Though I have never read any of the Nero Wolfe stories written by Rex Stout, I have heard about the character that solved crimes without ever leaving his home. NEARLY NERO is a collection of novellas created by Loren D. Estleman, and these imaginatively amusing stories honor the original Nero Wolfe novels. Puns can be found all throughout the book, from titles to details concerning the Brooklyn home and even the characters themselves. Nine of the ten novellas were previously printed in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine while one is new, and in each one, Claudius Lyon along with Arnie Woodbine try to discover the answer to a challenging puzzle. No killings or violent crimes have been carried out, just someone wanting a solution to troubles that have cropped up in their lives. What the perceptive pair deduce left me grinning quite a few times, because what they conclude often has something humorous connected to it.
When Arnie Woodbine answered an ad for a job, the former felon ended up working for Claudius Lyon, an extremely odd individual who has a great love for Nero Wolfe, a man well-known for resolving what actually happened by having somebody else do all the research. Claudius has redone much of his life to match similar aspects in Nero’s, and he now needs someone to help with solving any problems brought to him by having that person do all the physical investigating. So Arnie is now employed and does tasks asked of him in order for Claudius to explain whatever dilemma he has been given. Since neither of them are licensed detectives, no fees are charged, but this fact does not stop the police captain from repeatedly trying to prove they are committing a crime.
After Claudius and Arnie meet and start working together, the two deal with a predicament plaguing someone in every story. A wide variety of people come asking for help, and their problems also greatly vary. But the portly amateur detective and his cunning assistant sort through clues, then make deductions based on fact. While there is not a lot of depth to the novellas because of their length, the information about each case let me make my own guesses as to what was really going on. Arnie is the one who describes what is taking place, and his inner thoughts were often a highlight of a scene. How the final assumptions were reached are frequently shrewd, and I thought the reasoning to be rather comical at times while other logic showed real aptitude. Loren D. Estleman has made me want to check out the original Nero Wolfe stories, as I would like to know about the team who inspired such a fun duo. NEARLY NERO is an entertaining and witty parody.
I voluntarily reviewed the book from the publisher, and all comments are my honest opinion
Publisher: Gallery Books
Releases: May 9, 2017
Author website: http://www.lorenestleman.com/
Rating: 4 Stars