Please Pass the Guilt

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Please Pass the Guilt
Author Rex Stout
Cover artist Abner Graboff
Country United States
Language English
Series Nero Wolfe
Genre Detective fiction
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
September 1973
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 150 pp. (first edition)
ISBN 0-670-55994-6
OCLC 729130
LC Class PZ3.S8894 Pj PS3537.T733
Preceded by Death of a Dude
Followed by A Family Affair

Please Pass the Guilt is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1973. Unusually for a Nero Wolfe story, which mostly take place very near the time of publication, this novel is set in 1969, though it was originally published in 1973.

Plot introduction[edit]

Wolfe picked up the check and held it out. "Take it. You have wasted your time and mine. You want a miracle, and miracles are not in my repertory. Give me the receipt."
"My god," she said, "you are highhanded. What can they tell you?"
"I don't know, and I need to know. If there is a fact that will help me to do what you want done, I want it. If you think that I may inadvertently disclose what you have told me, even a hint of it, if you think me capable of such ineptitude, you were a ninny to come to me at all."

— Nero Wolfe with client Madeline Odell, chapter 5

As a favor to Dr. Edwin Vollmer, Wolfe agrees to find information about a case from Vollmer's friend's crisis intervention center. A man with the alias "Ronald Seaver" has attended the clinic, given no information, but spoken of having blood on his hands no one can see. Through trickery, Wolfe and Goodwin learn that this man is actually Kenneth Meer, an employee at the CAN broadcast network. An executive at the network, Peter Odell, has been killed in a bomb attack. Odell's widow believes that one of his rivals murdered him, and hires Wolfe to find proof.

Publication history[edit]

In his limited-edition pamphlet, Collecting Mystery Fiction #10, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part II, Otto Penzler describes the first edition of Please Pass the Guilt: "Black boards, red cloth spine; front and rear covers blank; spine stamped with gold. Issued in a mainly black and brown pictorial dust wrapper."[2]
In April 2006, Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine estimated that the first edition of Please Pass the Guilt had a value of between $60 and $100. The estimate is for a copy in very good to fine condition in a like dustjacket.[3]
  • 1973, New York: Viking (Mystery Guild), November 1973, hardcover
The far less valuable Viking book club edition may be distinguished from the first edition in three ways:
  • The dust jacket has "Book Club Edition" printed on the inside front flap, and the price is absent (first editions may be price clipped if they were given as gifts).
  • Book club editions are sometimes thinner and always taller (usually a quarter of an inch) than first editions.
  • Book club editions are bound in cardboard, and first editions are bound in cloth (or have at least a cloth spine).[4]


  1. ^ Townsend, Guy M., Rex Stout: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography (1980, New York: Garland Publishing; ISBN 0-8240-9479-4), pp. 43–44. John McAleer, Judson Sapp and Arriean Schemer are associate editors of this definitive publication history.
  2. ^ Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #10, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part II (2001, New York: The Mysterious Bookshop, limited edition of 250 copies), p. 24
  3. ^ Smiley, Robin H., "Rex Stout: A Checklist of Primary First Editions." Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine (Volume 16, Number 4), April 2006, p. 35
  4. ^ Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I, pp. 19–20

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Please Pass the Guilt at Wikiquote