Book Report: Might As Well Be Dead by Rex Stout (1956)

Book cover This book is the second of the two in the Three Aces omnibus edition I’m reading (remember, gentle reader, I have begun to break out the individual novels within omnibus editions for individual review, but when I’m done, this will still only count as a single volume for my annual book count).

At any rate, the plot: A businessman from the midwest comes to New York, seeking his son whom he drove off after the businessman thought the son had embezzled some money. Now that the real culprit has been identified, years later, the father wants to reconcile. Well, the mother wants to see the boy again. However, the police cannot find the son, so either he’s long gone or he’s changed his name. Wolfe guesses that the son will still retain his initials, so he has Goodwin place an ad in the paper that says, “P.H., we know you didn’t do it.” Strangely, that is the name of a recently convicted murderer who couldn’t be the guy, could he?

Of course he is. He’s taking the fall for killing his twue wuv’s husband, mostly because he thinks she’s done it. She thinks he’s done it. Since someone has begun to follow Goodwin, Wolfe suspects that the real culprit might still be out there. So he cogitates and Goodwin and the other bit players start running down leads. Other deaths during the investigation confirm Wolfe’s suspicion, so the book progresses until Wolfe unmasks the real killer in a sitdown in his (Wolfe’s) office.

It’s a good book for the genre. Those olden days mysteries, especially the good ones like this one, keep it moving, don’t get too detailed, and come in under 200 pages. Remember those days? Modern authors don’t, but I guess if you’re going to drop $30 on a hardback, the authors want to give you 140,000 words to make it worth your money. I think ebooks will change that for the better, make reading less of a daunting undertaking. Or so I hope.

Books mentioned in this review: