dorinda: Hands reach for two identical glasses, which are labeled "half empty" and "half full". (halfemptyhalffull)
[personal profile] dorinda
I would rank "Man Alive" third of the three stories in Three Doors to Death. Not that it's bad--I like it fine, but I like the others more. I think because "Omit Flowers" has Marko Vukcic, and "Door to Death" has Wolfe way out of his comfort zone in snowy Westchester.

But! "Man Alive" does have its pleasures...

For instance! )

Anyone else been able to give this story a look? Have any thoughts? And don't forget, the discussion of In The Best Families is still open for your input, anytime!

aris_tgd: "This story is a murder mystery--the mystery of MURDER." (Lyttle Lytton Murder Mystery)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
So! We've had some time to talk about In the Best Families (And if you've forgotten, go squee here!) and we should regroup and get our collective breath back before tackling the next round of books.

We skipped Three Doors to Death, and after that next is the short story collection Curtains for Three, and then Murder by the Book. We've been treating the short stories individually; do we still want to do this, or do we want one post per collection?

I'm happy to continue posting the discussions, I love this community and I love these books, but I also love reading your guys' recaps and opinions!

Sept 13-19: "Man Alive"
Sept 20-26: "Omit Flowers"
Sept 27-03: "Door to Death"

Oct 04-10: "The Gun With Wings"
Oct 11-17: "Bullet for One"
Oct 18-24: "Disguise for Murder"

Oct 25-31: Murder by the Book
aris_tgd: "This story is a murder mystery--the mystery of MURDER." (Lyttle Lytton Murder Mystery)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
My apologies. Real life intervened. I had to briefly change my entire appearance and flee to California to adopt a life of crime in order to bring down a criminal mastermind.

But now!

The one you've all been waiting for!

In The Best Families )
aris_tgd: "This story is a murder mystery--the mystery of MURDER." (Lyttle Lytton Murder Mystery)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Well! I was going to post this last week, but Real Life intervened! So let's start this week off right with some Nero Wolfe and the villainous Arnold Zeck!

Original post for And Be a Villain
Original post for The Second Confession

I love both these books so much! I love the radio show on And Be a Villain, it feels like such a real world. Stout uses the trope of Archie going and investigating an office or an organization pretty often, and I feel like he always nails the small-town feel of personalities and petty office intrigues and shenanigans that happen when you have a group of people working together for a long time, especially when some of them happen to be artists or other creative types. I find myself less interested when Archie has to investigate a family or a group of strangers brought together by circumstance; the family stuff is similar but I feel like Stout doesn't quite have the same voice with family drama as he does with workplace drama.

And then The Second Confession! Danger! Murder! Zeck! THE PLANT ROOMS! That scene still gets me every time.

What do you guys think about our first exposure to Arnold Zeck? Did Stout do enough work building him up for the final showdown? Does he feel more like a pulp villain, a crime boss, or a supervillain? And if you were to pick any other Big Bad from popular culture to go head to head in a battle of crime and wits with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, who would it be?
dorinda: Randolph Scott smiles at Cary Grant. (Randolph_Cary)
[personal profile] dorinda
Time for the last couple stories in "Trouble in Triplicate"! I find them enjoyable, with interesting wartime and post-war details, and some great character stuff.

Also, take a look back at the book club post for the first story in the collection, "Before I Die", and see if you have any comments for that as well!



Sorry to go on and on, but these stories have a lot that grab me. What do you think? Anything you noticed, in the plots, the characters, Wolfe & Archie, etc.? Anything you particularly like or don't like?
aris_tgd: "This story is a murder mystery--the mystery of MURDER." (Lyttle Lytton Murder Mystery)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Okay, so I've been a bit ad-hoc about things, but I'd like to open the floor to other people and get volunteers for the next, proper book club posts!

Since there weren't any disagreements to the plan proposed by [personal profile] liviapenn in the last post, the next couple posts to the community should go like this:

Next week (Sun Jul 26-Sat Aug 1): Trouble in Triplicate: "Help Wanted, Male" and "Instead of Evidence". - [personal profile] dorinda, thank you!
Following week (Sun Aug 2-Sat Aug 8): Catch-up post: And Be a Villain, The Second Confession
Following week (Sun Aug 9-Sat Aug 15): In the Best Families

And then I think we should regroup and decide if we want to do the stories in Curtains for Three as individual stories or in one post.

