Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"The Mother Hunt" by Rex Stout

I've seen the Nero Wolfe Mystery version of this many times, so I was never in doubt of how Nero Wolfe would solve the mystery of who left a baby in a wealthy widow's vestibule and then killed a couple of women.  I must admit that anymore, I don't read these books for the mysteries in them -- I read them to spend time with Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe and their cohorts.  Hanging out with my imaginary friends for a hundred pages or so is what keeps me coming back for more, and the superb mysteries are simply a bonus.  Because the mysteries are excellent too!  If you love mysteries and haven't tried this classic series, you are missing out.

Archie is at his most charming here, romancing their client in his own delectable Archie way.  He almost never enters a relationship with a client, and this one gets pretty serious, so you know this woman must be fairly special.  

This one was written in the 1960s, and it does have a more modern feel to it than many of the earlier novels.  The issues of unwed motherhood and marital infidelity are important parts of the case, and while no salacious details are shared, the word "abortion" does crop up once.  Very edgy for the day, I'm sure.  But as usual, Wolfe is not interested in who is hooking up with whom, except as it might have bearing on who murdered whom.

Particularly Good Bits:

He was tall and broad and handsome, with a big smile that went on and off like a neon sign (p. 58).

"Nothing corrupts a man so deeply as writing a book; the myriad temptations are overpowering" (p. 59).

No man with any sense assumes that a woman's words mean to her exactly what they mean to him (p. 98).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for the content mentioned above, and for a few more swear words than I'm used to in a Nero Wolfe book.


  1. I am so happy that you introduced me to Nero Wolfe. I like Nero Wolfe, but I love Archie. He is so cheeky. I love his descriptions of Wolfe. I just finished reading "And Be A Villain". I bought myself a three-in-one volume when we were at a used book store recently.

    1. And I'm so happy you like this series! I agree -- I like Nero fine, but I love and adore Archie. He's cheeky, whiplash-smart, gallant, funny, and in all ways quite fabulous.

      I read And Be a Villain a couple of years ago. I love that the title is an allusion to Hamlet :-D

      I've been buying these at used book stores and library book sales and thrift stores for about 15 years now, and I'm only missing 9 now! But I've read less than half of the ones I own. I try to sort of savor them and only read 2 or 3 new ones a year.

      I really like the TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery -- that's how I was introduced to the books. They're not entirely suitable for small kids -- they stick very closely to the books, so the content you get in the books is about what you get in the show. Maury Chaykin plays Wolfe beautifully, and Timothy Hutton is superb as Archie. If you ever happen on them somewhere, I think you'd dig them.

  2. I try to limit my Nero Wolfe reading as well. I also try to do that with Philip Oppenheim. Have you heard of him? I LOVE his books and have a lot on my Kindle because they are FREE.
    I'm going to have to look for the TV series. It sounds good. I think it's something my husband and I could enjoy together.

    1. Do you mean E. Phillips Oppenheim? Nope, never read anything by him. What would you recommend I start with?

      The TV series is excellent -- set in the '50s with delicious costumes and sets. They do it sort of like a repertory theater troupe, where of course the same actors play the main characters all the time (Wolfe, Archie, Felix, Cramer, Saul, Fred, Orrie, etc.), but then the non-recurring characters are played by the same bunch of actors playing different roles each episode. Takes a wee bit of getting used to, but then it becomes really amusing watching them play some very varied characters from one story to the next. Cowboy and I have a blast watching these together of an evening -- we've seen both seasons twice, and many eps more often than that.

    2. So we just watched our first one. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband is feeling sick tonight and feel asleep, but what he saw he enjoyed. Thanks for telling me about this. I'm always looking for things for us to watch that we can both enjoy.

    3. Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! The only thing I truly dislike about that show is that there are only two seasons of it :-( I want at least four!


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