The Broken Vase by Rex Stout

I think I’ve only read three books by Rex Stout before I bought The Broken Vase, and I just assumed that it was going to be a Nero Wolfe book, but it isn’t. Rex Stout books are not thick on the ground in Scotland, or England for that matter but I came across this one in a junk/bric a brac shop just over the border in England. They only had about 20 books so it was a stroke of luck they had this one, an old Crime Club hardback from 1947. My only gripe is that there’s a paucity of likeable characters but there is humour, which is always a plus.

The detective is Tecumseh Fox (is that a native American name? – for update see last paragraph) and Stout wrote only three books with Tec Fox as the detective, presumably he wasn’t as happy with him as a character. The Broken Vase was first published in 1942.

Jan Tusar is a young and successful classical violinist and Tecumseh Fox is one of five people who have contributed to a fund to purchase a Stradivarius for him. Tec is amongst the audience to hear Jan playing the violin for the first time in public, but the concert is a disaster, the violin sounds terrible and the audience is baffled, the evening ends in tragedy.

I enjoyed this vintage mystery, maybe not as much as a Nero /Archie book but still well worth reading.

Jack has just told me Tecumseh was US Civil War General Sherman’s middle name – after the Shawnee chief who fought against the US with the British in 1812 – and he pointed me in this direction. It’s great having your own encyclopaedia at home.

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