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Publisher's Summary

Nero Wolfe and his assistant, Archie Goodwin, star in these four gems. In "The Christmas Party", Archie and his fiancée attend an office party where Wolfe condescends to uncharacteristic theatrics. His dramatic technique is good, but it isn't enough to clear him from suspicion of murder. The "Easter Parade" tempts Wolfe to commit petty larceny for an orchid. Though that crime goes unpunished, the inevitable murder doesn't. "A Fourth of July Picnic" has Wolfe scheduled for an unprecedented appearance as an orator. But his day in the sun is rained out by murder. The last selection, "Murder Is No Joke", is a whodunit in a couturier's salon, where a murderer is dressed to kill and kill again.
©1958 Rex Stout (P)1997 Books on Tape
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Critic Reviews

"It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 06-22-14

Two of the Best Wolfe Shorts and Two Ok

This book contains four Nero Wolfe short stories; Christmas Party, Easter Parade, Fourth of July Picnic, and Murder Is No Joke (later expanded into the novel Frame-Up for Murder). Although I love short stories in general, I have not enjoyed the Nero Wolfe short stories as much as the novels. I really like the way Stout develops the story and characters in his novels, while his short stories often are missing something for me and generally seem rushed. Two of these four shorts were pleasurable exceptions. I really liked Christmas Party and Easter Parade. Both of these two stories had limited twists, but what they had were quite good. The other two were not bad. The narration was first-rate at usual.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Vales Tales on 08-14-15

Good, but Not Great Archie & Wolfe Quartet

The story Murder is No Joke is the shorter & weaker version of Frame-up for Murder, which appears in Death Times Three. The much improved Flora Gallant in that story is much more interesting & gives Archie a stronger motivation for getting involved.

Fourth of July Picnic is one of my least favorite Wolfe & Archie stories. Weak plot & almost no detection. Very weak characters.

Easter Parade is not far ahead or behind (depending on how you look at it). Only the character of Tabby makes it almost likable.

The best story, Christmas Party, also suffers from mostly flat characters, archetypes & stereotypes, and only Santa Claus makes it fun.

Overall, maybe my least favorite Archie & Nero book.

HOWEVER, even the *worst* of Wolfe is better than almost anything else when read by Michael Prichard. His rendition of the regulars, as well as a few of the "guest stars", is worth the price of admission.

We also get a thumbnail autobiography of Wolfe in one story, that fleshes out (sorry for the pun there) Wolfe's early pre-NYC days a bit.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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