13 June, 2019

#BookReview :: Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe #5) by Rex Stout

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This was a ‘change’ from the usual Nero Wolfe books because… wait for it… Nero is not in his Brownstone but in a convention for the best chefs from around the world that is happening at West Virginia. Yes, so ultimately it is food that got Nero to travel. At the convention, a chef gets murdered and there are plenty of suspects around as the victim himself, was not very popular among his peers. Nero reluctantly takes up the case to find the murderer. It does help that he is also on the hunt for a recipe at the same time.

The plot was as usual interesting with a couple of red herrings. Nero continues to play things close and Archie is close on his heels. It was quite jarring to see Nero out and about and it was quite interesting too. There’s a huge cast of characters in the book offering up various possibilities in terms of motive for the murder. The jealousy and the competition between the chefs had an almost tangible feeling. Not to mention the employees of the resort where the convention was happening. That brought in the element of racism which was handled quite well by the author.  The prevalence of prejudice at the time had been captured in an effectual manner and the point that he makes about it being wrong is done in a subtle but effective way. A repeating theme in the series is Nero and Archie’s attitude towards women and it is evermore clear in this book. While I do find it offensive at times, the author balances it out by making sure that almost every story has a strong woman character. It’s a kind of conflict that I have come to terms with… almost. 

Even with Nero’s outing, I think this book could have been more as the beginning of the book was a bit too slow of a start. This is certainly not one of my favourites in the series so far, but I am not going to hold it against the series as with 70 odd stories in the series, a few are bound to fall short on expectations.

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