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Death Times Three

Death Times Three - Rex Stout I would not call this anthology shameless cash grab after Rex Stout's death; cash grab - yes, shameless - no. I will try to explain below.

The anthology consists of three novellas:

Bitter end.
Wolfe's personal cook extraordinaire Fritz was sick, so the detective had to cook for himself with really disastrous results. By the way, from the rest of the series I had an impression that Wolfe himself was a decent cook, but not here. The poor guy fell really low and had to use canned food only to realize it contained rat poison - in harmless quantities fortunately.

Wolfe was about to send Archie Goodwin to the food manufacturer to get to the bottom of what he considers a personal insult, but at exactly this moment a woman came whose problems were strangely connected to Wolfe's quest. It did not take too much time afterwards for Archie to find a dead body.

This is the only never-before-seen Nero Wolfe tale, but it also happened to be a reworking of a story from Stout's lesser-known series Tecumseh Fox published before this anthology.

Frame-up for murder.
The picture above shows exactly what I imagine first when the subject of high fashion comes up. Back to the story: a sister of high fashion designer came to Nero Wolfe asking him to help rid her brother off a woman who seems to have way too much influence over him suspecting blackmail is involved. No sooner Wolfe agrees to act - in his case it always means he sends Archie to act - a dead body drops by to say hi. Wolfe gets very suspicious about the circumstances.

One of the times when Wolfe could not leave seemingly obvious case along because he feels somebody was trying to make a fool of him. His self-esteem cannot allow it, so Archie gets to go and stir the hornet's nest.

This story is almost the same as novella Murder is No Joke from anthology [b:And Four to Go|77593|And Four to Go (Nero Wolfe #30)|Rex Stout|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389051336s/77593.jpg|3331857]. The only differences are the age of one of the characters and the initial build-up which I actually like more than the original story. For this reason I shamelessly plagiarized myself in this part of the review.

Assault on a brownstone.
Old Lady
An old unattractive lady came to Wolfe for consultation. Usually this is not the type of people who need his services considering the fees for said services, but Archie Goodwin decided to teach his boss a lesson and let her in.

Before both detectives knew it they had a dead body, a bunch of counterfeit money, pissed off police, and equally pissed off Secret Service (Department of Treasury) on their hands.

This beginning and all characters in the story came directly from novella Counterfeit for Murder from anthology [b:Homicide Trinity|77607|Homicide Trinity (Nero Wolfe, #36)|Rex Stout|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389051337s/77607.jpg|1202492]. For this reason I shamelessly plagiarized myself once again. The victim and most of the investigation is different here. This time a very colorful character of the original tale is replaced by fairly generic attractive young woman which gave Archie more screen time leaving less time for Wolfe to investigate. The absence of the character I mentioned is really a big letdown.

As you can see the only original story is the first one and you have to stretch the definition of "original" to call the story that. Please do not get me wrong and it is very nice to receive Nero Wolfe stories - written by Rex Stout himself - long time after his death. Unfortunately both detectives feel a little off.

As a big fan of the series I really cannot and will not rate any Nero Wolfe story anything less than 3 stars, so this is the rating. Please do not start reading the series with this collection and if you still have to, do not judge the rest of the books by this offering.