Who would like to post the discussion posts for each of these? They just have to go up sometime during the week! I offer myself as backup host if necessary.
aris_tgd: "Sophi broke down in tears, like a diesel car that had run out of petrol." (Lyttle Lytton Sophi tears car petrol)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Hello, everyone! Thanks so much for jumping in on the last post!

The next set of books has a couple of my favorites: Over My Dead Body, with the introduction of Carla Lovchen and the Montenegro backstory and the ridiculous Madam Zorka, and The Silent Speaker, with all of its board-room politicking and the amaaaaazing Phoebe Gunther! Also, a bunch of short stories, and more fantastic Archie-and-Nero banter than you can shake a trouser leg at.

Over My Dead Body
Where There's a Will
Black Orchids, "Black Orchids"
Black Orchids, "Cordially Invited to Meet Death"
Not Quite Dead Enough, "Not Quite Dead Enough"
Not Quite Dead Enough, "Booby Trap"
The Silent Speaker
Too Many Women

I've always admired the short story/novella-length stories, since it's so difficult to write a satisfying mystery in that length. And I feel like most of Rex Stout's short mysteries work for me.

What are some of your favorite bits from these books?

Does anyone have a favorite killer/killer reveal scene?

Do you think the whole "Talk the murderer into killing himself" thing is another hangover from other mystery writers? I didn't even remember it was a thing in Nero Wolfe until I reread some of these discussion posts. I know Dorothy Sayers had Peter Wimsey do that quite a bit, though. It seems like the kind of behavior Wolfe grows out of.

And last but not least, a bit of business: Do we want to have another catch-up post for the Zeck books, then finish Trouble in Triplicate, then In the Best Families, or do we want to cover Trouble in Triplicate first and then have a catch-up on Zeck? I am happy either way, but I feel like we should throw open the discussion posts on Trouble in Triplicate to signups again.
aris_tgd: "This story is a murder mystery--the mystery of MURDER." (Lyttle Lytton Murder Mystery)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Hello, everyone! I'd like to kick off the reprise of the book club with a chance to go back and refresh our memories about what we've already covered, to give people who weren't here (me) a chance to say some things about the early books and to get us all in the mood to keep going until the end!

Oh, also, I made a banner:

Feel free to use it for all community purposes!

The first half-decade of Nero Wolfe books started with Nero and Archie already settled in the Brownstone with Fritz, Theodore, and a cast of supporting New Yorkers in place. But that isn't to say that Rex Stout didn't make changes as he settled into the world he'd created and decided exactly what he wanted to do with it.

Here are the original book club posts for the first six novels:

Fer-de-Lance as pilot episode
League of Frightened Men
The Rubber Band
The Red Box
Too Many Cooks
Some Buried Caesar

What do you think are some of the most important traits of a Nero Wolfe novel, or the most important characterizations of the core cast of characters, and where do you see those starting to come into play in the early novels? I find it interesting that some of Nero Wolfe's habits are completely set and unchanged from the beginning, but one of his major character beats (his "relapses") is basically gone by the end of this part of the canon. It feels almost like that was one of those tropes lifted from Sherlock Holmes' dark moods which got dropped when Stout started doing his own thing.

What are some favorite moments? I love Lily Rowan conspiring with Wolfe about the sketches in Some Buried Caesar. And of course the discussions about food in Too Many Cooks. And any time that Archie and Wolfe bicker, and whenever Archie gets worried about Wolfe and tries not to show it!

Is there anything that was in the early books that you're sad didn't make it to the later ones?

What's your favorite early Wolfe book? Favorite early Wolfe murder or Wolfe-murderer showdown?

I'll post the next set of recaps in a couple days, depending on how much people are enjoying chatting about these!

Book Club?

