Since Christmas of last year, I have been reading through Rex Stout's And Four To Go, a collection of four novellas featuring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. All but one of the novellas is set around a holiday, so I have featured each one on the associated holiday. Today we have a Fourth of July story.
One of Nero Wolfe's eccentricities is that he will do almost anything to avoid leaving his home. In most cases he is an armchair detective, and never has any desire to visit the scene of the crime. Yet his antipathy for leaving home goes beyond that. He doesn't like to travel by any means of transportation and won't be driven by anyone but Archie. There are always exceptions, of course. I usually enjoy the stories and novels that take Wolfe out of his normal setting.
In this novella, Wolfe has been hounded into speaking at a Fourth of July picnic for the United Restaurant Workers of America (URWA). In return, one of the representatives of that group will stop hounding Fritz, Wolfe's cook, to join the group. During the speeches, one of the important members of the group is killed. It turns out only a few people (those giving speeches, including Wolfe) could be responsible. The denouement is not up to Stout's usual standards, but the shenanigans that take place up to that point are fun.
Even I, a big Nero Wolfe, was not overly impressed with this novella. It does not have the same charm as the other two from And Four To Go that I read in the last few months. Many of the regular recurring characters did not appear, including Fritz. But it was still entertaining enough for me.
The other two novellas were "Easter Parade" and "Christmas Party". Click on the link for reviews.
This brings me to the last novella in And Four To Go: "Murder is No Joke." I will be reading that one soon.