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League of Frightened Men, The (Nero Wolfe #2)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,682 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
Paul Chapin's college cronies have never completely forgiven themselves for the tragic prank that left their friend a twisted cripple. Yet with their Harvard days behind them, they thought it was all in the past - until a class reunion ends in a fatal fall, and mysterious poems swearing deadly retribution begin to arrive. Now this league of frightened men seeks Nero Wolfe' ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published July 14th 2004 by AudioGO (first published August 14th 1935)
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Oct 29, 2014 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not going to retell the book's blurb as it contains too many spoilers - in my opinion. Nero Wolfe found himself without a job for quite some time - and with his money running out. Pestered by Archie Goodwin who is a man of action and cannot stand the prolonged absence of it, the great New York detective decides to take a case he rejected some time ago, only this time he chooses to involve more people as his clients: a group of people known as The League of Frightened Men thorough the book.

I love Nero Wolfe mysteries for so many reasons. The banter between Wolfe and sidekick, feet-on-the-street Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's genius and Goodwin's street smarts, the conjuring of an era (roadsters, sedans, switchboards, 1930's attire, etc.), food, orchids, snappy dialogue and the supporting characters both in the brownstone and outside.

In this one Wolfe is becoming desperate for work and takes a job against his better judgment. Fifteen middle-aged men are frightened out of their wits that a
John Yeoman
Oct 30, 2014 John Yeoman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-suspense
This is arguably the first Nero Wolfe novel and probably the best. The author Rex Stout thought so himself. Across 47 Wolfe novels and anthologies, Stout kept up a remarkable quality, especially as he never edited a word. His later novels might be accused of digression, twittering dialogue that went nowhere, and loose structure. (Robert Heinlein exhibited the same faults in his dotage.) But this is ingenious, crisp and as sharply crafted as an Aztec crystal skull.

No point in reviewing the plot.
Oct 28, 2014 Nawfal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-2, mystery, bantam
Definitely earns the praise it gets for being an involved, psychology-filled story. A lot of the details are either too obscure or intricate for me to follow. That's okay with me - I read for entertainment, trusting that detectives and cops and heroes in stories are capable and skilled. They don't need me back-checking their work. Anyway, Archie is great. Nero is great. And I have sympathy for Fritz. And Nero makes beer sound so good. Overall, a character-driven story with lots of misdirections ...more
Stout, Rex. THE LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN. (1935). **.
I’m usually an enthusiastic fan of Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries, but this one challenged my enthusiasm. The middle part of the novel was incredibly boring and drawn out. Here goes: A group of men visit Nero Wolfe’s offices and explain that they want him to take on a case of a rampant murderer and bringing him to justice. Until that was accomplished, they lived in fear of their lives. It seems that when these men – all of them Harvard graduate
Second installment in the Nero Wolfe detective series.

Thirty years ago a club of Harvard upperclassmen gathered together and inadvertently maimed an unsuspecting freshman in a hazing incident on old Harvard yard. Nothing really comes out of the incident until thirty years later when one of the club members, a guy named Judge Harrison, falls to his death at a club reunion. The following monday the club members receive a letter supposedly from the maimed member, whose name is Paul Chapin, that bas
Panu Mäkinen
Pelokkaitten miesten liitto on ahdettu täyteen henkilöhahmoja. Ilmeisesti sama ongelma koskee muitakin Rex Stoutin varhaiskauden teoksia. Oli miten oli, kirjan tapahtumien lähtökohta on kaukana menneisyydessä. Paul Chapin oli loukkaantunut vaikeasti onnettomuudessa, johon syypäänä voitiin osittain pitää hänen opiskelukavereitaan. Vuodet vierivät, mutta vammat jäävät pysyviksi.

Yhtäkkiä opiskelukavereita alkaa kuolla hämärissä olosuhteissa. Onnettomuuksia vai itsemurhia? Ihmisillä on eri käsityksi
This episode of the Nero Wolfe Mysteries find Nero and Archie investigating an apparent murder at a Harvard Reunion.

Thrity years before, the friends talk Paul Chapin (now a famous author) into doing something dangerous, it all goes wrong and Paul is left crippled.

Back in the present of the 1930's, the friends begin to die in suspicious ways followed by murder notes to the survivors. Is it Paul taking revenge or is it a set-up? Only Wolfe and Archie can uncover the truth!
I hadn't read this one since childhood, so I remembered almost none of it. In a way, I loved it. But not necessarily as a detective story. I'm not into looking for plotholes, yet I noticed two or three which took me out of the story briefly. No, what I loved was how absorbing the language and dialogue is. I think Stout tightened things up in later books, and that's good. But this early story has something later ones are missing; a love not only of language, but of thinking about language. Which ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Second in the Wolfe canon, this book is of interest to the careful reader, as it shows several changes made later. Cramer has a marginal part in the book, Fritz sleeps upstairs next to the plant rooms (later he had a basement apartment), and Wolfe voluntarily opens a window for some fresh air! Wonders never later years we are told that he equates fresh air with travel--certain death.