Jul. 11th, 2015 04:30 pm
aris_tgd: "This story is a murder mystery--the mystery of MURDER." (Lyttle Lytton Murder Mystery)
[personal profile] aris_tgd
Hey, everyone at [community profile] milk_and_orchids! I know it's been a while since this comm has seen any activity, but we were just about to get to In the Best Families, and I think it would be a shame to stop now! Especially since I just found a ton of Nero Wolfe books and have devoured about ten of them over the last week.

So would anyone be interested in starting the book club up again? I was thinking of hosting a post for all the previous books, in case anyone had some thoughts or wanted to catch up, and then maybe a recap of the Zeck books and the other short stories in the collection we hadn't got to, and then on with In the Best Families.

How are we for interest?
liviapenn: wolfe and archie having breakfast (wolfe: my fandom is super domestic)
[personal profile] liviapenn
Technically, this book of short stories should have come before the last book, but I got mixed up looking at the online chronology. Oh well...

Before I Die  )

What do you guys think? :)

(And does anyone have any thoughts about the A&E adaptation of this case? I have the DVDs, but haven't had a chance to watch it this week. I may make a few comments about it later in the weekend.)

Also, if anyone wants to volunteer to do one of these write-ups, you can comment at the sign-up post here, or PM me.
dorinda: Fat Pony appears in a blaze of light! (Fat_Pony)
[personal profile] dorinda
Apologies I couldn't get this done for Friday--I fell ill and have been completely out of commission. But now I am upright and typing again, so let's get into it--the second Zeck book!

A Commie is a Louse )

Plot Basics )

Side Characters )

Zeck Draws Closer )

Poor Archie In Hindsight )

Wolfe and Archie )

What do you think? Do you like this one?

Edit!: Here's the schedule for the discussion of Trouble in Triplicate!:
  • 02/22/13 - trouble in triplicate - before i die
  • 03/01/13 - trouble in triplicate - help wanted male
  • 03/08/13 - trouble in triplicate - instead of evidence

Does anyone want to do the discussion posts for any of these? (If no one volunteers, [personal profile] liviapenn is willing to do "Before I Die".)
liviapenn: wolfe and archie having breakfast (wolfe: my fandom is super domestic)
[personal profile] liviapenn
Sorry about being late with this book club post! Also, I'm going to be out of town this weekend & don't know what my internet access will be like, so... *waves hands* talk amongst yourselves! *G*

Not to keep ragging on "Too Many Women," but reading "And Be A Villain" is just so much more fun!

And Be A Villain: the discussion  )

Next week, Feb 8, will be the discussion post for "The Second Confession," and the week after that, the three stories in "Trouble in Triplicate" -- does anyone have any preference vs. discussing them one by one, or in 3 posts in the same week? (Also, if anyone wants to volunteer to post the discussion post for "The Second Confession" or one of the bits of "Trouble in Triplicate," just let me know in comments or pm-- otherwise I'll do it. *G*)
liviapenn: wolfe makes a sad face (wolfe: wolfe is sad :()
[personal profile] liviapenn
This week's book is "Too Many Women," or, "the one where a little bit of Archie Goodwin's attitude towards women goes a loooong way."

Review post behind the cut ! )

And, just a reminder, next week's book is "And Be A Villain" (UK title: More Deaths Than One) and the discussion post will be posted on Friday, Feb 1. (If anyone would like to volunteer to post that discussion post, let me know in the comments-- otherwise, I will go ahead and do it.) And the week after that, on Friday, Feb 8, will be the discussion of "The Second Confession".
soupytwist: city street in the rain (umbrella)
[personal profile] soupytwist
The Silent Speaker is next! We start with Archie agreeing with Wolfe, which my notes solemnly inform me does not bode well. Then comes political intrigue, a murder literally on the steps of the Brownstone, and Wolfe missing his orchids for multiple days in a row, by gosh.

The Silent Speaker )

I think this is one a lot to talk about. Anyone? :D
liviapenn: wolfe makes a sad face (wolfe: wolfe is sad :()
[personal profile] liviapenn
Gah, sorry about being late with this, you guys.

So, this is the only Wolfe & Archie wartime mystery! Well, not the only Wolfe and Archie wartime mystery, but the only one where they work together, for the military, on a military matter. We get hints in "Not Quite Dead Enough" and in this story that Archie has done some cases for the Army that would be more like what you'd expect in wartime (tracking down missing equipment, something or other involving a "distinguished visitor from Mexico," etc.) but in this one of course it's got to be a murder case.

