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Please Pass the Guilt (Nero Wolfe, #45)
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Please Pass the Guilt (Nero Wolfe #45)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  864 ratings  ·  45 reviews
A bomb explodes in the desk drawer of a top TV executive. But was the death trap intended for him or for the man who opened the drawer? Each man had a host of enemies, so was it the ambitious business partner, the jealous wife, the office secretary, or the man with blood on his hands? Nero Wolfe finds himself up to his corpulent neck as he and Archie Goodwin sort their way ...more
Hardcover, 150 pages
Published September 24th 1973 by Viking Books (first published 1973)
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Sleeping Murder by Agatha ChristieElephants Can Remember by Agatha ChristieThe Cater Street Hangman by Anne PerryA Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis PetersAn Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James
Best Mysteries from the 1970s
13th out of 67 books — 17 voters
The Princess Bride by William GoldmanBurr by Gore VidalBreakfast of Champions by Kurt VonnegutA Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'EngleThe Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
Best Books of 1973
53rd out of 54 books — 25 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,203)
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Shireen
The rating should be a 4, but I was thinking more about the act of reading than reading the book itself. Let me explain.

I had this conversation, not the first, with several members of my brain health care team who said it's not normal to read a book in one day, that that's unusual. Really?! Before my brain injury, I'd take out three of these kinds of books -- mystery or Star Trek, mass paperback, usually longer than a Rex Stout book -- per week, five if I could get away with it, and read one in
...more
Jon
Possibly the least satisfying Nero Wolfe novel I've read. Archie and Wolfe are stumped through three quarters of the book. Archie even apologizes several times for the fact that the story is getting nowhere. There are some red herrings, such as the possibility of international terrorism, which not only go nowhere, but are apparently forgotten. Then a new fact, never even hinted at before, is discovered, and Wolfe uses some very tenuous logic prompted by that fact to identify the murderer. The ne ...more
Tim
In a recent speech I attended by Walter Mosley, author of, for example, “Devil in a Blue Dress,” “The Man in my Basement,” and “Bad Boy Brawley Brown” (see my review), he cited Rex Stout as one of his “mystery genre” influences. Mr. Stout was a prolific writer of mystery novels and stories. His most famous character is a private detective, Nero Wolfe, a rotund, well-read, opinionated, man with a penchant for orchids and for gourmet cooking (indeed, Mr. Stout published a cookbook with recipes fro ...more
Alexis Neal
Kenneth Meer has blood on his hands. Not that anyone else can see it, mind you. But he's convinced that it's there all the same. Is he just crazy? Or could there be some actual murder afoot? When Doc Vollmer calls in a favor and asks Wolfe to look into the reason for Meer's delusion, the big man finds himself smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation--and murder by bomb, no less. But therein lies another mystery: the bomb was in the drawer of Amory Browning, a television mogul. But it wa ...more
Adam Graham
Reading Please Pass the Guilt right after The Silent Speaker provided quite an interesting contrast. Both cases involve Archie and Wolfe drumming up business, but the times have changed in 25 years.

In the first place, technoligically things are quite different. In, The Silent Speaker, recording cylinders were a cumbersome yet important part of the case that Wolfe and Archie didn't really understand. By the time of Please Pass the Guilt, Wolfe and Archie are recording nearly every conversation to
...more
Matt
I am always excited when I find a Nero Wolfe novel that I haven't read before, an increasingly rare pleasure. I was even more excited when I found out that this one takes place in 1969, and the Miracle Mets are a constant backdrop to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, but I would not recommend it for someone who hasn't already read and enjoyed some of the other novels or short stories.

The Mets references are unusual, Stout has Archie talk about baseball in a few of the other stories (Arc
...more
Derk
I always enjoyed Stout's Nero Wolfe stories when I read them many decades ago. (I probably stopped reading them before this one was published in 1973.) For old times sake I tried this one, his 45th of 72 Wolfe stories. It did not disappoint, but was probably not one of his better efforts if memory serves. The plot line was weak, but the characters and dialogue seemed quite familiar after all these years. i look forward to reading another one.
Ed
#45 in the Nero Wolfe series. This 1973 entry in the series begun in 1934 is the penultimate novel. Anyone following the series through 40 years is accustomed to the eccentricities of Wolfe and the standard cast of characters with which he peoples his novel - Stout has no surprises for the reader but he provides a comfortable, familiar reading experience for fan.

Nero Wolfe series - A bomb explodes in the desk drawer of a top TV executive. But was the death trap intended for him or for the man wh
...more
James Fearn
Not one that is a good reader. Hard to follow and not very interesting for me. Did not show much of the characteristics of Wolfe or Goodwin to the degree of other works. Perhaps I have accustomed myself to the pieces of Goldsborough.
Cyn Mcdonald
Hard to believe there are 47 Nero Wolfe novels. Also hard to believe that I have read most of them, though they're not logged in Goodreads.

This is #45, copyright date 1973. I'd say it's about average.
Jessi
A man is in the grips of "Lady MacBeth" syndrome. He sees blood on his hands and it's sent him to a local psychiatry center. One of the doctors knows another doctor who knows Nero Wolfe and the man is sent to the house. When it turns out he's connected to the death of a man who died when he opened a desk drawer. Only, it wasn't his desk drawer that he opened. Who was the intended victim? No one can be sure and it's causing the police to run around in circles.
Archie takes matters into his own han
...more
Hudson Murrell
So good. A little dated--heck, anything without cellphones is dated now--but the writing style, the content of the mystery, the clues and their unveiling...top notch.
Lynne
This is a thin book, but a slow read....I keep falling asleep! That would be great if I had trouble sleeping. I know someone who loves this series, but this will be the only one I read.....famous last words? I WILL finish this book!

