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And Be a Villain (Nero Wolfe #13)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,272 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
Radio talk show host Madeline Fraser's worst nightmare comes true when one of her on-air guests collapses at the mike after drinking a glass of the sponsor's beverage.
Published June 1st 1948 by Viking
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Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe needs money yet again. I know I sound like a broken record, but this is how the majority of the series' books start. He sends Archie Goodwin to see a popular radio talk show host Madeline Fraser (think Oprah Winfrey before the era of TV) to accept his services in investigating a sensational murder which happened recently right in the middle of the show: a guest drank some soft drink from the show sponsors and fell dead. The murder seems to be completely random as there was no way to i ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Jun 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A man is poisoned during a live radio soft drink commercial, and Wolfe dispatches Goodwin to persuade the popular talk show host to hire Wolfe to solve this notorious crime, thus ending the bad publicity. (For once, he is eager for work: he has a large income tax bill to pay.)

This 1948 Rex Stout classic features Wolfe's first encounter with master criminal Arnold Zeck, Wolfe's Moriarity. If you have not read any of Nero Wolfe's adventures, this, followed by the other two books featuring Zeck--Th
Diamond Cowboy
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rex Stout did it again. This is a detective novel featuring one of the best detectives Nero Wolfe who is an arm chair detective who never leaves his home to solve a case. All of the foot work is done by his brash, wise guy side kick Archy Goodwin. I recommend all of Rex Stout's books very highly.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
"Usually when you hire a man to do something he thinks you're the boss. When you hire Wolfe he thinks he's the boss."

I cannot remember when I first read a Nero Wolfe book. I remember browsing in a local bookstore and I would have been in high school. The bookstore is long gone and I am getting close to retirement age so it has been a few decades. Despite the passage of time I still enjoy picking up one of Rex Stout's books and being transported back. To enter Wolfe's brownstone on West 35th Stre
First, let me just say that when I was 16 and read this I never even registered that Archie Goodwin is ageist. At 29, his comments about no women over 30 being worth a look gave me a strong desire to give him a good "talking to." Anyway, on to the book. Honestly, And Be a Villian: A Nero Wolfe Novel disappointed me. I will re-read at least one more of Rex Stout's books, but I have a terrible suspicion that the Nero Wolfe series will go on the list of things that didn't hold up for me over time. ...more
This book was the perfect antidote to readers malaise. After finishing a Nobel Prize winner's dense (and seemingly endless) novel, I knew I needed to return to an old friend and that was a Nero Wolfe mystery.

I have probably read this book five times, but I never tire of Nero Wolfe's grumpiness, Archie's cheekiness, and Fritz's cuisine (I am now absolutely longing for corn fritters!).

Stout's Arnold Zeck novels are among my favorites of the many Nero Wolfe mysteries; he is akin to Sherlock Holmes
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
AND BE A VILLAIN. (1948). Rex Stout. ****.
This is a Nero Wolfe Adventure, and, in my opinion, one of the best. A guest on a radio show collapses on the microphone table after drinking from a bottle of one of the sponsor’s products. He is soon pronounced dead of cyanide poisoning. Since a total of eight bottles of the product had been consumed by members of the radio crew, the activity involved was directed at how the guest was the one who drank the poisoned one. Was he the actual target? Who els
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, read-audio
Great story!
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Tralala, joy is in the air! I actually came across a Nero Wolfe mystery I have neither read before, nor seen filmed, and a cracking good read it is. Having been disappointed in the last case or two that I have revisited lately in audiobook format, it was an enormous relief to discover I have not outgrown the pantagruelian private eye. In 1948, when this first came out, the power of radio was enormous. Imagine then that a talk-show guest dies on the air while sipping the sponsor's bevvy! Live--so ...more
Alexis Neal
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
Wolfe needs money. After all, those orchids don't pay for themselves. So, in a virtually unprecedented move, he actually solicits a job. Well-known radio host Madeline Fraser is in a pickle. During each broadcast of her hugely successful radio show, she and her various guests indulge in a bottle of Hi-Spot (a show sponsor). It's a big hit with the sponsor and the public. Until, that is, radio guest Cyril Orchard winds up drinking a big ol' glass of cyanide . . . on the air. The police are at a l ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, reread
This is one of the earliest Wolfe books that truly feels like a Wolfe book, and that definitely factors in to my rating. Honestly, this isn't a perfect book. Like most of the early corpus, the sexism pretty much shrieks off the page here, and neither Archie nor Wolfe comes out looking like an untarnished hero (but then, that is not the point of either character, and especially not of Wolfe).

But. But. There's some solid Wolfe-Archie interplay, Cramer plays a fairly substantial role, and we get t
Colin Smith
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this adventure with Nero Wolfe, the quintessential armchair detective, and his assistant/secretary/accountant/dogsbody Archie Goodwin. Wolfe picks up a case of cyanide poisoning that has the police baffled. The intended victim seems to have been a tipster who was a guest on a popular radio show discussing his racing tips. But everyone at the radio station seem to get along, so no-one is pointing fingers. But as Nero Wolfe questions the parties, and, with Archie's help, digs deeper, all ...more
I adore the Nero Wolfe mysteries--and they are terrific audiobooks. Wolfe's and his sidekick Archie Goodwin's obsession with good food and fine flowers actually runs second to their obsession with integrity, logic, and clear-eyed thinking. These are the qualities that make the books such comforts: Wolfe is a person fully in control of his environment -- an increasingly appealing fantasy for me -- but he is also someone who can extract the truth from witnesses simply by the force of his reputatio ...more
One of the finest Nero Wolfe cases, considered as a mystery. The motive and method for murder are very believable, and yet the distractions grow out of that motive and method so naturally it couldn't have been any other way. Archie performs splendidly in his sphere, Wolfe in his, as they always do. Also, the only arch-criminal in the canon is introduced in this book. Not one to miss if you like reading Archie-Wolfe stories.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
A guest on a radio talk show collapses (cyanide) when he drinks the sponsor's juice drink. Nero Wolfe, short of cash as per usual, sends Archie Goodwin to the studio hoping he will be hired to solve the crime. He is, of course, and as always he uses the police to best advantage (to do his leg work) but solves the crime on his own. In The final scene, I'm not giving anything away here, the killer self-incriminates through Wolfe's adroit questioning.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A guest is poisoned during a popular daytime radio show. The police seem to have no leads, and Wolfe needs a hefty fee to offset his income tax payments. There are only a few people who could have poisoned the soft drink bottle. Then Wolfe discovers that the bottle was probably not meant for the victim at all. Archie chafes at Wolfe's inactivity in this one, but Wolfe comes through to find the murderer.
Kristi | Hidden Staircase |
I don't know why it's taken me so long to pick up a Nero Wolfe mystery. This book was a fun read. Set (and written) in the 1940's, Nero Wolfe is the brains and Archie Goodwin is his braun. Wolfe rarely leaves his apartment, leaving Archie to gather people and clues in the case for him. They make a great team and a great read.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not as charming as the other Nero Wolfe books that I have read. It was okay. The murderer was not foreseeable, but it lacked any personality of character or time period. Rex Stout writes his books as taking place at the current times, in this case in the late 1940s. As another reviewer mentions, Archie, Wolfe's right arm associate, is a chauvinist, ageist and womanizer, but that was perfectly acceptable and even expected behavior for a man of the times. I'll continue to read Nero Wolfe books but ...more
Tim Healy
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading these Nero Wolfe mysteries here and there, buying them as I get a good deal on them, and they've been pretty enjoyable. This one is easily the best of the ones I've read. Why is that? Focus, I think. This stays very closely with one story, and has very few distractions. There are also few lapses in the action to take you away from the plot. It's interesting, and also surprised me. It's also not at all dated. It could have happened today very much the way it did in the book. In ...more
Terri Weitze
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe mysteries are always a good read. The detective who (almost) never leaves his home and his intrepid assistant Archie once again work to solve a murder that turns into another murder. This time Nero actually cooperates with the police (unheard of) and together they must figure out not only who the murderer is but who was the intended victim! This one was full of twists and turns that kept me guessing the whole way through.
Kevin Estabrook
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of the Nero Wolfe AMC series, I've wanted to read the stories for a while. This was the first story I read, and it was enjoyable. I can tell that Maury Chaykin's amazing acting will forever effect my mental picture of Wolfe!
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Archie riding high with a good blend of Wolfe, and others.
Helen Thompson
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite books so far - kept me guessing right till the end!
Dakota McCoy
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it— that’s a lot rarer these days! :)
Another excellent Nero Wolfe book. It's such a joy to listen to Archie's narration/viewpoint of Nero Wolfe.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe always gets 5 stars from me

I thought I had read all the Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout. Always, another one pops up, and I am engrossed again.
Thomas Paul
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe needs a case and fortunately a murder occurs right on the radio for Wolfe to solve. One of the guests on the Madeline Fraser radio program has been poisoned. At first it looks like the murderer may have killed the wrong person but Wolfe isn't so sure. So he offers the host, the station, and the sponsors (the victim was killed with poison placed in a sample of the soda of one of the sponsors) for the opportunity to hire him to solve the case and they all jump at the chance.

In a big cas
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone poisoned a guest, editor of a horse tipster magazine, on Madeline Fraser's radio talk show. The show sponsors agree to hire Nero Wolfe to find the poisoner, but Wolfe's assistant Archie is outraged to see that Wolfe apparently plans to earn his fee by letting the police do the work.
Nan Silvernail
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A radio talk show guest dies on air after taking a drink of a sponsor's product, Hi Spot Cola. This is a nightmare for the program, the sponsor and for the guests. The police are not making any headway. Archie points out that Nero Wolfe's taxes are due. So Wolfe decides to solve the case to earn a nice, fat fee. Simple, right? Oh, no. So very wrong!

Here Be Spoilers

First, Yay for the cover art. Very well done!

Alas! Wolfe does not end up solving this
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in the process of rereading (listening to the perfectly matched Michael Pritchard) many of the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin mysteries. They hold up very well; in fact, as each novel takes place contemporaneous to its writing, many could be considered period pieces. And be a Villain takes place in 1948 so there are no cell phones, everything is typed, etc. Commercials were done live on the radio, and that features prominently in the mystery as one of the murders is committed on-the-ai ...more
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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)
“If you want to be contentious wait until you learn what you have to contend with. It works better that way.” 2 likes
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