Month: October 2011

EP0516: Barrie Craig: The Long Way Home

William Gargan

Barrie Craig is hired by a woman to  protect from her estranged husband-a dangerous killer, but Craig senses something is wrong with the whole set up.

Original Air Date: July 8, 1952

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Book Review: Plot It Yourself

In Plot It Yourself, Rex Stout follows the old writing axiom of, “Write what you know.”

A joint writers-publishers committee turns to Wolfe to stop a plagiarism swindle. Four authors created successful novels and plays were sued by others writers who claiming that the successful works were stolen from them. The unknowns all cashed in with settlements or court victories which cost writers   and publishers in money and reputation.

Wolfe gets hold of the fraudulent manuscripts and by comparing the styles, discovers that with one exception, all of them were written by the same writer. However, when he compares that style to that of other writing by the phony claimants, he discovers that none of them wrote the fraudulent manuscripts, which means that the mastermind of the scam could be anyone and that the writers filing false claims are only shills.

Wolfe tries to beg off the case, but is persuaded to take part in a plan by the committee to pay one of the phony authors to obtain the identity of the mastermind. However, before Archie gets to him, the man is murdered much to the embarrassment of Wolfe and Archie. The body count rises quickly and so does the pressure on Wolfe to crack the case.

The murders at the center of the case were the result of Nero Wolfe bungling by failing to have a man guards the accomplices before approaching them. This seems to be a recurring theme in the Wolfe novels of the 1950s. Wolfe bungles led to deaths in If Death Ever Slept and Before Midnight. At this point, it seems to have been overdone. Master detectives shouldn’t require a warning label.

Other than that, the mystery went very well. I had suspected the murderer early on, but Stout was a master at misdirecting the reader, so I’d moved on to other suspects by the end of the novel.

Wolfe was wonderfully eccentric throughout the novel. He went on strike against himself, offended his own self-esteem, and even swore not to eat meat until the case was solved. Wolfe did go a little over the top when Wolfe spent the last few pages complimenting the murderer and building their self-esteem.

The only other thing to note is that a writer, I found the whole discussion of plagiarism swindles fascinating, however I could see someone who wasn’t a writer being less thrilled with the long and involved discussion that prefaces the case.

For my part, I’ll give it a:

Rating: Satisfactory

You can find all the Nero Wolfe books in Kindle, Audiobook, and book form on our Nero Wolfe page.

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Mr. Monk’s Top 20 List, Part Three

See 16-20 and honorable mentions.

15) Mr. Monk and the Panic Room (Season 3, Episode 2):  This is a classic locked room mystery. A man is found murdered in his personal panic room and his chimp is found holding the murder gun. In addition, multiple shots were fired foreclosing the possibility of suicide.  Sharona takes a shine to the chimp, and takes it away from Animal Control to avoid it being put to death. It’s up to Monk to find out what really happened. This episode also featured some zaniness as the Captain tries to find out if the Chimp could have fired the gun by trying to provoke the chimp with an empty gun (or at least one the Captain thought was empty.)

14. Mr. Monk v. the Cobra: (Season 3, Episode 11): The martial arts star, “The Cobra” is believed to have been long dead. However, he apparently comes back to murder a man who wrote a tell-all book about him. Monk is on the case, searching for the truth. At the same time, Natalie is upset when she learns that while struggling to pay her, Monk is keeping up Trudy’s office. This episode has a very solid ending and a great denoument as Monk gets very close to death.

13) Mr. Monk and the Big Reward  (Season 4, Episode 13): Once again, Natalie’s pay is an issue and she wants Monk to get more money. This time, Natalie wants Monk to find a missing diamond that has a million dollar reward attached to it. However, to solve the case, Monk has to beat three other archetype detectives who figure out the easiest way to collect is to just follow Monk around. Hilarity ensues, along with a fun mix of guest detectives.

12) Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico (Season 2, Episode 2): A truly bizarre death sends Monk and Sharona South of the border. A young man dies when his parachute fails, but the medical examiner says the cause of death is drowning. To make matters worse, someone is trying to kill Monk. When Monk arrives, he finds life in Mexico difficult without his favorite brand of bottled water available, Monk suffers mightily, and has to solve the case and get out of Mexico quickly.  A very funny episode with a great denoument.

11) Mr. Monk Goes Home Again (Season 4, Episode 2) Monk’s secnd visit home to his brother Ambrose comes on Halloween as their estranged father is supposed to come for a visit. However, a murderer is loose, having shot an armored car guard with his own gun. And someone is attacking Trick-or-Treaters who have gone to Ambrose’s house and stealing their candy.  One of the show’s better mix of comedy, mystery, and some poignant moments between the brothers Monk.

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EP0515: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Transpacific Matter

John Lund

Johnny goes to a war-torn Hong Kong to find out the truth behind a suspicious fire.

Audition: November 1952

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EP0514: Sherlock Holmes: The Laughing Lemur of High Tower Heath

Sherlock Holmes is up against an old legend that states a young child who is doomed to die.

Original Air Date: October 26, 1947

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