cover image Trouble at the Brownstone: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Trouble at the Brownstone: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Robert Goldsborough. Open Road, $16.99 trade paper (258p) ISBN 978-1-5040-6661-7

Set in 1951, Goldsborough’s middling 16th Nero Wolfe mystery (after 2020’s Archie Goes Home) opens on a dramatic note with the arrival of a bloodied Theodore Horstmann, Wolfe’s orchid nurse, at Wolfe’s Manhattan brownstone. Before Horstmann loses consciousness, he gasps, “There were... two of them...” After he’s taken to the hospital, Wolfe asks his legman, Archie Goodwin, to investigate, starting at the apartment building Horstmann recently moved into. Posing as Horstmann’s cousin, ostensibly searching for his missing relative, Archie moves into the comatose victim’s rooms, only to find his neighbors uncommunicative and hostile. The few who do respond have trouble speaking English, leading to suspicions that they’re displaced persons, possibly in the country illegally. The stakes rise when a man Horstmann played bridge with is shot and dumped in the Hudson; oddly, Archie dismisses the possibility of suicide solely because the fatal weapon wasn’t found in the dead man’s hand. The mystery fails to engage, despite being linked to post-WWII historical events, and Archie isn’t conveyed as convincingly as in previous books. Goldsborough seems to be just going through the motions in this one. Agent: Martha Kaplan, Martha Kaplan Agency. (June)