Day: August 4, 2013

EP1016: The Line Up: The Potting Peter Case

Wlliam Johnstone

Guthrie investigates the murder of two women.

Original Air Date: February 5, 1952

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Radio Review: Can You Top This

(image courtesy of Digital Deli FTP)

Four guys sitting on a sound stage telling jokes, seeing if anyone can top each other in getting laughs from the audience. 
This was the basic concept of, “Can You Top This?” which ran for 12 years. Listeners would send in their jokes, and it would be read by actor Peter Donald who would spice it up with his own mix of dialects and delivery and then Edward “Senator” Ford, Joe Laurie, Jr., and Harry Hirshfield wouldtry to top Donald’s joke with another one on the same topic. 
Some of the jokes were already had whiskers in the 1940s and 50s, but the timing of the clown table managed to usually make for quite an entertaining show. As mentioned before, dialects were used, but it was only on a rare occasion that a joke was told that would be truly offensive, and never dirty. The show is a great example of the best of the golden age. The program didn’t offer fabulous prizes (the most anyone could win was $25). It was a show that was about, fun, camaraderie, and talent, ledby Peter Donald and the men who made up this fantastic Clown Table.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
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Book Review: Over My Dead Body

In Over My Dead Body, Wolfe’s a young Yugoslav woman claiming to be Wolfe’s long lost adopted daughter shows up at the Brownstone door needing help with a small matter of being accused of stealing some jewels at a fencing academy where she works. However, the case quickly escalates when a murder happens at the academy and key evidence ends up planted on Archie. Also, the book was published in 1940, and the shadow of the European War looms large with plenty of International intrigue.

The mystery is above average and the final twists took me by surprise, but what makes this book a worthwhile read is the insights it provides into Nero Wolfe’s character. Most of Wolfe’s life prior to coming to America remains shrouded in mystery and is rarely addressed in the rest of the corpus. How does a man of action and passion, as Wolfe once was, become a very large detective who toils with life’s intellectual puzzles and avoids as much rigor and action as possible. Over My Dead Body provides more clues on this question than any book in the corpus. While it doesn’t provide explicit answers, we do get a picture of Wolfe’s world-weariness and his dread of the new European War which would later give way to enthusiastic anti-Nazi sentiment that would have Wolfe trying to get into the US Army to fight in, “Not Quite Dead Enough.”

Also in contrast to, The Doorbell Rings, we’re treated to an earlier more cooperative encounter with the FBI as representative of the American people that’s both informative and amusing, with the G-man mostly played for comic relief. In this story, Archie much more of a by-stander and witness, but Wolfe puts on a good show, and Over My Dead Body is a solid entry in the series.

Rating: Very Satisfactory

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

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