Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review of Death of a Doxy by Rex Stout (Viking, 1966)

Orrie Cather is in a bind. He’s engaged to be married, but has been having an affair with a woman who is unwilling to let him go. Then she is murdered and Orrie is the number one suspect. Fortunately for Orrie he works for Nero Wolfe, the celebrated private detective. Wolfe believes that Orrie is innocent but the problem will be proving it. Soon a new twist is added to the investigation. The murdered woman was a doxy – the kept woman of rich businessman, and that man will pay Wolfe fifty thousand dollars if he can solve the case and keep his name a secret. Slowly Wolfe, his faithful assistant, Archie, and the rest of the team winkle out some clues. Eventually they have a suspect. But how can they ensnare the murderer, spring Orrie, and keep the sugar daddy’s name a secret?

Death of a Doxy was the forty second instalment of the Nero Wolfe series, published in 1966 (the first in the series was published in 1934). In this outing, Wolfe and the narrator, Archie, are tasked with clearing the name of one of their detectives accused of murder. The case is already a bit of a puzzle when it’s made a little more tricky by the addition of a silence clause – the sugar daddy of the victim will pay handsomely for his name to remain unknown. It’s a challenge they’re prepared to accept. At this stage of the series, Wolfe and Archie are well drawn characters, there’s a deep well of back story, and Stout is versed in crafting a story that has intrigue, a neat puzzle, well-staged set pieces, and nicely drawn characters. The storytelling is tight and all show not tell. Stout keeps the reader guessing as to the ending, which is a little ambiguous, though no less satisfying for that. Overall, a quick, entertaining read.


TracyK said...

A very nice review of this book. I have read all of his books 3 or 4 times so I don't even see the flaws anymore, and read them for the characters and back story.

Yvette said...

Orrie Cather and his women - jeez. Not one of my favorite Nero Wolfe books, Rob, but certainly one I've read more than once since any Rex Stout is better than no Rex Stout. :)