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The Second Confession by Rex Stout
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Jun 01, 11

bookshelves: fiction-crime-detection
Read in June, 2011

Stout, Rex. THE SECOND CONFESSION. (1949). ****.
You have to realize that this novel featuring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin was written in 1949, at the height of the Communist scare and the onset of Russian Cold War tactics. The millionaire owner of a mining consortium meets with Wolfe in his office and has a job for him. He wants Wolfe to prove that a young man who is currently seeing his daughter is a Communist. That proven, he can then expect his daughter to break off the relationship that he fears would be the wrong one for her. Wolfe agrees, but makes sure that the terms are not as limiting as his client might want. Later, he sends Archie off to the home of the industrialist, posing as a newspaper photographer. There is a big reception going on and Archie manages to get photos of all the family and the guests, including the young man under suspicion. It is only later on the evening of the next day that our suspected Communist is found dead on the grounds by the side of the road leading up to the mansion. He had been run over by a car. The whole complexion of the case changes. Wolfe and his assistant now have to prove the initial accusation and, in addition, have to solve the murder case. In this tale, Wolfe again leaves his office to travel up to Westchester to visit with the magnate’s family – a trip away from his nest that is not usually taken. He also gets involved with his famous Mr. “X”, who does not want Wolfe to continue with the investigation. There are lots of gaps and gaffes in this novel, but it shows the attitude of the American public about the dangers of Communism – translated into a good mystery yarn. Recommended.
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