Archie is certainly more cynical and sarcastic in the early books than he became later, and this one is
Alípio Vieira Firmino
Mais um autor que me fascinou, boa escrita + inteligência = policial brilhante.
Quando iniciei o meu percurso enquanto leitor, não necessitei de muito tempo para concluir que os policias são o meu género de eleição. Anteriormente, num post aqui publicado sobre o livro "Tempo de Espionagem" de Agatha Christie", falei sobre uma das escritoras de policiais mais conhecidas e conceituadas, e após finalizar esta leitura creio ter encontrado um autor com a capacidade de lhe fazer frente. Rex Stout é por
Oct 10, 2015 thefourthvine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, reread
Oh man. This is the second book in the series, and compared to the first, it's definitely more of what I think of as a typical Nero Wolfe book, but it is not all that fun to read. We are still deep in overt, awful racism territory, plus some deeply gross ableism that included (among many other things) the idea that physical disabilities lead to psychopathy AND an derogatory epithet I've never heard outside this book. Just, wow.

This reread is REALLY driving home to me how much beginning at the be
Jamie Collins
Oct 14, 2012 Jamie Collins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was even better than the first book. I continue to enjoy the banter between Wolfe and Archie, and the mystery was pretty interesting.

The story is set in New York City in 1935. A man who was crippled many years ago during a hazing incident at Harvard is suspected of taking his revenge on the group of men who participated - despite the fact that they have formed a “League of Atonement” and provided their victim with financial and emotional support over the years.

I was struck by the viciousnes
Dec 08, 2015 meeners rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
for the past 5 years or so i've been haphazardly making my way through the nero wolfe canon, entirely out of order, based on library availability and readerly mood at the time. mostly it hasn't mattered, as each book has more-or-less the same familiar beats and rhythms, including inevitable descriptions of . . .

+ wolfe's orchids, and the rigid schedule wolfe keeps in order to maintain them
+ archie and wolfe eating an elaborate meal cooked by a demure fritz, usually featuring at least one ingred
The League of Frightened Gentlemen (1935) is the second of Rex Stout's books featuring the detective duo of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Stout's team--made up of the gargantuan genius Wolfe and his street smart legman Goodwin--always provide good entertainment even early in the series.

Here we have a group of frightened men who are certain that their college friend, Paul Chapin, is set on a path of revenge for a crippling injury he suffered at their hands during a hazing incident. Two of their
Jun 16, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working my way through Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe's series - they are just fun reads in the genre of Dashiell Hammett.
Sep 09, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all mystery fans
Recommended to Elizabeth by: the Ol' Curmudgeon
Well, this is #2 in the Nero Wolfe Canon, and I've read it. It is a really good book, and I can just picture Timothy Hutton and Maury Chakin playing this - it would have been great! A&E really did something stupid when they canceled the Nero Wolfe series. It's a fun book with a complicated plot involving a group of men frightened by a potential death threat. Unraveling the threat and exposing the person threatening them is a task only Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin can do.
May 17, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
As much as I adore Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, The League of Frightened Men struck a sour note in what's an otherwise delightful series. There are too many pieces on this particular chessboard - reducing the League's members by a third would have simplified the narrative without sacrificing any drama - arranged in problem that's not particularly difficult to penetrate...which makes it all the more frustrating that Wolfe takes his own sweet time bothering to solve it. As a result most the stor ...more
While certainly better than Fer-De-Lance, I haven't really fallen into the Nero Wolfe cult just yet with this one.

THE BEGINNING--I like the fact that Wolfe seems to be in a dry period business-wise, and that there's always a firm eye on where the penny drops. Too many mystery novels have main characters that are vaguely independently wealthy and just doing this sort of thing for a lark. As for the mystery, there's actually quite a bit of tension here. The first scene where all the men are gathe
Feb 08, 2015 Readdonkey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the late 80s, my father had brought home a paperback edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, which within a short span of time I had grown very fond of. A catalogue of then popular detective fiction was printed on the book's flyleaf. Most of the authors were unheard of in our part of the world, but I found the list fascinating and used to go through the list once in a while. I had naively assumed that these were also as brilliantly written (and plotted) as Sherlock Holmes, but had to resign ...more
Jul 11, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second in the Nero Wolfe series, and typically good. Archie Goodwin is still basically a tough guy (later he will become much smarter), and Wolfe even repeatedly makes fun of his inability to keep up with the subtleties of what's going on. I like the later books somewhat better, after Archie becomes more of an equal partner.
Dec 15, 2015 Dipanjan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The League Of The Frightened Men" is the second case of the "armchair detective" Nero Wolfe and his Confidential Assistant, Archie Goodwin. (The 1st case being "Fer-De-Lance"). A fine example of American Literature in the Mystery Genre, this book continue the pave the path for Rex Stout's long running Nero Wolfe Mystery Series. Written way back in 1930s, it gives the reader a glimpse of 'life back then' along with the usual thrills of an abstract mystery.

