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See the video with Timothy Hutton & Maury Chaykin,
By A Customer
This review is from: Golden Spiders (Nero Wolfe Mysteries) (Mass Market Paperback)This has been adapted twice as the pilot of a TV series: once for the short-lived 1980s series with William Conrad, and once for the A&E series with Maury Chaykin. I prefer the latter adaptation, and recommend it wholeheartedly. (I like it better than the book itself, truth be told.)
Once every spring, a farmer in upstate New York brings a bag of fresh starlings to the brownstone, and Fritz prepares a special treat. This year, though, Fritz decided to experiment with the seasoning, so Wolfe instructed him to throw it out. It didn't help when Archie intercepted the dish and ate it alone. :)
Archie thinks it tactful to answer the door during dinner, rather than leaving it to Fritz. Pete Dacos isn't a typical client; in fact, he's one of the neighbourhood kids. While wiping windshields at the corner, he saw a woman with golden spider earrings mouth the words 'help, get a cop'. Pete wants whatever reward money may be involved, but he figures he needs a little help. (Wolfe wants to punish Archie for eating the starlings, so he hears Pete out while Archie takes notes.) The next day, Purley (having been given the plate number of the car Pete saw) wants to know where their information came from - two hours ago, the car deliberately ran over Pete, who died soon after reaching the hospital. His mother had time to speak to him before he died, and fulfills her son's last wish: she hires Wolfe to catch his killer, with Pete's savings ($4.30) - an offer Wolfe and Archie can't refuse. Purley reveals that the car, which was stolen, had killed an INS agent a few days before.
Archie suggests placing an ad to contact the woman with the golden spider earrings - and both he and Wolfe are startled to catch something in the net. Mrs. Damen Fromm wants to hire Wolfe to investigate the boy's story. She won't tell Wolfe what she knows, and soon Wolfe finds himself investigating her murder as well as Pete's, to justify the retainer she paid him. Was financial chicanery going on in some of her charity work? Was the INS agent connected with any of the charites? Did she marry her late husband for his money?
Full-scale investigation, involving Saul, Fred, and Orrie, and giving bigger parts to Fred and Orrie than the usual Saul-dominated sidelines, although Saul pulls off some impressive stunts too. More human touches than some cases have: a jeweller who won't talk to Orrie has a son about Pete's age, and will talk about spider earrings for reasons other than bribery. More action and less persuasion than in most of Archie's work, including an actual brawl (very unusual for him).