Kara's Reviews > Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout
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's review
Sep 27, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: food-and-drink, mystery, great-depression, between-the-wars

How have I never read Nero Wolf before? He’s awesome!!

This book was deliciously wonderful on many, many levels:

The mystery: A classic case of a body found at a hotel full of suspicious guests and the private detective rolling his eyes and gnashing his teeth that he was trying to take a vacation!

The food: If you read this on an empty stomach, you will be left starving, but whatever you reach for to eat will leave you almost in tears because I guarantee you, whatever you are eating right now, it cannot compare to the mouthwatering dishes listed through out the story. Its well ahead of its time as it argues American cuisine can be compared to old world fare.

The setting: The year is 1937 and you are never allowed to forget it. Telegrams, new fangled air travel, slang and mannerism that these days seem straight out of a film noir spoof, overt sexism and racism (but, to be fair, done in a equal opportunity kind of way – every single country/continent/ethic/race is given non-political correct treatment), train rides that take two days, and, rather ominously, a character remarking on how war is due to break out any moment. The book was written in the time period – more proof positive that everyone knew WWII was coming.

Civil Rights – Race issues are part of the plot, and Nero Wolf almost single handily kicks off the Civil Right movement 30 years early. He lectures to both white and back men that all men are created equal and so all men should treat each other equally. Just the men, mind you – Nero Wolf believes all women are hysterical base creatures that should stay out of his way.

The characters – there’s a lot of these, and a little hard to keep track of, but wow, an international smorgasbord of interesting people. All of them, for one reason or another, highly suspect….

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