I don't know when I've enjoyed a mystery as much as Victoria Abbott's The Wolfe Widow. Anyone who is fond of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries should appreciate this homage to that classic series. Abbott attempts to emulate the series, right down to the famous scene when all the characters are brought together so the sleuth can confront the killer. Bravo, Victoria Abbott!
Nine days before Thanksgiving Jordan Bingham can no longer be thankful for her job along with a place to live and outstanding food. She thought she was indispensable to Vera Van Alst, helping her upgrade her vast collection of books while selling others. However, when the formidable Muriel Delgado appeared at the door, forcing her way in, Jordan was fired, thrown out of the house. But, Muriel Delgado didn't know how formidable Jordan Bingham could be, nor how ingenious. What would Archie Goodwin do to find out the truth about Muriel's hold on Vera Van Alst?
Jordan has always been able to rely on her friends for help, but this time she's on her own. For some reason, her best friends aren't answering their phones. So, it's up to Jordan to dig around to find out who Muriel Delgado is. It doesn't help that Jordan's quirky Uncle Kev, still on the premises as a handyman, reports that Muriel is running the household, getting rid of Vera's beloved books, and even her Siamese cats. When Jordan herself becomes a victim, she knows she's right to fear Muriel Delgado and her plans for Vera Van Alst.
A summary of this book can't do justice to the comedy and escapades in The Wolfe Widow. Jordan sees herself as a female Archie Goodwin dressed in vintage clothing. With her friends awol, she pulls together an unlikely crew of assistants, from Uncle Kev to a sexy cable "guy". And, even then, she knows she can really only rely on herself and her slightly shady uncles.
Abbott gives readers a fun plot, a cast of eccentric characters, and a dramatic library scene right out of a Nero Wolfe mystery. If I have a quibble, it's with the excuses provided by Jordan's friends, who really just seem to be conveniently absent. But, that's a mild complaint about one of the most entertaining mysteries I've read this year. The Wolfe Widow would be a welcome addition to any cozy mystery reader's library, even Vera Van Alst's.
Victoria Abbott's website is www.victoria-abbott.com
The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425255308 (paperback), 294p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.