Decided life is to short, so I'm NOT finishing this book. I read the ending and have spent enough time, so I am moving on.

I did end up finishing this book. I was home and sick and wanted something that would put me to sleep. Of course then it didn't work as quickly as
...more
Sun
A man with invisible blood on his hands goes to a psychiatrist - sounds like a good setup for a joke - but ends up seeing Nero Wolfe, fat detective and genius gourmand. A TV producer has been blown up by a bomb in a desk drawer and of course Wolfe wants no part of it. But the bank balance is low, so Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's legman, prods him into action.

This feels like an unusual Nero Wolfe mystery: bombs are atypical weapons in the series, the tone is less cheery than usual, and in place of the
...more
Sarah
Since Nero Wolfe's bank balance is getting perilously low, his cocky legman Archie Goodwin takes it upon himself to insert the indolent detective into the investigation of the murder of a man with a very wealthy widow. Peter Odell got himself blown up while poking around in another man's desk, and office politics were such that either made a perfectly good target for murder. The police are stumped and so, for the longest time, is Wolfe. My enjoyment may have been hampered by the fact that my edi ...more
Jeff
A Family Affair (1975)

This, I believe, is Rex Stout’s last full length Nero Wolfe novel and it definitely has a sadness to it that it somehow manages to tie to post-Watergate disillusionment. There is no real connection between the case and Watergate other than the sense of disillusionment, but that aspect of the book is what seems to linger after the last page. The idea of having one of the series characters be the killer is inspired. As always, Nero’s dialogue and Archie’s voice are a joy to
...more
Bill  Kerwin
This is the penultimate Nero Wolfe novel, published in 1975 when Stout was 87 years old, and it is a solid work of craftsmanship with all the familiar pleasures a Wolfe fan could desire, including a delightful bonus: Lieutenant Rowcliff finally gets what's coming to him. Stout throws in a few contemporary touches--LSD, Arab Terrorism--but the real delight is of course in a familiar type of tale told well, with the same old cast of characters we have come to love.
Belinda
I love the Rex Stout books! He's always able to spin an enticing yarn without cluttering it with so many unrelated suspects that you can't keep track of them. This book is no exception. It's one of his later books and is set in 1969, so he brings him some of the issues of the day, like terrorism, women's liberation, and drugs. I listened to the audiobook and, as usual, adore the narrator of his books.
Nan Silvernail
Two executive rivals. One position opens for one of them. One bomb. But the man who opened the desk drawer didn't own the desk. Was it simple corporate mathematical elimination or will a man Doctor Vollmer sends to Nero Wolfe who claims to have blood on his hands that no one else can see send the case spinning off in another angle?


(Again, Spring Cleaning shortens the review.)
Greg McClay
One of Wolfe's darker encounters. I wonder what the response would have been once the murderer's picture was in the paper. Some weak points in the plot and I don't always agree with Wolfe's leaps of faith but a good read anyways and as I have said on other Wolfe books there are interesting signs of the times to be found which make the experience all the more interesting.
John
This is kind of a weird one. It's such a late book in the series (first published in 1973) that the attempts to make it contemporary feel very strange - I mean, Stout was around 80 years old at this point, but he's still writing an Archie in his 30s, or maybe early 40s, and it just doesn't jibe as well as it did in the earlier books. The mystery itself is a good one, though.
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
Another great, classic Nero Wolfe mystery revisited.
Vicki Cline
Wolfe's doctor wants Archie's help with a man who's come to a doctor friend of his complaining of blood on his hands that won't wash off. Archie finds out this is connected to the bomb which was put in the desk drawer of a TV executive which killed a different executive. Pretty convoluted.
Julia


Not my favorite Nero Wolfe novel, but it's still good. Definitely not an introductory book for new readers of Rex Stout. It relies on familiarity with the characters and situations, so it is a quick read without a lot of background information.
Chazzle
Apr 25, 2008 Chazzle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery fans
Recommended to Chazzle by: Nancy Pearl ("Book Lust")
Three to four stars; I guess I'll give this one the benefit of the doubt. The mystery and denouement itself are pretty much standard, but the interplay between Nero, Archie, and the gang can be really rich and delicious.
Lisa Kucharski
Interesting beginning, and of course Archie gets right on it and drums up some business. The team bangs their heads against dead ends until one tongue gives something away. Then, the pieces come together.
Hobart
a lot of fun, good solid plot from a master still at his prime. Loved the fact that a certain recurring character got his comeuppance. Another one I don't understand why I don't read more often.
Barbara
I have always liked Rex Stout books but I enjoy them even more since A&E's Nero Wolfe series. Timothy Hutton IS Archie for me now and that increases my pleasure exponentially.

3.5
Ferret
Wolfe felt less involved and less interesting in this novel. Archie drove the plot, but Wolfe didn't object as much as I expected he would. Decent entertainment but nothing to recommend.
Mary
You can definitely tell this is a later mystery in the series; there is a play on the word 'prick' which leads into some pretty suggestive territory for a Nero Wolfe novel!
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Rex Todhunter Stout (December 1, 1886 – October 27, 1975) was an American crime writer, best known as the creator of the larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe, described by reviewer Will Cuppy as "that Falstaff of detectives." Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin recorded the cases of the detective genius from 1934 (Fer-de-Lance) to 1975 (A Family Affair).

The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated
...more
More about Rex Stout...
Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1) Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6) Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5) The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2) Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe, #9)

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“I try to know what I need to know. I make sure to know what I want to know.
(Nero Wolfe)”
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