Monday, May 15, 2017

Loren Estleman, Nearly Nero

Loren Estelman, Nearly Nero:  The Adventures of Claudius Lyon, the Man Who Would Be Nero Wolfe
Gallery Books.  © 2017 Loren Estelman

Eight (unless I miscounted) previously published stories about the detection exploits of Claudius Lyon, narrated by his assistant, Arnie Woodbine.  Lyon (who inherited a fortune) has fashioned himself in in the image of Nero Wolfe, including his on private (but non-live-in) chef, Gus.  He grows tomatoes (having a brown thumb), unassisted.  And he completes the household by hiring Arnie Woodbine (sounds a lot like Archie Goodwin is you slur your speech and say it quickly).  (He does not live in Manhattan, but on Avenue J in Brooklyn.)  Lyon takes no pay for his efforts (he’s not licensed, and the bunco squad detective at the local precinct would love to bust him).  In this world, I should note, Nero Wolfe is a real PI, not a fictional character.

Arnie is a con man recently out of prison, and serves as our narrator.  The writing is smooth (I would not have expected anything less of Estelman), but the “cases” are rather thin, and  the solutions (which were all fairly obvious) seemed to less from deduction or from Arnie’s leg work (which was, in any case, largely confined to finding creative ways to supplement his salary) than from coincidence and leaps of intuition.

As an aficionado of the Wolfean world, I found the collection barely worth the time.  A reader who is not already a fan of Nero and Archie and the gang will probably not find this to be a particularly rewarding was to spend a few hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment