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

(Nero Wolfe #45)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,554 ratings  ·  103 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
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,554 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 16, 2010 rated it liked it

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 well told, with the same old cast of characters we have come to love.
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wolfe's personal friend and doctor asked him to see a patient of one of his colleagues - the latter seems to need a professional help from a private detective. The guy has a delusion his hands are always bloody and he cannot wash out the blood:
bloody hands
Wolfe reluctantly agreed, but nothing came out of this visit. Well, almost nothing: it gave Archie Goodwin an idea.

Wolfe had not had a paying client for a while and his bank account was somewhat in bad shape - to put it mildly. The visitor was working at
Jill Hutchinson
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Need I say that I love Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin? Another goody from Rex Stout; short and cleverly plotted, it concerns a bomb in the drawer of a high placed executive of a television station which kills the wrong man......or does it? Wolfe is actually puzzled 2/3 of the way through the book which is unusual for the genius detective but of course he prevails. This is my alternate book from my 500+ plus page main read about King Edward VII. And, as usual, it is superb. I may be one of the wor ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I feel that my reviews of Stout's Wolfe and Goodwin books are redundant. They are funny with lively characters who engage in witty repartee through out the story. If the men and women are slightly cliche to our 21st tastes, just think of it as vintage.

A man believes he's got blood on his hands and the psychiatric clinic he has visited cannot help him. One of the counselor's sends him to Wolfe to see if the man might truly be guilty of a crime, especially since he is using a false name.

With a lit
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Between 1934 and 1975, Rex Stout wrote 33 novels and 39 novellas featuring his fictional detective Nero Wolfe and Wolfe’s wise cracking assistant, Archie Goodwin. Reading one of his novels is like pulling an old, favored sweater out of your dresser drawer and putting it on. The sweater might be a little out of style, but it’s comfortable. Brilliant, but misanthropic and eccentric, Wolfe is a great literary creation and Stout constructed well-plotted mysteries that he wrote in a breezy style. If ...more
Ruth J Hanson
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great reading.

I ALWAYS enjoy Nero Wolfe books. I re-read them. My daughter does the same. I will loan them, but never give them away.
Erin L
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pi, on-my-shelf, classics
When you think classic mysteries, Rex Stout and his Nero Wolfe detective doesn't always spring to mind. I really do think he belongs there though. The world that's been created around Nero's townhouse is amazing. The characters are strongly developed and true to that character development - even after 45 books. I feel like each time I read these books, it's a little like going home.

In this one, there's a bomb in the corporate office of an employee who is competing to be the next CEO. The problem
Leslie Balkany
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Always fun to read Rex Stout, especially for his twists and sense of humor.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another erudite look at the standoffish genius of the armchair detective, Nero Wolfe, and his look into a mysterious death of a buisiness man Inspecter Cramer, Sarg Rowcliffe, Archie Goodwin, Fred, Orrie, and Saul are the usual crew who make up the main characters in this one. The suspects all were involved with the changing of the head of the corporation, due to the impending retirement of the former bossman. Although I read this years before, I could never guess who really done it, as Nero W i ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
An oldie but goodie. Love the Nero WOlf stories
Adam Graham
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013, mystery
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
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Diane K.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After waiting four years, impatient fans probably thought this book reasonably worth the wait, (while at the same time sighing for three books that could have been). It was quite an exciting, interesting mystery.

One blooper I noted--when Wolfe mentions the title of the book, a character admires the turn of phrase. Wolfe states that Mr. Goodwin would admire it also, and adds that he had once stated that he, Wolfe, "rides words bareback." Mr. Goodwin did not. That was Paul Whipple, in A RIGHT TO D
David Miller
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book came out 4 years after the previous one, an unprecedented gap in the series. Only one more Nero Wolfe book was published in Rex Stout's lifetime; 3 stories were found after he died and published posthumously. In this book it is very clear the culture has changed: the words "prick", "pecker", "grass", "LSD", "vagina" all find their place here. One thing about reading these books: since the Wolfe household basically stays the same over the 40+ years of the series, it's easy and interesti ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Archie wangles a wealthy client after a corporate executive is killed in a bomb explosion--in one of his rival's office. Frankly, to me this is not one of Wolfe's best, as he starts off with an advantage over the police, and still can't find a clue, until Archie (again!) persuades the client to make a move. Even then, the case doesn't make too much sense to me.
Rena Sherwood
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
Not one of Stout's best. He seemed to be churning them out mechanically by the end of his life. It's hard to care who did what to whom by page 100.
Hudson Murrell
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 notch.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Nero Wolfe is always a good timepass, though I wish I could find a different reader than Michael Pritchard, whose voice is metallic and rather inflexible. Published in 1973, there is definitely more profanity used by all the characters than the earlier novels, though there are a couple of words Archie glosses over by saying someone used a word that's illegal to use over the phone. (Who knew? If Stout said it, it was probably true then, he checked things like that.)

Stout was 87 at the time he wr
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. After reading almost all the Nero Wolfe books written by Rex Stout, I have been delaying reading the final Nero Wolfe books because I hate to see them end.

I wish I could give Please Pass the Guilt 4.5 stars because it was better than 4 stars. But, the reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because I didn’t like the way the story abruptly ended. Otherwise, it was classic Nero Wolfe.

The reason why this book was fascinating was because over the years of writing his books, Rex Stout has l
Virginia Tican
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This had a strange beginning. A psychiatric patient was referred to Wolfe by their friend and doctor for exhibiting a Lady Macbeth syndrome where he kept on washing his "bloody" hands only it turned out that he was faking it as Wolfe found out. The death of one of the 2 vice~presidents in contention to be the president of a television network had Archie in such a turmoil of contemplation plus an urgent need of replenishment of funds for the upkeep of the Wolfe Den and its occupants ~ both plants ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read this before, long ago, but it was a joy to reread. Archie and Nero are my favorites! When a man is blown up by a bomb in his desk drawer, his widow hires Nero Wolfe to find out who did it, although she is sure she already knows. There are a plethora of suspects, some rather difficult to deal with (including their client!) But of course they figure it out in the end. Recommended for anyone who likes classic detective stories. No sex (other than Nero's conviction that Archie can seduce a ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to this audiobook. Being a Nero Wolfe fan, I always enjoy these books. Nero Wolfe is the eccentric private eye. Archie Goodwin is his right hand man and narrator of the books. In this episode Wolfe takes on the case of an executive who is blown up by a bomb when he opens a drawer in his boss's desk. Who planted the bomb? Was the intended victim the man who was blown up, or his boss, or his boss's secretary? As usual, multiple scenarios keeps Wolfe thinking and Archie and the other ope ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
An executive is killed by a bomb exploding in the desk drawer of a colleague. The man's wife is very rich, and pays Nero Wolf to find out who killed her husband. It turns out the man killed was in contention for president of the company with the man whose desk drawer had the bomb. The killed man was planning to put LSD in his whiskey. However, only the wife, her secretary, and the police who found the LSD in the dead man's pocket knew. As usual, Archie and Nero heard a lot of lies from the folks ...more
I was a little surprised with this Nero Wolfe story. It was written a little differently. I felt like it took a lot longer to get the point where Wolfe get the hint he needs to put it all together and the way he hold his conclusions back and has people do things that they don't understand to make it all come together and come out into the open are my favorite parts of Nero stories, so this one being so close to the end with pretty much no lead up to the reveal was a little disappointing to me.
Judy Hall
Written in the mid-70s, this book touches on psychiatry, television, women's equality and even Middle-Eastern terrorists operating in the US. In some ways, it could have been written today and in other ways, if it weren't for the technology, could have been written in the 1950's. The classic Nero Wolfe formula and characters are there. All that changes is the setting.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the worst Wolfe novel I think I’ve read. Disjointed, with a meager motive for the killer. Stout’s abilities were clearly waning by this second to last novel. Some passages were so poorly written that I had to reread sections.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the better Wolfe's I've read lately; the ending is one of the most clever in the series. Stout laid out all the clues for the reader (not his usual gig), and I didn't see it coming, and I bet most people don't. Only one left in the series now. I hope it's as good.
Darrell Benjamin
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining read

Thought it was entertaining, although portions of it seemed to be similar to others of his mysteries. I do enjoy the Nero Wolfe series.
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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

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