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A Family Affair (The Rex Stout Library) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, January 1, 1993
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

4 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From AudioFile

Reader Michael Prichard delivers a convincing rendition of Archie Goodwin, the burly right hand of the portly Nero Wolfe, world-renowned gourmand and detective. Prichard preserves the 1970s setting and 1950s origins of the story, bringing listeners a well-paced narration of murder and politics--a combination of elements that usually guarantees an exciting listen. This audio entertainment is as well formed and fragrant as one of Wolfe's hothouse orchids (the stout sleuth cultivates them by the hundreds in his town house greenhouse) as Goodwin walks us through an explosive murder investigation and political wheeling and dealing in a tough yet intelligent read. D.J.B. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Crimeline (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553241222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553241228
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.5 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
We read the entire (and considerable) collection of Nero Wolfe stories nearly forty years ago, some contemporaneous with their original publication. "Family Affair", released in 1975, turned out to be Rex Stout's last novel, even though his estate paid Robert Goldsborough to do a credible job of writing seven more entries in the Wolfe series. Stout was in his early 80's as of this writing, but his plot and vocabulary were as excellent as ever, with quite a surprising twist and sense of justice at the close of the story. During our recent re-read, we were a little surprised to see political commentary about Watergate and (then President) Nixon - obviously the author was upset at the scandalous turn of events, and uses Wolfe's dialogue to register his severe chagrin.

This book reminds us of several things. One - it's amazing how much fun, mystery, and suspense some of the classic writers of fifty years ago could pack into a 150-200 page volume. Few words were wasted, and no filler or irrelevant subplots were deployed to compile the 400-700 page tomes we so often get today. Two - it occurs to us, that characters were revealed ever so slowly over the course of multiple stories. So one can't just pick up this novel and even begin to understand the complexities of our genius detective and his affable sidekick; it takes reading several entries in the set to really get to know these guys in a way that eventually seals their place in our hearts and minds as "best friends!" Lastly, there is a certain predictability we come to enjoy - not from guessing the outcome (difficult!) but rather just enjoying the eccentricities and habits of the familiar people and places: Wolfe's bottle caps, his globe, Cramer's cigars, the old brownstone, etc.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I didn't see in this book that characters were out of character or that the plot or whatnot had problems. Archie is his usual capable smartass self, and Wolfe's diction and grammar remain laser-precise (to use a metaphor he would scorn). The difference from the other novels is that this one has a somber note, and it sounded from Stout's deep disappointment with Watergate. (Wolfe fans know of his respect for words: "somber" goes back to a near-identical French word that means "grave.") Stout was thinking about issues of patriotism and betrayal when he penned this novel, and it shows. It should. Nixon was given control of the ship of state, and while steering it he indulged in wrecklessness and flummery.
Wolfe does break some of his cherished rules; but can't we allow him to in Archie's last report of his doings? And he breaks them because the case is "a family affair." His self-esteem, as large as his fabled seventh of a ton, has been tweaked. A murder has happened in his own home--and, twice as indigestible, the victim is mighty Nero's own waiter at Rusterman's. He requires satisfaction and will halt his planetary momentum at nothing--not even jail time--to get it.
Being a male chauvinist lookalike, as Saul Panzer would have it (and not just a lookalike, unfortunately), Archie's machismo could never allow him to comment at length on how he felt about where the investigation led. His lapses say it for him. A question implicit in what he and Wolfe discover is: how does one come to terms with finding betrayal where one expected sincerity? It can be an anguishing question, and the stylish solution devised by "the family" leaves behind it both a mystery solved but a lesson learned about the need to be critical of those who claim to uphold the law of the land.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Why do people say that Stout's age was showing when he wrote this book? To me, it's just as clever as any of the previous Wolfe tomes, and it has a surprising, killer ending. Very courageous of Stout to plot it like he did. An excellent book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A FAMILY AFFAIR is a bittersweet finish to Stout's wonderful series. One of Rusterman's waiters is killed in Wolfe's home and the resulting investigation heads down a path that lies very close to Wolfe and Archie. All the extended cast make an appearance; Cramer and Stebbins, Lily Rowan and even Theodore Horstman, Wolfe's orchid man, all have a moment in this farewell. The killer is revealed relatively early in this one as it leads to dark ending; an ending befitting the grim circumstances of this case. This is not the best of Stout's Wolfe mysteries but it certainly is a memorable one.

The closing lines bring the series to an appropriate end:

Wolfe said, "Will you bring brandy, Archie? And two glasses. If Fritz is up, bring him and three glasses. We'll try to get some sleep." after forty years of wonderful adventures and possibly the most re-readable mysteries ever, they deserve it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Family Affair was the last Nero Wolfe book written by the wonderful Rex Stout, and I loved it. When you commit a crime, ultimately you must pay for it (one way or another). the feelings of betrayal, anger and overall sadness in this book to me seemed palpable, it takes time to bring yourself to believe the truth that has been staring you right in the face all along, and when you do see it ...its bittersweet, but you are resolved that you must see it through. this book displayed real emotion. I gave it 5 stars

"It's possible to tell your mind what to do,only when your mind agrees with you". Archie Goodwin
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