cover image The Battered Badge: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

The Battered Badge: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Robert Goldsborough. Mysteriouspress.com, $14.99 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-5

Goldsborough does a nice job of shaking up the status quo in his 13th Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin pastiche (after 2017’s Murder, Stage Left). Lester Pierce, the director of the Good Government Group known as Three-G, who singled out Insp. Lionel Cramer, the head of NYPD’s homicide squad, for criticism over the department’s subpar record cracking down on the mob, has been gunned down in an apparent gangland hit. Cramer is suspected of involvement in the murder, leading his loyal sergeant, Purley Stebbins, to swallow his pride and go to the famous West 35th Street brownstone to ask for help. After Cramer’s suspension, Wolfe eventually gets involved in probing the crime from the comfort of his armchair. He pursues the less obvious theory that organized crime wasn’t responsible by sending Archie, his leg man, out to interview Pierce’s surviving relatives and a colleague at Three-G who may have coveted the top slot. The denouement is a clever inversion of the usual resolutions in Rex Stout’s iconic Nero Wolfe novels of the last century, even if the solution is not Goldsborough’s best. Agent: Erik Simon, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Apr.)