cover image Fade to Black

Fade to Black

Robert Goldsborough, Robert Goldborough. Bantam Books, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-07060-6

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe is arguably one of the two or three most beloved detectives in fiction, and this fifth volume of Goldsborough's authorized re-creations of the series hero provides yet another opportunity for purists to argue whether he has captured the spirit or merely the form of the originals. This flat and not very mysterious tale will probably support the latter argument. Wolfe and wisecracking Archie Goodwin are hired to find out who is leaking a small advertising agency's secrets to a large and powerful competitor. As is often the case, Wolfe is not terribly interested in the proceedings, not even when the investigation widens to include the murder of a young executive who apparently knew the truth--and he must be constantly cajoled by Archie to keep things moving. All the set pieces involving Wolfe's many idiosyncrasies, the various meals served at his West 35th Street brownstone and irate visits by the irascible Inspector Cramer seem forced, rather than familiar and comfortable, and the classic final gathering of all involved lacks drama and suspense. This one is strictly for fans who can't get enough of the fat man. (Oct.)