The Last Drive
And Other Stories
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Tales of murder and mayhem from one of the twentieth century’s greatest mystery authors
When Colonel Phillips begins his final game of golf, his greatest problem in life is that he has begun to slice the ball. Playing with his lawyer and nephews, Phillips fights his way back into the game and is on the verge of victory when he keels over. He clutches his chest, mumbles a few words, and is dead in minutes. The doctor has no doubt: The colonel was poisoned. Finding the culprit falls to the president of the golf club, amateur detective Canby Rankin, who will do whatever it takes to find the killer on the links.
Written nearly a century ago, “The Last Drive” is now available for the first time in book form. Clever, charming, and absolutely baffling, it is the tale that inspired the first Nero Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance, and along with the other stories in this volume represents the early efforts of a modern genius.
“Nero Wolfe towers over his rivals. . . . He is an exceptional character creation.” —The New Yorker
“It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore.” —The New York Times Book Review
Rex Stout (1886–1975) is one of the most beloved mystery novelists of all time, best known for creating the corpulent genius Nero Wolfe. Born in Indiana, Stout was a child arithmetic prodigy who spent his leisure time reading every book in his father’s twelve-hundred-thousand-volume library. After two years in the navy—which he passed playing whist on Theodore Roosevelt’s yacht—Stout began organizing children’s field trips to banks, where he was paid a commission for every student who opened a savings account. He made a fortune, and in the late 1920s retired to write serious fiction.
After the Depression wiped out his savings, Stout began writing detective stories. Fer-de-Lance (1934) introduced Nero Wolfe, master of deduction, and his indefatigable assistant, Archie Goodwin. Over the next four decades, Stout published dozens of stories and novels starring the quirky pair, earning him a place in the mystery novelist’s pantheon alongside Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner. He died in Connecticut in 1975.