cover image IF DEATH EVER SLEPT: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

IF DEATH EVER SLEPT: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Rex Stout, , read by Michael Prichard. . Audio Editions, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57270-252-3

This latest entry in the estimable Nero Wolfe audio canon is a veritable time machine, transporting listeners back not only to the upscale New York City of the 1950s, but also to an era when wit and literacy flourished in the mystery genre. Prichard again proves that he is the perfect Archie Goodwin, surely the most interesting sidekick of them all—the voice of Stout's most liberal instincts as well as a shrewd detective in his own right. The tale begins with a psychological duel between Goodwin and Wolfe as funny as a Kaufman and Hart play (indeed, a quote from George S. Kaufman sneaks into the text), reminding listeners how sharp an ear Stout (1886–1975) had for the edges and nuances of relationships. As usual, the plot is the work's least important aspect—although this one, about a crass tycoon who hires Wolfe and Goodwin to expose his cheating daughter-in-law, does contain a few surprises. What stays in the mind are the sharply etched images (in black and white, like the best photographs from the period) of a relatively recent but completely vanished world of glamour, greed and human weakness. Based on the Viking hardcover. (Mar.)