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Might As Well Be Dead: A Nero Wolfe Mystery

(Nero Wolfe #27)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,113 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Eleven years ago, wealthy Nebraska businessman James Herrold unjustly threw his only son, Paul, out of the family business. Now he wants Nero Wolfe to find Paul so he can make amends. But what if the young man doesn't want to be found? And what if he's the same Paul Herrold on trial for murder? This case draws the great detective and his devoted sidekick into a web of dece ...more
Audio CD, 420 pages
Published October 25th 2004 by AudioGO (first published October 26th 1956)
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Marybeth You don't *have to* read the others, but there are characters you might not be familiar with if you don't read at least a few. Lilly Rowan was introdu…moreYou don't *have to* read the others, but there are characters you might not be familiar with if you don't read at least a few. Lilly Rowan was introduced in a much earlier book and is only mentioned here, but she's a recurring character. Saul, Orrie, and Fred are also recurring characters who have been in the stories from the beginning, but Johnny Keems is a recent addition. The stories are set in the time period during which they were written and the characters never age, so they're not connected in the same way as most series books, but every so often a previous case is mentioned that helps to inform the current one. Reading The Doorbell Rang and The Golden Spiders might give you enough background to be going on with, but I love Archie's narration so much I've just been reading the entire series in chronological order. I highly recommend it.(less)
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Bill Kerwin
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

James Herold hires Wolfe to find his son Paul, who broke off all contact with the family eleven years ago after his father unjustly accused him of theft. Archie finds him after his only a couple of days--at the very moment a jury convicts him of murder.

Another good entry in the series.
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to start my review with a question which should be very easy for any serious fan of mysteries. What would happen if you cross this:
with this:
and with this:
Sherlock Holmes
The almost but not quite right answer would be a lazy hippo with good crime-solving skills. The right answer would be Nero Wolfe of cause.

This time a wealthy businessman (only very wealthy people can afford the fees Wolfe charges for his services) from Omaha asked the detective to find his son who disappeared 11 years ago afte
Charles  van Buren
Charles van Buren


5.0 out of 5 stars

What do you do when there are no clues?

March 31, 2019

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

Publication date: April 24, 2010
Publisher: Bantam
Language: English

I have read most of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books but had not previously read this one. I'm glad I hadn't because it was a wonderful treat to be able to read a new to me Nero Wolfe novel after so many years. The treat was made even better by the fact that this one is better
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The edition I read has an introduction by John Katzenbach. I read the first screen load or two, before he started talking about this specific book. Wolfe probes personalities until he uncovers the nasty vein that pulses beneath the surface, regardless of how well hidden it might be. In actuality, almost all the real “action” of a Nero Wolfe novel is cerebral. This is because in most cases, Archie and the other operatives go out and do things, but we learn about them when they come back to the of ...more
Bryan Brown
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
This might be my least favorite one of all. There were still good bits, i read several sections out loud to my wife they sounded so good. But overall this story is just OK for me.

I've always known that Stout played fast and loose with the details of his creation. He would change the street address, or make up a weapon that doesn't exist, like the Marley .38 Archie carries. But this time these details were jarring to me. Most of the time that doesn't bother me but there were two in this book tha
Jack Heath
4 Stars. An old-fashioned "who-done-it." I was wondering about all the leading characters, including "PH" in jail, to almost the very end. Set in the mid 1950s. Eleven years earlier, PH as a young man was falsely accused by his father of stealing from the family hardware company in Nebraska and he fled to New York. He was later cleared and the father has hired Nero Wolfe to find him. Wolfe and Archie Goodwin soon realize he is siting in jail waiting to be sentenced for murder under a different n ...more
Pamela Shropshire
The background for this story is far from present New York City, beginning eleven years previously in Nebraska. A young man named Paul Herold graduated college that year and began working in his father’s business. When $26K is embezzled, the evidence points at Paul, and since Paul has been a bit wild in college, his father was predisposed against him. The elder Mr. Herold kicked the younger one out of his business and his life and never saw or heard from him again. Until now, when our story begi ...more
Alexis Neal
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audio
James R. Harold is looking for his long-lost son. The Missing Persons Bureau thinks it's a hopeless case, but that doesn't stop them from referring Harold to Wolfe (mostly so they can watch Wolfe stub his toe on it). And it certainly seems like a fairly impossible task. Paul Harold is a veritable needle in the haystack that is New York City. But as it turns out, finding him is easy. Overturning his recent conviction for first-degree murder, on the other hand--that will be a challenge. But Wolfe ...more
This books starts with a request to find a missing son who had been falsely accused by his father of stealing from his company. The investigation leads to a murder trial where the defendant has just been convicted. It seems for a while that Nero Wolfe would not be able to solve the intricacies of the case, but never underestimate the cunning and genius of Wolfe.

