Friday, March 18, 2016

Robert Goldsborough, Stop the Presses!

Robert Goldsborough, Stop the Presses! Road,  2016
ISBN-13: 978-1504023573
Also available as an e-book

This is Goldsborough's 11th attempt at a Nero Wolfe mystery, and it is better than some.  That does not mean it is very good. 

Wolfe is approached (via Lon Cohen) by the owner and the publisher of The Gazette to investigate a potential threat to the paper's star columnist, Cameron Clay.  (Think Walter Winchell with a truly nasty, mean streak.)  Clay has been receiving threatening calls from someone, and suspects that the caller is one of 5 people--a lawyer with a penchant for defending mobsters, a developer whose projects are consistently shoddy, a city council member from Harlem who tends not to show up for council meetings, a former cop convicted of brutality and now out of jail, or his ex-wife , an opera star.  He identifies these 5 in a meeting with Wolfe.  

 Not surprisingly, Clay is found dead, in circumstances that lead the police to conclude it was suicide.  Now, the Gazette folks want Wolfe to find the truth, and preferably to find a murderer.  Wolfe interviews the five candidates individually, and then brings everyone together for the denouement.  The structure is OK, but there's an immense amount of padding; this seems to me to be a novella blown up to book length.  The conversations between Wolfe and Goodwin are excessively long, and seem dragged out simply to add to the word count.  Archie's interactions with Lily Rowan also seem more designed to fill up space than to add to or propel the story.  Even Archie's interactions with the suspects are longer than necessary either to accomplish their point or to reveal character.  Wolfe's meetings with the 5 suspects seem more perfunctory than useful as investigatory tools.

And the conclusion is both telegraphed and disappointing.  This is a book, in my opinion, solely for those for whom Nero Wolfe is the detective; for others, I'd say, spend your time and money elsewhere.

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