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Too Many Cooks & Champagne for One

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The swashbuckling archaeologist returns in one of his most challenging adventures yet! A novelization of I wasn't very keen on Too Many Cooks, which is one of the weaker Stout novels I've read so far, but I loved Champagne for One, so really my rating should be 2 stars for the earlier book and 4 for the later one. In the first novel, Wolfe for once steps out of his brownstone and accompanies Archie to a battle of the chefs, which is inevitably disrupted by murder. I thought it would be fun to have the characters out of their normal milieu, but in fact I don't think it works all that well.

There also really are too many cooks, as it was hard to keep track of all the potential suspects. Racial stereotyping is another problem. By contrast, Champagne for One is a delight. With Wolfe safely back home with his orchids, Archie has plenty of scope to enjoy his role as man about town. He is invited to a party with champagne cocktails on offer, but once again there's murder on the menu and a complicated plot ensues. The supporting characters are much more individual in this one than in Too Many Cooks, and the dialogue is wonderfully witty, including a classic confrontation between Wolfe and Archie.

View all 4 comments. Mar 27, Nate Dorward rated it liked it. Worthwhile though not top-flight Stout The books are two decades apart, and the first, "Too Many Cooks" , is interestingly symptomatic of its time: lots of racial slurs, the fact that the murder is committed in blackface! The later book, "Champagne for One", has a neat set Worthwhile though not top-flight Stout The later book, "Champagne for One", has a neat setup--the puzzle of how Faith Usher could be murdered by a poisoned glass of champagne when the murderer couldn't have been certain of who would get the glass.

The earlier book is the stronger by dint of more memorable characters and much higher stakes--no, not the murder and its solution, but the question of whether Nero Wolfe will elicit the recipe for saucisse minuit from a recalcitrant chef. But Champagne for One pulled up the score to four for this omnibus. I am reading these in order, so this review is just for Too Many Cooks. Trigger warning, please read.

The first half of this book is very racist, even for its time. Archie uses about every slang word possible for African Americans, the N-word many times. But he also refers to an accomplished Italian chef as a "dago sausage cook" and to a Chinese woman as a "geisha" - acknowledging that all geishas are "Japs" but "it's all the same.

Too Many Cooks/Champagne for One by Rex Stout | mudywehy.tk: Books

At first I conflated the character's racism with the author I am reading these in order, so this review is just for Too Many Cooks. At first I conflated the character's racism with the author. Rex Stout was a Hoosier, and as someone who was born in Indiana and lived there for 39 years, I know the type racists.

That's not all Hoosiers, obviously, but I digress. In chapter 10 Nero Wolfe needs to interview the staff of a resort, all of whom are black. Nero launches in by getting to know them personally, making them his equal, and acknowledging that they are as American as anyone - maybe more so than himself since he was "not born here" in America. So let's just say the character of Archie is sadly very racist and hard to swallow in this book.

Beyond that it's a pretty good mystery, though the only illuminating point on Archie and Nero is the aforementioned speech by Nero. And that is somewhat diminished two books later in Over My Dead Body, when Nero claims that he was born in America leaving me to wonder if the author changed his mind or if Nero lied to ingratiate himself. The story takes place in a resort where famous chefs are gathered and Nero is the guest of honor. He rides a train and everything! By the way, this gag that Nero never leaves his house is broken about every third book. So you can stop being surprised when it happens.

It was good. Not the best in the series. Apr 29, Angela rated it liked it Shelves: library , mysteries. I did feel that they solution to the mystery was a little too easy but I enjoyed the despicable characters. I found the premise of someone who carried cyanide around and told everyone that she was going to kill herself completely ludicrous though. It was interesting to see the attitude and expectation of unmarried mothers at this time. Nov 11, J. Archie is s little less likable as he lets loose more than one racist pejorative but the story is good.

The second book is just as entertaining. All the usual characters and s snooty cast of suspects. Fun but not the best at this point late in the series, a little predictable Great fun. Everyone true to type. A bit predictable. Same old Archie as week as ever. Jun 22, Mark Lisac rated it really liked it.

Champagne for One is a very good Nero Wolfe mystery but standard in its way. Too Many Cooks, which predates it by two decades, is the intriguing oddity in this duo.


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The racial epithets in Too Many Cooks are jarring, as many reviewers note. But the more you read into the story, the more it seems that Stout was making a point to a degree unusual for him.

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One passage has Wolfe commenting on human morality, as he does on a few occasions in other novels. What's highly unusual is that his actions throu Champagne for One is a very good Nero Wolfe mystery but standard in its way. What's highly unusual is that his actions throughout the novel constitute a running comment on race relations in the U. A southern sheriff and one or two others feel free to throw around the most hurtful word for blacks and the most stereotyped attitudes.

Archie Goodwin occupies a curious middle ground, never going as far as the sheriff but casually throwing around words like "shines" and "dagoes" and "polacks. Stout may well have been making a point rather than merely mirroring attitudes of his time. I think he was. All the more interesting, then, that the openness to racial equality is not matched by a similar openness to women, even if Stout himself married a quite accomplished one.

The women in the story begin and end the book as somewhat witch-like characters, capable of enchantment. Too Many Cooks also a pretty good story of the classic many-suspects-in-a-room kind. A couple of weeks after writing this review I stumbled across information that a disguise used by the killer in Too Many Cooks was used in at least a couple of notorious criminal cases dating from nearly 20 years before the book was published; I assume that Stout almost certainly would have had them in mind, and they add texture to his implied comments about racism.

Mar 04, Alison C rated it liked it.

Too Many Cooks is the first tale in another of the 2-novels-in-one publications of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series being republished by Bantam these days; this one hails from and features that rarity, Nero Wolfe leaving his New York City home and venturing out into the world!

However, he has good reason to do so, for he is the guest of honour at a gathering of Les Quinze Maitres, the fifteen best chefs in the world. Only ten are at this event, which is only held once every five years, because Too Many Cooks is the first tale in another of the 2-novels-in-one publications of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series being republished by Bantam these days; this one hails from and features that rarity, Nero Wolfe leaving his New York City home and venturing out into the world! Only ten are at this event, which is only held once every five years, because three of the chefs have died and two more were not able to make the trip to West Virginia.

It's only a matter of time before one of these men, the most obnoxious person imaginable of whom at least three fellow Masters have expressed an intent to kill, is indeed murdered, and it's up to Nero Wolfe to solve the crime in time to make his midnight train back home after the final event, a gourmet dinner followed by his, Wolfe's, keynote speech to the gathered chefs A couple of difficult bits for the modern reader in this one, in that one quite unpleasant character uses the n-word a few times, there's some stereotyping of a Chinese-American woman from San Francisco, natch , and even Archie uses the terms "dago" and "smokes" which was a new term to me on a couple of occasions.


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But other than those distasteful to the modern ear, not to the original audience language lapses, this is as richly charactered and fairly clued as any of Stout's books in this series. If you like Nero Wolfe, this is well worth a taste! Like Sherlock Holmes Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join.

Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist. Ships in 7 to 10 business days. Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews "It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery.

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