Stout, Rex: (08) Where There’s a Will

Yesterday, I took a round-trip train ride to New York City, and one can only do—actually, one can only carry—so much bar review material around the city. [1] For the same reason, I also didn’t want to bring my hardcover Freedom and Necessity. I chose a paperback by staring at the Nero Wolfe shelf until I spotted a novel that I remembered nothing about; this turned out to be Where There’s a Will. Of course, my sleep-fogged brain picked a book with, oh joy, legal bits! Note to self: Rex Stout was not writing fact patterns for a bar review essay . . .

Legal nitpicking aside (of which I could do plenty, so be glad I spared you), this is a reasonably good one, with some nice dramatic and melodramatic bits. However, the definitive piece of evidence does get withheld from the reader in a particularly annoying way, which a later book (or maybe short story; I forget) tries to make up for. The solution is deducible without it, though, and for a change I actually did (though I have read this before, so it’s not a fair test). Anyway, a perfectly good train-and-lunch book.

[1] I now have a job for the fall, which I am happy about, but my anxiety over the final formal interview was not helped by the realization that this would be the first time I was above-ground in New York City since the summer. (I’d transferred from Penn Station to Grand Central and back a few times, but always on tight schedules, so I stayed underground.) I happened to walk up Broadway a few blocks from the site; I didn’t detour, wanting to be neither a ghoul nor an emotional wreck for the rest of the day, but I did look down side-streets. Really, all I can say is that it was Very Strange.

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