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14Jun/140

Book Review: Family Affair

This is the very last Wolfe novel written by Rex Stout. The book begins with a literal bang as a favorite waiter of Wolfe's comes seeking Wolfe's advice in the middle of the night. Archie puts him up in the South Room for safety, only for the man to be blown up by a bomb that rocks Archie and Wolfe's world.

This case is personal for Wolfe who is determined to catch the killer himself. It's an unprecedented case where we get a whiff of Watergate, Wolfe turns down a one hundred thousand dollar fee, and ends up going to jail all leading up to a conclusion that was shocking at the time and still is if you don't search the Internet too much before reading.

Written while Stout was 85, the book was clearly intended to bring the series to an end. I lost count of the number of times Archie said something happened for the first time. In one scene, Archie gives one person a thousand to one odds on something and he ends up being wrong. Cramer shows a softer side even while Wolfe abandons all pretense of anything but perfunctory cooperation with the police.

This is a book that you should ideally read at the end of the other Stout books, or at least after reading a couple dozen. You can't appreciate how deeply ingrained the rules that get broken in this book are unless you understand the world these characters inhabit.

Family Affair doesn't give us new insights into Wolfe's past but it does tell us a lot about what matters most to him and his closest associates: honor. There is an honor in being the greatest detective in the world and someone people can turn to, and there's honor in working for him and woe to the person who puts that at risk.

The book is a perfect finale and it leaves me a little bit hesitant to pick up Robert Goldsborough's Wolfe novels, because I can't imagine anything doing a good enough job to follow up this story.

Rating: Very Satisfactory

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

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14Jun/140

EP1286: Police Headquarters: Mrs. Smallwood Killed and Dr. Thonton’s Wife Missing

The police investigate a murder and search for a motive in Mrs. Smallwood Killed. 

A doctor report his wife missing in Dr. Thornton's Wife Missing. 

Episodes 24 and 25 (1932)

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13Jun/140

EP1285: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Ellen Dear Matter

Bob Bailey

Johnny is hired to protect jewels purchased a wealthy businessman in Mexico but finds the jewels were lost at sea...or were they?

Original  Air Date: January 6, 1957

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12Jun/140

EP1284: Nick Carter: The Mystery of Hangman’s Wood

Lon Clark
Nick Carter investigates the legend of an apparition at  Hangman's wood.

Original Air Date: May 20, 1945

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11Jun/140

EP1283: Philip Marlowe: Persian Slippers


Gerald Mohr

The only clue Marlowe has to the disappearance of a wealthy woman is the name of a skid row fortune teller.

Original Air Date: October 3, 1948

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10Jun/140

EP1282: Pat Novak for Hire: Father Lahey

Jack Webb
A priest hires Pat Novak to intercept an escaping convict. However, when Novak allows the convict to make an unplanned stop, trouble of the lethal kind ensues.

 

Original Air Date: April 2, 1949

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9Jun/140

EP1281: Pursuit: Pursuit of the Tall Man

Ted de Corsia

The police searched for a tall man believed to be behind a series of robberies.

Original Air Date: January 6, 1950

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7Jun/140

Radio Show Review: Incredible…But True

This week, I'm going to take a look at the 1950s radio series Incredible But True.

While there was a fifteen minute version of the series Incredible But True that aired in the early 1950s, the version which survives today is the three minute syndicate program.

The eighty existing programs focus on “true” stories of the strange, the unusual, and the unexplained, and there are some interesting ones with church organs playing without explanation, an Ambassador disappearing in the 19th in a public place with no explanation as to what happened, and weird phenomena and apparitions that couldn’t be explained by science. It’s all interesting stuff, but somewhat flawed.

Oftentimes, the show will press for some bizarre explanation with no proof there’s anything to explain. In one case, a woman disappeared in New York City and on the same day a swan appeared in a place where swans weren’t normally seen. The suggested link: Perhaps, the woman was turned into a swan.

And even those stories that don’t suffer from such gargantuan leaps in reason suffer from the limit of a 3 minute story. We’re often given a somewhat complex story and only one solution. Good programs on unexplained phenomena allow for multiple explanations, which really fuels listeners or viewer imagination.

In the end, Incredible but True isn’t bad if you’re looking for three quick minutes of entertainment with some unusual stories, but the limits of the format often leave a less than satisfying result.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0

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7Jun/140

EP1280: Police Headquarters: Andy Green Killing and Mrs. North Robbery

A young man is the only witness to the murder of a police officer in The Andy Green Killing. 

A woman is robbed and her husband

Episodes: 21 and 23

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6Jun/141

EP1279: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Squared Circle Matter

Bob Bailey
Johnny suspects that an insured punch drunk boxer is being set up to die by his manager who hopes to cash in on the insurance policy.

Original Air Date: December 30, 1956

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