In this book, Archie seems to be highly critical of marriage and he gives his scathing critique of every marriage he sees. When a young
Stephen Osborne
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"When a hippopotamus is peeved, it's a lot of peeve." Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the Nero Wolfe tales, has a lovely turn of phrase. His employer does as well, although in a totally different way. When a lawyer suggests there should be a written agreement, Wolfe says,"There won't be. I take the risk of failure; you'll have to take the risk of my depravity." Wolfe often sends me to the dictionary, which isn't a bad thing. I've learned meanings to words I never would have known had that orchid ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Another goodie from the master of detective fiction, Rex Stout. In this book, Wolfe and Archie take on a missing persons case which has a bit of a twist which I won't reveal here. Additionally, a continuing character who only appeared periodically is murdered. Being a Nero Wolfe fanatic, I am extremely biased but if you haven't read this series you are missing something and the interaction between Wolfe and Archie is priceless.
Tim Healy
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To some degree, you can't improve on the classics. These stories just work. This one, in particular, with very little updating could be set in 2019, not 1952. Wolfe and Archie really stumble into the murders in this story...they start out looking for a missing person. There's a pretty big conicidence you have to swallow at the beginning of the story, but otherwise, Stout, as usual, plays pretty fair. The details, though, are well thought out, and you feel like Wolfe is bringing his "A game" ever ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1950s, detective, audio
It's been a long time since I read a Nero Wolfe, and perhaps absence made the heart grow fonder, or perhaps this is just one of the better ones. It follows the formula to the letter, but has some its spring in its step and delivers what it offers, a diverting piece of pulp detective fiction.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A father sets Wolfe to look for his missing son. They find him falsely convicted of murdering his lover's wife. The real murderer kills off several more people in his fight to cover everything up.
Steven Meyers
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Stout’s long-running riff on Sherlock Holmes is brilliant fun. In some seventy books and novellas written from 1934 to Stout’s death in 1975, Nero Wolfe is the brainy detective, Archie Goodwin his sidekick and housemate who writes up the stories. They are wonderfully readable entertainments, written in impeccably clean and propulsive prose. The usual setting is the great world city that was New York during Wolfe’s career, where Wolfe lives in an old brownstone from which he seldom stirs. He live

Michael Brown
Wolfe undertakes a missing person case. Not that he needs the work but he does not like the client so takes it on for the challenge and the cash. Almost at once the missing person is linked to a murder trial in progress. And we now have a bigger challenge. All info in the papers convinces Wolfe that the man found guilty was framed and he is the missing person. After a string of deaths the police are finally convinced they got it wrong and with the usual confrontation of suspects and interested p ...more
Lisa Kucharski
Wolfe takes on a missing person who is found, and has also been convicted of murder. Taking the task to uncover a wrongful conviction as well as reuniting son to family.

In this book one of the team becomes a victim. It's written on the book cover's description. However, as one who is trying to read the books in order, and having had to read the series missing two of them due to waiting for them to get to the library... I discovered in this one the mention of another demise. So, if you have not r
7/21/20 - upping to 3 stars, enjoyed the ebook; had forgotten whodunit. These are good to clear the mind after all the upheaval in our lives. Good triumphs, yada.

One negative - there's nothing mentioned about Johnny Keems' wife until the very end - she got $16K. Nothing about contacting her, helping her to deal. Regardless if wrapped up in a week, should have been some mention.

2013 - I'm not sure why this didn't please me as much as the other and far earlier Nero Wolfe audiobooks I've been lis
I'm not as a rule sensitive to feminist issues, but this is the limit. Not one of the characters, and neither, probably, the author, ever supposed that P.H. might be understood not as a Paul Harold, but as a Patricia Halliday or someone like that. Why didn't one call and ask if the advertisement was aimed at her?

