meer tells Helen to not open the drawer the next day and then he though Helen was going to come check the office and got out in a hurry.

Wolfe wants to know more about Meer and questions Copes for quite a while.

Copes points out that the fact that he knows about the LSD should be proof enough of his story.

Wolfe tells him without support his information is worthless.

They talk and Wolfe tells him to tell no one anything and then asks to see his notebook.

After a few more questions Wolfe leans back in his chair and closes his eyes. Archie:

I honestly don’t know if he realizes that that’s no way to end a conversation. I do.

Which ends chapter 14. They have some information anyway since no one is supposed to know about the LSD. Maybe the next chapter will give a bit more.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 13

Archie starts this chapter chortling. It’s a good second paragraph too. 😉

He’s trying to decide on what tactic to take with Wolfe and decides on a flank attack and then to play it by ear.

When he enters the office Wolfe is working eh Double-Crostic in the Times and he doesn’t interrupt, instead goes to the safe and gets the checkbook, then to his desk and starts working on the June stubs.

In about 8 minutes Wolfe asks what the balance is and using that opening Archie says that depends and hands him Exhibit A.

Wolfe responds: “Grrr.”

Archie explains that the heading could have have his name instead of Wolfe’s and brings in that she asked how much Browning paid him.

He lays it on fairly heavily and compares his writing to Norman Mailer.
Wolfe isn’t impressed and goes:

“Bah. That peacock? That blowhard?”
“All right, make it Hemingway.”

Wolfe then asks if there was a typewriter there and as Archie explains that there was, gives the paper a hard look.

Archie then tells him that the balance would be a little under $6000 if he mailed the check back to her, but that if Wolfe agreed to trying to buy the information they needed that she would send another check for $65,000.

I’m gonna let Archie tell the last part:

What he did was typical, absolutely him. He didn’t say “Very well” or “Tear the check up” or even “Confound it.” He picked the thing up, read it slowly, scrowling at it, put it to one side under a paper weight, said “I’m doing some smoked sturgeon Muscovite. Please bring a bottle of Madeira from the cellar,” and picked up the Double-Crostic.

Short Chapter but at least it looks like Wolfe will give it another go.

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 12

Six days later, on Sunday, June 22, the whole crew is in the office and Wolfe asks Archie how much has been spent so far. Archie tells him around $3000 or a little more.

Wolfe tells him to call Mrs. Odell and tell her that he is quitting and to draw her a check for the entire amount of her retainer.

Not good!

Archie goes into a flashback. 😉

He tells us that plenty of things have happened, that there had been 3 thunderstorms in a row.

The first being Jill Cather, Orrie’s wife threatening to leave him because he didn’t get home till 5 in the morning after taking a CAN female researcher out to dinner and a show.

Lead up to the next book?

The second and third I’ll leave up to you to read about as they don’t appear to have bearing on the case.

Archie says he was occupied with answering at least a hundred phone calls and washed his hands and face several times too. 😉

Wolfe has talked with Abbott and Cramer. Abbott had come over on Thursday evening to talk to Wolfe confidentially but Wolfe was having none of that and told him so.

A good line or two in this part.

Abbot: “You use words don’t you?”
“Yes. On occasion, in six languages, which is a mere smattering. I would like to be able to communicate with any man alive. As it is, even you and I find it difficult. Are you sure you can prevent me getting more or less than you want me to from what you tell me or ask me?”
Abbott’s raised eyebrows made his long, pale face look even longer. “By god, I can try.”

Love Archie’s description of Abbott’s face.

Abbott wants the murder cleared up and NOW! He’s retiring in a few weeks and he doesn’t want to leave in a cloud of suspicion and distrust.

He finally gets to the point of his coming there and wants Wolfe to return Mrs. Odell’s retainer and CAN will hire him to find the bomber.

Wolfe isn’t fooled and speaks just as plainly but isn’t having any and tells him to go. Abbott hangs around for another half hour trying to pry info out of them but Archie says neither he nor Wolfe found out a thing.

When he gets back into the office after seeing Abbott to the door Wolfe mutters that part of the proposal was worth considering, returning the retainer.

He considers it for the next 2 days and we are back in the present (past).