The only Wolfe & Archie 'at war' wartime mystery!  )
dorinda: Vintage orange crate label, "Dorinda" brand (Dorinda_label)
[personal profile] dorinda
Here's our first glimpse of Archie and Wolfe in wartime, once the US has gotten into WWII. Archie's in the army, Wolfe has completely flipped out, and Archie's efforts to get Wolfe focused again end up depending on the sudden death of a woman with a secret.

I really like this story (is it considered a book if it's only technically half a book? A novella?)--I think the mystery plot device is simple and neat, and even more, I loooove the emotional/personal content for Wolfe and Archie both. Although I admit, mystery-plot-wise, there is one aspect that really bugs me...

How do you make your mystery mysterious? )
used_songs: (Archie huh)
[personal profile] used_songs
"Cordially Invited to Meet Death"

My edition:
Stout, Rex. Black Orchids. 12th ed. New York City: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979. 190. Print.

Read more... )


What's up with Archie's freak out at the end?

Why on earth is Wolfe so surly in this one?
used_songs: (Archie huh)
[personal profile] used_songs
Black Orchids

My edition: Stout, Rex. Black Orchids. 12th ed. New York City: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979. 190. Print.

Overview: Archie Goodwin is sent to the flower show (repeatedly) to scope out Lewis Hewitt’s black orchids. On the day that Nero Wolfe decides he can’t subsist on second hand information anymore and accompanies Archie, a man is murdered. Seeing an opportunity to get the black orchids, Wolfe involves himself in the case.

my aplogies in advance for sounding like an English teacher )


To me, this story is where Archie and Wolfe hit their groove and sound like the characters I’ve internalized. I wonder if this is just me, based on my experience of encountering these books as a kid and reading them in the order in which I found them at used book stores. Do you find Archie and Wolfe to be especially themselves in this book, or is there a different point in the canon that marks that moment for you?

Wolfe never hesitates to make remarks about social class – “People who inherit wealth don’t have to bother to see things. But certainly Mr. Goodwin saw it, and so did I ….” {Stout 45} - which I’ve always put down to Stout’s political leftism. When a likable character like Archie makes sexist or racist remarks, it's jarring. Do the sexism and racism take you out of the story? Do you attribute these to the author and the times, or do you think they’re commentary and that we should be judging these characters, even Wolfe and Archie, to some extent?

The Black Orchid Mystery: Do They Really Exist?

soupytwist: city street in the rain (umbrella)
[personal profile] soupytwist
This is quintessential, middle-of-the-road Stout, right down to opening the story with Archie doing his best to irritate Wolfe with cutesiness. Wolfe gets approached by the Hawthorne sisters to solve the mystery of their brother's will. Wolfe of course wants to say no, but events, the Brownstone's rapidly decreasing bank balance, and the gods that rule all detective novels mean Wolfe is soon investigating a murder.

Where There's A Will (And Also Some Horticultural Geeking, Not That I Get Overly Happy About That Or Anything) )

Right, I think that's most of my thoughts done. I really enjoyed this. What did everyone else think?
dorinda: Mike and Tino silently clasp hands, their gazes locked. (From "Trapeze".) (Trapeze_clasp)
[personal profile] dorinda
This book gives us our first dose of Montenegro: hints of Wolfe's background there, as well as the tangled politics of the region and his relationship to them. However, despite the international intrigue of the case, Wolfe most definitely does not budge an inch from the brownstone (and he shudders at the very thought of Archie having to go out at night). Maybe he's still recovering from leaving home for the past three books in a row (!!!).

Teega mee bornie roosa )

So, what are your thoughts on this book? And what becomes of the adopted daughter between now and Black Mountain? (Hmm, perhaps we should save that topic for the Black Mountain discussion? Or at least the Black-Mountain-specific part of it, anyway...)

I have to go out of town on Tuesday, and will be gone for about a week. My internet access will be sporadic at best, so I suspect I'll have to catch up on some of the discussion a bit belatedly. Apologies in advance!


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