Please Pass the Guilt: First Edition
Please Pass the Guilt: First Edition

Kenneth Meer wasn't one of them. Yet a week after the explosion, he was in the psychiatric ward suffering from something the doctors called "The Lady Macbeth Syndrome"— invisible blood on the hands. There were various possibilities:

  • He had planted the bomb himself and the burden of guilt was too great for him.  
  • Or: he hadn't but knew who had.
  • Or: the event itself was too heavy - - the havoc, the shrapnel-shattered flesh, the blood on the walls . . .

All valid guesses, but just guesses. Meanwhile, a man who had killed for no reason was wandering around with a bomb in a briefcase.

This time he had all the reason in the world to kill . . . and kill again!

"That was a first -- the first time Inspector Cramer had ever arrived and been escorted to the office in the middle of a session with the hired hands. And Saul Panzer did something he seldom does -- he stunted. He was in the red leather chair, and when I ushered Cramer in I expected to find Saul on his feet, moving up another yellow chair to join Fred and Orrie, but no. He was staying put. Cramer, surprised, stood in the middle of the rug and said, loud, 'Oh?' Wolfe, surprised at Saul, put his brows up. I, pretending I wasn't surprised, went to get a yellow chair. And damned if Cramer didn't cross in front of Fred and Orrie to my chair, swing it around, and park his big fanny on it. As he sat, Saul, his lips a little tight to keep from grinning, got up and came to take the yellow chair I had brought. That left the red leather chair empty and I went and occupied it, sliding back and crossing my legs to show that I was right at home." (p. 72)

This is the penultimate Nero Wolfe novel, published in 1975 when Stout was 87 years old, and it is a solid work of craftsmanship with all the familiar pleasures a Wolfe fan could desire, including a delightful bonus: Lieutenant Rowcliff finally gets what's coming to him. Stout throws in a few contemporary touches--LSD, Arab Terrorism--but the real delight is of course in a familiar type of tale told well, with the same old cast of characters we have come to love. []