Having said that, I found this book to
Katharine Ott
Jun 01, 2016 Katharine Ott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
"The League of Frightened Men" - written by Rex Stout and first published in 1935 by Farrar & Rinehart. It was a pleasure to return to the narrowly defined world of Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, and their assorted partners in crime-solving. The actual crime sits backstage to the familiar, carefully detailed methods of hunting down and trapping the perpetrators. Inspector Cramer actually knows the answer to his question, "Hell, can't Wolfe take the short end once in his life?" This is the secon ...more
Jeff Miller
Apr 04, 2015 Jeff Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now I already loved what I read of the Nero Wolfe series, but so far this breaks away as my favorite. The dialog is so brilliant and the banter between Archie and Nero Wolfe is hilarious in its intellectual subtlety. I read recently on reviewer of the books mentioning that it is not the mysteries that bring you back since other authors do this better. It is the writing and the dialog and really the whole situation of the characters that keeps brining you back.

I wonder what it is about the flawed
Jul 05, 2009 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a 1968 edition complete with the colorfully offensive slang of the 30's when this was originally published. Maybe it was because of that,or maybe because it was so early in Stout's career, but this one seemed harsher.
Nov 30, 2015 astaliegurec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The League of Frightened Men" is the 2nd in Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe" series (originally published in 1935). Even though the Nero Wolfe series is supposed to be stateless (i.e., no book really depends on anything that happened in any earlier book), I did notice a bit of difference between this book and the others I've been reading: Nero Wolfe is even more erudite than he normally is, though he seems more aloof. Of course, I'm reading this book way out of order (I had previously finished book 17 ...more
Apr 27, 2016 Bayneeta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Huge cast of characters; too many for me to keep straight. Archie and Wolfe are worth it.

Archie to Wolfe: "He won't come in...but I was thinking of suggesting that you go out and look at him."
"Out?" Wolfe raised his head at me. "Out and down the stoop?"
"Yeah, just on the sidewalk, you wouldn't have to step off the curb. He's right there."
Wolfe shut his eyes. "I don't know, Archie. I don't know why you persist in trying to badger me into frantic sorties. Dismiss the notion entirely. It is not
Jun 05, 2007 Jest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
The first Nero Wolfe mystery I ever read and still my favorite. The Drugged!Archie part makes me squee so much you can probably hear it at the South Pole.
Dec 29, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#2 in the Nero Wolfe series. This 1935 entry is deservedly one of author Stout's most famous and has characters that are cited in future entries. Above average entry.

Nero Wolfe is hired by the League for Atonement to protect them from author Paul Chapin. A hazing incident at Harvard left Chapin a cripple. Now the "accidental" death of a member has been followed by a poem seeming to claim credit for the death and threatening more. The "suicide" of another member and a third member's disappearance
Bob Mackey
Dec 23, 2014 Bob Mackey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having never read any Stout before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but 300 pages later, I'm primed to dive into another Nero Wolfe mystery. I've read my share of stories featuring so-called gentlemen detectives, but Wolfe definitely stands out above the rest thanks to his unique construction. Mystery protagonists tend to be lovable eccentrics, but I haven't really encountered anything like Stout's creation before: Nero Wolfe is a 400-pound amateur sleuth who loves eating (obviously), tendin ...more
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Rex Todhunter Stout (December 1, 1886 – October 27, 1975) was an American crime writer, best known as the creator of the larger-than-life fictional detective Nero Wolfe, described by reviewer Will Cuppy as "that Falstaff of detectives." Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin recorded the cases of the detective genius from 1934 (Fer-de-Lance) to 1975 (A Family Affair).

The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated
More about Rex Stout...

Other Books in the Series

Nero Wolfe (1 - 10 of 47 books)
  • Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1)
  • The Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe, #3)
  • The Red Box (Nero Wolfe, #4)
  • Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5)
  • Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6)
  • Over My Dead Body (Nero Wolfe, #7)
  • Where There's a Will (Nero Wolfe, #8)
  • Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe, #9)
  • Not Quite Dead Enough (Nero Wolfe, #10)
  • The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe, #11)

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“Wolfe was drinking beer and looking at pictures of snowflakes in a book someone had sent him from Czechoslovakia...
...Wolfe seemed absorbed in the pictures. Looking at him, I said to myself, "He's in a battle with the elements. He's fighting his way through a raging blizzard, just sitting there comfortably looking at pictures of snowflakes. That's the advantage of being an artist, of having imagination." I said aloud, "You mustn't go to sleep, sir, it's fatal. You freeze to death.”
“A man may debar nonsense from his library of reason, but not from the arena of his impulses.” 17 likes
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