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If Death Ever Slept
Rex Stout
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If Death Ever Slept (Nero Wolfe #29)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,411 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
The legendary Nero Wolfe is hired by a despicable millionaire named Otis Jarrell who is trying to prove that his daughter-in-law is an information-leaking, double-crossing snake. In spite of Wolfe's reluctance, his assistant Archie brashly agrees to perform as Jarrell's personal secretary — under an assumed identity; to gather information about the possible misdeeds of sai
Hardcover, Large Print, 277 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by G. K. Hall & Company (first published October 25th 1957)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mar 11, 2015 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A millionaire came to Nero Wolfe asking him to get a proof his daughter-in-law is - to use his own expression - a snake. He suspects her of selling his business secrets to outsiders, among other things. Usually even Archie Goodwin who is always eager to get a client does not touch such cases with a ten foot pole, but this time he just had fallout with Nero Wolfe and they were not on speaking terms.

So Nero Wolfe knowing Archie would have to impersonate the millionaire's secretary agrees hoping A
Mary Holm
Sep 02, 2013 Mary Holm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, when I was younger, I used to like to read the same books over and over, but these days I try not to do that. There are too many wonderful books waiting for me, taunting me, in my "to be read" pile. However, when it comes to Rex Stout, I make an exception. Visiting with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin is such a pleasure, I can't help going back to them again and again. I have already read every one of the 33 Nero Wolfe books and 39 short stories at least once. Except for the last one. It sits ...more
Alexis Neal
Jul 17, 2016 Alexis Neal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
A clash of wills between Wolfe and Archie (compounded by mutual fits of stubbornness) results in Archie masquerading as a secretary in the home of millionaire Otis Jarrell-- a situation that neither Wolfe nor Archie relishes overmuch. Officially, Jarrell hired them to prove that his daughter-in-law stole (and sold) business secrets. But when Jarrell's gun turns up missing and his previous secretary winds up with a hole in the back of his head, the case rapidly escalates into a full-fledged murde ...more
Bill  Kerwin

Wheeler-dealer Otis Jarrell thinks his daughter-in-law Susan is a "snake," and Archie Goodwin poses as his private secretary to amass the evidence. Someone ends up dead of course, and then the fun begins.
Apr 23, 2016 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To celebrate the end of a long period of overtime at work, I decided my brain needed something entertaining. No politics, no serial killers, no world in peril. Nero Wolfe and Archie were perfect: solid mystery with plenty of wry humor. When I finished the book this morning, I was refreshed and sated as if I had just spent a pleasant evening dining with old friends.

I read this book years ago but I didn't try to remember or try to divine the killer. I merely enjoyed the characters, the situations
Jul 18, 2015 Alger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A typical Wolfe novel, meaning the events of the story just follow upon one another without much impact on the actions or demeanor of the characters. This one largely stands out because it gives Archie more of a star turn than usual, and even promises at the start of the case to grant him almost full autonomy in a case. The cranky investor seeking evidence that his daughter in law is "a snake" is filled out only enough to set the plot in motion. Then, once everything is rolling along in the wake ...more
Christopher Rush
Another "Archie has to move to a client's home to do inside investigation story," this has a bit more to it than some of the others in that Wolfe sub-genre, though at times it does suffer from that sub-genre's middle-slowdown pacing. The "extra" this one has is mostly at the beginning, with the very humorous clash between Archie and Wolfe about Archie even taking the case or not, eventually leading into Wolfe getting dragged further and further into a case he never wanted in the first place. Ano ...more
Alison C
A 1957 entry in the long-running Nero Wolfe series, Rex Stout's If Death Ever Slept features more Archie Goodwin and less Nero Wolfe than usual. A wealthy businessman comes to Wolfe to ask him to find proof that his daughter-in-law is a "snake" who is giving bits of business information to his rivals, who then can take advantage of the information and undermine his business. Wolfe sends Archie to the wealthy man's home, a large apartment on two floors, where Archie poses as the man's new secreta ...more
Droll as usual but with little insight into the evil mastermind. Especially since she has a tame name called Susan and is derided constantly as the 'snake' by a father in law who is alleged to have made passes at her. Close to dirty but not dirty enough.

Struck by how murders make up the universe of Nero Wolfe and how they should be common to all the novels at least. Murder must be the essential element of theatricality for Stout as bungling involving women is for Wodehouse. What endless variatio
Jacqueline O.
I read all, or almost all the Nero Wolfe mysteries when I was in junior high, having finished reading Nancy Drew. I found this title in a box of old paperbacks, and decided to re-visit the old brownstone on West 35th Street. Somehow, the edition I happen to have is a British printing - which was strange to read to say the least. In amongst all of Archie's slang some of the terms had British spelling. It was weird. But that's only for the edition I found, an American edition shouldn't have that p ...more
Feb 03, 2015 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
"If Death Ever Slept" is a mystery set in 1957 in New York City. Archie Goodwin always has a humorous view of events which makes the mystery fun to read. This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. I guessed some aspects correctly, but whodunit did end up surprising me. Bad assumption on my part. There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this to fans of humorous historical mysteries.
Nancy Butts
May 17, 2016 Nancy Butts rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Book #29 in the Nero Wolfe series, and I think the title is the best thing about it. I always love reading about Wolfe and Archie and the ménage at West 35th Street, and this book is no exception. But I felt that the payoff didn’t match the buildup; in other words, I was dissatisfied with the way Wolfe solved the murder mystery. The murderer’s motive seemed a bit weak.
Jul 04, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Death Ever Slept (1957)