Archie makes the check out, noting that it’s the first one he has ever drawn for an even $100,000. Wolfe signs it and Saul wants to know how much it’s for. Wolfe tells Archie to show them and then Saul has an idea! Have her run an ad in the paper offering the hundred grand for information.

Wolfe isn’t gonna do it! BIG ego here…

The Wolfecateers leave and Archie calls Mrs Odell to arrange a meeting to give her the bad news.

Wolfe is cooking lunch and making larded shad roe casserole with anchovy butter and parsley and chervil and shallots and marjoram and black pepper and cream and bay leaf and onion and butter.

Archie goes and tells Wolfe that she will see him at 5:30 gets a nod and goes to his room.

You get to read about the next four hours in the book if you want to know what went on. 😉

After eating Archie goes back to his room and writes. When he goes down at a little before 4:30 he has his 3rd draft in his pocket. He gets the Heron and goes to Mrs. Odell’s.

Once there he gives her the check and tells her that Wolfe is bowing out. She immediately thinks that Browning had gotten to Wolfe and wants to know how much it took.

Archie defends Wolfe’s honor and suggests that she put an advertisement in the papers that there is a $50,000 reward for information.

They discuss it and after he lays it all out:

“You’re pretty good,” She said.
“I try hard. Whence all but me have fled.”
“The burning deck.”
“What burning deck?”
“You don’t read the right poems.” I swiveled. the chair. “Sit here? That pen is stingy, I tried it. Mine’s better.”

She says her’s is too and goes to her desk. She makes another suggestion, to not use $50,000 but use an in-between figure like 65 or 85,000 instead.

He tells her to just change it and draw a line through the 50,000

So now Archie gets to try to talk Wolfe into it… Better him than me. 😉

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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Please Pass The Guilt – Chapter 11

Archie is feeling the lack of even a hint at the beginning of this chapter.

The Saul, Fred, and Orrie contingent has nothing and comes up with nothing in the 2 hours they spend with Wolfe that Sunday morning.

Archie says that the only thing worth reporting that day was that he and Lily went to Shea Stadium and watched the Mets take the Cardinals, 7 to 3.

Monday morning, Wolfe cuts and Archie packs, a box of orchids for Miss Helen Lugos. When Archie gets through to her after 4 she thanks him. He tells her that they are a bribe to get her to go out with him to talk.

She isn’t interested in talking to the hired help but will talk to Wolfe and agrees to be there at 6 pm.

Archie goes to the kitchen for a glass of milk and to tell Fritz that he is washed up!

Fritz tells him that it is the woman that is washed up, not Archie and makes him feel better.

Archie goes to the roof to tell Wolfe that she will be there at 6. Though not amused Wolfe agrees that Archie didn’t break a rule.

Archie goes back to the kitchen to get a gin and tonic. On top of milk. Just not sure about the bitter of tonic water on milk.

Wolfe gets to the office on the dot of six, waits till she is seated in The Red Leather Chair and tells her that he has an errand in the kitchen and leaves her to be questioned by Archie.

Archie’s remarks get to her and she starts to get mad and then laughs: “with her mouth open and her head back, and I think I grinned with pleasure. I really did.”

That breaks the tension and he gets down to the questions.

She says no one but Browning checked his whiskey supply.

After the questions about her and Browning get intimate she tells him that Kenneth Meer has big ideas about his future and is counting on Amory Browning to help him along. Another question and she starts to get tense and asks for a drink after all.

After she drinks a couple of fingers of bourbon and a water chaser Archie starts again and wants to know where she was every minute of that day, Thursday, May 20.

He gets 4 pages in his notebook out of it.

He timed it perfectly as she got to the explosion at 7:30 just as Fritz came and closed the office door so the sound of voices would not disturb Wolfe as he ate.

Since dinner is ready and it’s duckling with mushrooms and wild rice and wine, he hastens her departure and digs in.

After coffee Wolfe asks “Well?”

To which Archie simply says “No.” and then reports verbatim.

The only thing that they got is that there was about 2 hours that she wasn’t there and that Archie doesn’t think that she planted the bomb. He thinks that she may have an idea of some kind but doesn’t have a clue what it is.

Wolfe is not amused. He goes to the shelves for a book…

The end of chapter 11 and still nothing. Not looking good for the home team!

Comments, corrections, criticism requested.

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