Friday, April 10, 2020

Book Beginnings: And Be a Villain

And Be a Villain (Nero Wolfe #13), by Rex Stout. First published 1948. These are the book's first lines:
For the third time I went over the final additions and subtractions on the first page of Form 1040, to make good and sure. Then I swiveled my chair to face Nero Wolfe, who was seated behind his desk to the right of mine reading a book of poems by a guy named Van Doren, Mark Van Doren. So I thought I might as well use a poetry word. 
"It's bleak," I said.

About the Book:
Madeline Fraser, radio talk show host extraordinaire, had a natural dread of dead air. So when one of her on-air guests "signed off" at the mike after drinking a glass of a sponsor’s beverage, it was a broadcaster’s nightmare come true. Enter Nero Wolfe. He agrees to take the case, with his sizable fee contingent on his solving the murder. But to Wolfe’s surprise, everyone connected to the case now tells lies in unison about it. And as the portly detective soon discovers, the secret worth lying about only hides another worth killing for. (--GoodReads)

Initial Thoughts:

I've been looking for soothing reads lately, to take my mind off the current depressing situation, and what could be more soothing than a Nero Wolfe mystery? I read quite a few of these when I was much younger, but there are so many of them (Stout published 33 Nero Wolfe novels, and 41 novellas and short stories between 1934 and 1975), I've still got a huge selection to keep me occupied and calm.

This one begins, as so many do, with Nero Wolfe's assistant and legman Archie Goodwin lamenting how bad Wolfe's financial situation has become. Not to worry — the great man will come up with some high-profile, high-paying case to pursue very soon. Miscreants will be punished. And readers will be dazzled.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Stay safe. Stay calm. And happy reading!

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.


  1. I haven't read any books in this series, but it does sound good. Yes, we must find books that comfort us, and soothing characters can do that.


  2. I think it is funny to read books written in the 40s and 50s. Life was so different then. Hope you are staying safely away from the nasty virus. My Friday Quotes

  3. I haven't read any of the books in this series, even though they are so many! However, I do enjoy a good mystery and I would like to learn more.

    Konna @ The Reading Armchair

  4. If the books don’t work, try cookies — cookies can bring great comfort as well as elastic waist pants

  5. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are the best, for so many reasons. They are classics and I enjoy re-reading them, too. Great choice.


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