Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gambit: Review

The Gambit Club is an exclusive New York establishment for men interested in the strategic board game. Paul Jerin, a non-member, chess expert, is invited to take on twelve members of the club in simultaneous "blind-fold" games. In other words, he will sit in a room separate from all the players--with no boards in front of him--and relay his moves through messengers to the players in a central room. During the course of the evening, Jerin is served hot chocolate--his drink of choice--and becomes ill.  A doctor who is a member of the club is called upon to render what aid he can, but it becomes clear that Jerin needs to be taken to a hospital. He is, but he never leaves.  Investigations reveal that Jerin died from arsenic poisoning and that the poison must have been in the pot of hot chocolate.

The man responsible for Jerin's game with the club members is Matthew Blount. He is also the man that Inspector Cramer and New York's finest decide is responsible for the arsenic in the chocolate. When all the questions have been asked and everyone's movements have been traced, it looks like Blount is the only one with a hint of a motive who had any opportunity to do the deed. Blount's daughter is just as certain that her father is innocent and is none too sure that his lawyer has everything he needs to defend him. So she decides to hire Nero Wolfe...because he is a wizard. The appeal to his vanity (and a twenty-two thousand dollar fee) makes Wolfe certain of her father's innocence as well.  But until he gets a bit of information that causes him to look at the pieces on the board from a different angle, it appears that Wolfe may have finally gotten himself into a no-win scenario. 

The fun in this one is that Archie actually gets to the solution before Wolfe and I got it at the same time as we both outdid the genius. I don't care what the Facebook intelligence quiz I took yesterday least for today I'm better than a genius.  We don't get to see as much of Fritz and the other private detectives on Wolfe's payroll and Cramer isn't chewing through his cigars quite as vigorously, but this is still a good example of the Wolfe series.  Good, tight plot.  Clues available.  And a nice twist.  Four stars in all.

This fulfills the "Read a Book Read by Another Challenger" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card. Gambit was read by Les over at Classic Mysteries and he urged me to read it with a high recommendation.  Take a peek at his review to see what he thought about Rex Stout's 1962 novel.

Challenges met: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Bookish TBR, Century of Books, Outdo Yourself, How Many Books, My Kind of Mystery, 100 Plus Challenge, Book Bingo, Literary Exploration, A-Z Reading Challenge, Book Monopoly, A-Z Mystery Authors


fredamans said...

While I appreciate the review and think it has parts I would like, I still don't think this book is for me. Maybe the subject matter, I don't know, but it's just not calling me.

Bev Hankins said...

Nero Wolfe isn't for everyone....One of the few American detectives that I really like.

Anonymous said...

The Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin mysteries are favorites of mine, Bev (as you know, and thanks for the pointer!). You could think of them as PI novels for people who really don't read PI novels - there's a lot of humor, limited violence and a memorable group of series characters. Glad you enjoyed Gambit!

Bev Hankins said...

Yes, I know, Les. Wolfe and Goodwin are favorites of mine too--and quite probably for the very reasons you mention. Thanks for the incentive to go ahead get this one off the TBR pile!