Saturday, November 24, 2012
"Too Many Cooks" by Rex Stout
I love Nero Wolfe mysteries. They are never less than a joy to read. The dialog sparkles, the plots dazzle, the characters-of-the-day amuse, and the regular characters delight. In other words, precisely what I needed to bring me out of the everything-is-meaningless-and-grasping-for-the-wind funk I was in after This Side of Paradise.
I thought I'd read this one before, as it's in a Nero Wolfe omnibus I found in my parents' basement a couple weeks ago. Surely I read that omnibus (two novels and a trio of short stories) back when I first discovered Rex Stout? But I didn't actually remember any of it while reading, so maybe I just never actually cracked this book, always saving it for when I ran out of library books or something? 'Tis a puzzlement.
At any rate, this is a jolly good mystery. Wolfe is the guest of honor at a meeting of a group of world-renowned chefs at a resort in West Virginia. Which means he has to not only leave his Manhattan brownstone, he has travel on a train. Overnight. Poor Archie Goodwin -- if you've read any of these books or seen the TV series based on them, you know he's not along because he's expecting to have fun.
But they do get to West Virginia with no actual mishaps, and once settled there, of course the murder and mayhem commence. One of the chefs is killed, and several of the others had expressed their malice toward him before he died, including Wolfe's particular friend Marko Vukcic, whose ex-wife was married to the deceased. Fortunately, there's a master sleuth and his trusty aide around to sort everything out.
As a bonus, the recipes for a lot of the dishes described in this mystery are included in the back! I've always wanted to try the dishes Fritz Brenner (Wolfe's resident cook) concocts, and The Nero Wolfe Cookbook is on my Christmas list, but until the day I get that, I might just try out one of the recipes included in this book.
(Originally posted on Hamlette's Soliloquy on Aug. 20, 2012.)