April 14, 2020
Okay, okay, okay, I have to have one more Cocktail Talk from the bountiful holiday bounty that is The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries. If you missed the first two winter-holiday-in-spring Cocktail Talks, then roll back in time with Christmas Mystery Cocktail Talk #1 and Christmas Mystery Cocktail Talk #2. Good? Cheerful with holiday cheer? Good? Then it’s time for a little Santa bartender thanks to Rex Stout, his legendary detective Nero Wolfe, and the story “Christmas Party” – at this Christmas party, there’s some merriment, and then some murder, as you’d expect. And some Pernod! You probably didn’t expect that, but see the below (and get The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries).
“I can stand a sip, Al.”
“But you won’t enjoy it. Wait.” Kiernan put his glass on the bar and marched to the door on the left and on out. In five seconds, he was back, with a bottle in his hand, and as he rejoined us and asked Santa Claus for a glass I saw the Pernod label. He pulled the cork, which had been pulled before, filled the glass halfway, and held it out to Bottweill. “There,” he said. “That will make it unanimous.”
“Thanks Al,” Bottweill took it. “My secret public vice.”
— Rex Stout, Christmas Party
December 3, 2013
I haven’t read a whole lot of Rex Stout books, which is a bit weird, as his famous detective Nero Wolfe and the era he wrote in both hit me fairly square in my detective-y wheelhouse (not to mention that I love the covers, as I tend to, of books from that age). But hey, these things happen. However, when I came across a copy of his book entitled The Case of the Red Box, in a pocket-sized copy and with a cover that I couldn’t resist, well, I couldn’t resist. And it was a good read, for sure, with multiple murders, a great twist-y-ness, and a lot of beer. Perhaps the strangest thing about Nero Wolfe isn’t that he never leaves his house (or rarely), or that he takes hours every day to deal with his orchids, or that he only eats at home, etc. But that he drinks a ton of beer while interviewing suspects. Awesome! However, the below quote is even better, so I skipped the beer . . . this time.
You do shorthand in that book? Good: put this down. McNair was an inveterate eater of snails, and he preferred calvados to cognac. His wife died in childbirth because he was insisting on being an artist and was too poor and incompetent to provide proper care for her.
–Rex Stout, The Case of the Red Box