That said, I liked everything else about the book.
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Great little whodunit. I was introduced to Nero Wolfe through the excellent TV show "A Nero Wolfe Mystery" and have found the original books as enjoyable as the show. Full of fascinating characters, dry wit and deadpan humour, this detective story from the 1950s neatly straddles the line between noirish hard-boiled detective fiction and cozy mystery.
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-reread
Another good Wolfe--I never remember this one, but I like the widow and the plot, even if the solution is rushed. And I'll forget them all again in another five years. And it doesn't matter, since I'll read it again and enjoy it.
Mary  Lewys
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, Archie Goodwin provides the best narrative to a twisty-bendy mystery that had me on the edge of my seat! Loved it all the way through.
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
One of the truly good Archie Goodwin/Nero Wolfe mysteries. It was a pleasure to revisit it.
Michael Bafford
I read several Nero Wolfe books when I was a lot younger. My mom read mostly mysteries and even picked up a Rex Stout when she had nothing better, and I picked up from her. So it was with a warm feeling of nostalgia that I got this one from the local library. And I must admit it is effortless reading. I was reading another book - My Sister the Serial Killer - at the same time and it was refreshing to get back to Nero & Co. which demanded nothing of me and led toward the inescapable end.

And it al
Lukasz Pruski
"'I've never seen him like that, with any life in him. The first time I saw him he said he might as well be dead. He had nothing but despair, and he never has had.'"

Might as Well Be Dead is the 27th novel in Rex Stout's monumental series featuring Nero Wolfe, the obese genius of detection, and his intrepid and suave helper, right hand, and amanuensis, Archie Goodwin. A Mr. Herold, a well-to-do businessman from Nebraska wants to hire Wolfe to find his son Paul. Paul was once accused of stealing m
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I am on a Nero Wolfe summer re-reading binge and am approaching most of Rex Stout's "Wolfe and Archie" books for the fourth or fifth time. Strange as it might be for mystery novels--they don't pale on a second, third or fourth approach and, in some ways, I enjoy them even more each time I read them.

This is definitely one of the darkest Nero Wolfe stories---there is not just one murder, but one after another and Wolfe is definitely taking it to heart that his probing is the catalyst for some of t
Virginia Tican
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
P.H. maybe the initials meant on Wolfe's notice though it gave the person's full name on the Personals asking that person to get in touch with him as he is innocent... P.H. is also the initials of a just convicted murderer in an on going trial. That had the newsmen and the police at an uproar due to Wolfe's involvement or so they thought... Was Wolfe's Paul Herold the same as the convicted felon Peter Hays? This is a new one for Wolfe, usually he does his mojo before the criminal has been senten ...more
Tom Donaghey
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Might As Well Be Dead (1956) (Nero Wolfe #27) by Rex Stout. Wolfe is hired by a man out of the midwest to find his estranged son. Seems there had been a mistake a dozen years before, now revealed as a robbery by someone else, and the father wishes to make amends. Wolfe takes the missing persons case after the police’s failure to locate the young man. Within a few days Wolfe finds him, only it seems he is on trial for murder.
As he can’t quite tell the repentant father this news, Wolfe makes the
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one might be a record, even for me. Started at lunch one day, finished at midnight 24 hours+ later. It's a short book but I was only reading during meals until supper yesterday, and then I just stayed up until I was finished.

So, the plots are formulaic, as I saw someone mention in a review, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Changing a few elements in a chemical formula can create a completely different substance, and that's exactly what Rex Stout does with these stories. The details
Wolfe has been hired to find a prodigal son. Well, it turns out the son was actually not as prodigal as originally thought; his father has discovered that he was unjustly accused of stealing $26,000 and now, eleven years later, wants Nero to find his son. The son's initials are PH. A man with those initials has just been convicted of murder. He's about the same age and Wolfe thinks it might be the same man. But the man denies that he is Peter Hays. He says something along the lines that he's bee ...more
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See similar books…
Rex Todhunter Stout (1886 – 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 Best Mystery Series of t

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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