This Rex Stout novel begins with a spat between Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. A rich man shows up and asks to hire Archie to move in as his secretary to help catch his daughter-in-law who is “a snake.” Nero considers the offer to piss off Archie and Archie takes the offer to piss off Nero. Archie does and soon is involved in two or three murders, I forget which. There is a ritual denouement scene in most of these novels where Detective Cramer (with his annoying sideki
David Miller
Sep 07, 2014 David Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes Nero Wolfe into the 2nd half of the 1950's. As always the plot is fine and the characters are interesting. Stout's take on the 1950's film noir trope of the bad killer woman is as intelligent as you'd expect.
Oct 13, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, mystery
Perfect read for our drive to Southern California and home again. It kept us awake and guessing. We love Michael Prichard as a reader. He has the perfect voice for Archie. Wonderful play with language! Great laughs.
A large cast of unlikeable characters! Archie and Wolfe are having a spitting match, and Archie goes to work outside the brownstone. The office gets a very full house, and even Dol Bonner joins in.
Feb 07, 2015 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe and the characters who appear again and again in his stories make you want to read more and more of his work.
Mark Harding
Quite strange. The hero detective never leaves the house, for starters. But there’s something children’s novelish about the food, Daddy Nero’s routines, the same characters living in the big boarding school of Nero’s house. In the 50’s was it normal to have these extended families living together? (such as Jarell’s). Maybe it was.

I have no idea why Susan wasn’t ‘a snake’ in the opinion of Nero and Archie. There must be some subtle terminology I’m missing.

I read the book through quickly enough bu
Mar 04, 2013 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, series, 2013
Nero Wolfe's latest client is a big millionaire investor, what we'd call a venture capitalist today. He's convinced his daughter-in-law is stealing inside info and sharing it with his rivals. He calls her a snake, and he wants Wolfe and Archie Goodwin to get rid of her. Archie moves into the millionaire's penthouse disguised as the new secretary to get the dirt on her. But he hasn't turned up anything when the former secretary turns up murdered. Wolfe needs to find out what happened, and soon.

Aug 19, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neither Archie nor Wolfe much care for the boorish millionaire who hires Wolfe to find a leak in his office. In fact, only his irritation at Archie causes Wolfe to take the case, which requires Archie to act as the millionaire's new secretary. Unfortunately, there's a murder that seems to point right back to the posh penthouse apartment. Wolfe knows he must give the police some of the information he's gathered, but he really doesn't want to. When he does, he's out a client (and a retainer), but ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Livia P
I liked the idea of 1950s NYC's answer to Sherlock Holmes, but I didn't really like this novel. Maybe I picked the wrong one to start with. But I didn't care about the characters, and the mystery seemed pretty pointless and was solved in a boring, unconvincing way.

However...check out some of the foods they ate during this book:

- shad roe with créole sauce
- bread triangles fried in anchovy butter
- "hedgehog omelet"
- avocado, whipped with sugar and lime juice and green chartreuse
- fresh strawber
Steven Freeman
Feb 02, 2016 Steven Freeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
It is always a pleasure to spend time with Wolfe and Archie.
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
A good mystery, but to paraphrase Nero Wolfe, the clients really are a repulsive lot.
Jan 29, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audiobook
it entertains me when archie goes undercover as the client's employee, especially when archie gets to interact with the ladies.
Apr 01, 2016 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My Rating System:
* couldn't finish, ** wouldn't recommend, *** would recommend, **** would read again, ***** have read again.
finished 2016-01-08
Feb 27, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mystery in this one is just so-so, but Archie was a star and kept me totally entertained. I think I am in love with Archie! And, I definitely want him to take me dancing.

Fritz's menus were a bit on the wild side in this one - avacado whipped with sugar and lime juice and green chartreuse (whatever that is), shad roe with creaole' sauce, fresh strawberry omelet, hedgehog omelets (I hope that is just a nickname for something else), bread fried in anchovy butter. He is certainly original, as al
Sep 29, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this one! Really Loved this one! Great mystery-obnoxious suspects-just a lot of fun. Nero sounded very Falstaffian in this one.
Aug 07, 2012 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
#29 in the Nero Wolfe series.

Nero Wolfe series - Millionaire Otis Jarrell can't even trust his family, it seems. He hires a reluctant Nero Wolfe to find out if his daughter-in-law is double-crossing him. Wolfe and Archie encounter a rogue's gallery of Jarrells and associates and discover one, then two, men killed by the old man's gun. But even Wolfe's distaste for everyone involved doesn't prevent him from assembling the guests and masterfully declaring - to everyone's surprise - "whodunit."
Nev Thomas
Oct 08, 2014 Nev Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usual Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe fare.A good whodunnit
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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 about Rex Stout...

Other Books in the Series

Nero Wolfe (1 - 10 of 47 books)
  • Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1)
  • The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2)
  • The Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe, #3)
  • The Red Box (Nero Wolfe, #4)
  • Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5)
  • Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6)
  • Over My Dead Body (Nero Wolfe, #7)
  • Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe, #8)
  • Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe, #9)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (Nero Wolfe, #10)

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“All there was to it, he was in a panic. He was scared stiff that any minute a fact might come bouncing in that would force him to send me down to Cramer bearing gifts, and there was practically nothing on earth he wouldn't rather do, even eating ice cream with cantaloupe or horseradish on oysters.” 3 likes
“He wrote short and he wrote often, which tended to obscure the fact that he wrote well. Unless it leads to obscurity, brevity is rarely praised (or employed) in the journals of, ah, serious literary criticism, and frequency is often equated with frivolity.” 0 likes
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