"Are you familiar with the work of Rex Stout?"
This potentially great new series of short stories by P.I. master Estleman, creator of Amos Walker, Valentino et al, is both hommage and gentle parody of Rex Stout's beloved Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
ARNIE WOODBINE, an ex-con who boasts that he's a "good confidence man in the second class and a first class forger." He answers a want ad in The Habitual Handicapper seeking a
Fresh out of the hoosgow, he decides to go for it, and encounters the very rotund but dapper CLAUDIUS WOODBINE, whom Arnie tags as the "best-tailored beach ball" he'd ever met. Claudius is impressed with Arnie's candor and feels that Arnie has the sort of skills that would be just perfect for his agency.
Whast sort of agency, Arnie asks.
"Why, a detective agency, of course."
It turns out Claudius is more than a little obsessed with Wolfe, and has plans to set up a copy-cat agency modelled exactly like that of his idol, billing himself as "the world's greatest amateur detective," figures he'll be safe from legal action from Wolfe as long as he doesn't (officially) charge for his work.
"The phrase 'the world's greatest detective' would violate the truth-in-advertising laws," he explains to Arnie.After all, ". Nero Wolfe is still practising and demonstrably the best in his profession."
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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