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The Red Box (Nero Wolfe #4)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,827 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
A lovely woman is dead, and the fortunes of overextended theatrical producer Llewellyn Frost depend on solving the mystery of the red box: two pounds of candied fruits, nuts and creams, covered with chocolate -- and laced with potassium cyanide.When Nero Wolfe's suspicion falls on Frost's kissing cousin, Frost wants the detective to kill the sickly sweet case--before it ki ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 20th 2011 by Crimeline (first published April 15th 1937)
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Sep 26, 2014 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth.”

It has been a while since Nero Wolfe had a case which made frustrating times for Archie Goodwin. So when a potential client shows up Archie develops a devious plan not only to get Nero Wolfe take the case, but also to lure him outside to the shop where a crime was committed. Readers familiar with the series know that the great detective almost never leaves his home except in case of
Jul 29, 2015 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The start of another beautiful relationship

The Red Box was the fourth of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe murder mysteries. It was published in 1937. It is also the first Nero Wolfe book I have ever read...and what an enjoyable introduction it was too.

I loved the irascible, inscrutable, quirky, larger-than-life Wolfe.

Wolfe's exploits are narrated by his able assistant Archie, himself a perfect foil for Wolfe: world weary, hard bitten, cynical and slyly humorous.

Overall it's a curious and pleasing hybrid
Oct 21, 2015 thefourthvine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, reread
This is the first real Nero Wolfe I've read in the chronological-with-gaps reread. Archie's character is solidly in place, the mystery is a more typical one, and Stout is solidly in his wheelhouse here.

The plot is pretty simple: a model is poisoned, and a dude with White Knight Syndrome and a repressed to desire to marry his rich first cousin hires Wolfe. Wolfe actually leaves the brownstone in this one, always a notable occurrence, and Archie gets cut out of the information loop, a much less n
I am a fan of Nero Wolfe. However, I am finding the earlier books by Rex Stout very unrealistic and I can't escape into Archie and Wolfe's world in pure enjoyment. This book was very easy to read, but the ending was unbelievable. The methods of killing people was improbable and coincidences abounded. (view spoiler)

I did appreciate a younger and less experienced
Jamie Collins
Oct 28, 2014 Jamie Collins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Another enjoyable Nero Wolfe book. The mystery is fairly predictable, but the contemporary setting of 1938 New York is interesting, while both Wolfe’s surliness and Archie’s contrasting banter are great fun.

This book is supposedly notable because Wolfe is persuaded to leave his house (a rare event) to pursue the mystery, but I was a little disappointed. The visit did not seem very meaningful, hence the extraordinary (and hilarious) measures taken were wasted.

Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

A young girl dies of quick-acting poison hidden in a box of candy meant for someone else. But who? And why? As she purloined the box and died before anyone knew where it came from, Cramer is well and truly up a stump, and actually comes to seek advice from Wolfe.

Wolfe and Archie are that wonderful thing, a detective duo that worked steadily from 1934 to the mid 1970s and only aged a year or two--or at least Archie did, going from mid twenties to mid thirties over 40 years. Mr Wolfe, like a fine
Susan Ferguson
Oct 31, 2014 Susan Ferguson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2014
I love the old mysteries. The picture I have of Nero Wolfe is of the television series years back. But, that doesn't matter to the pictures carried in the books of Wolfe's mannerisms and habits. I also enjoy Archie's asides and smart aleck remarks to everyone.
This case is about a murder that Llewellyn Frost is afraid involves his cousin, Helen, and insists that Wolfe solve it. Lew doesn't like Helen working for her godfather. When one of the models dies from poisoned candy, he feels Helen is in
The Red Box starts out with a trick. Nero Wolfe is manipulated into leaving the comforts of his brownstone when Llewellyn Frost presents him with a letter from several of his esteemed colleagues in the orchid-growing world imploring the detective to leave his office, leave his faithful staff, leave his orchid-filled greenhouse and travel twenty blocks (eight minutes) to the office of Boyden McNair Incorporated to investigate the poisoning of a beautiful young model. Frost had tried to get Wolfe ...more
Oct 06, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe books are ideal genre entertainment. You know you'll get the corpulent, compulsive Wolfe casting withering remarks at clients, suspects and cops alike as he solves the case between compulsory breaks for fine dining, cold beer, and tending his beloved orchids. You know you'll get the crackerjack patter and cynical armchair psychology of legman/narrator Archie Goodwin. And you know you'll get at least one corpse and an assortment of associates and acquaintances with varying degrees of d ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Bert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
READATHON! This was my first Nero Wolfe, and though it got a bit sludgy at times, it had plenty charm and sass to enjoy it. Plus, i have a soft spot for cyanide poisoning. Nero is defo my new fave pretentious obese detective, and although he ventures outside once in this novel i hear that's a bit of a one-off, and the fact that he solves crimes behind his desk, whilst tending to his orchids and drinking cold beer, means he rules. Though Archie is really the star of the show here, what a dude.
Apr 20, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE RED BOX. (1937). Rex Stout. ***1/2.
The red box of the title is the ultimate red herring, but we find ourselves chasing after it along with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin to presumably solve the mysteries of the murders of members of the Frost family. The murders – there were three of them – were all accomplished through the use of hydrocyanic acid. The first one, simply enough, was done through the use of an infused piece of candy in a sampler. The piece itself that did its deed was a Jordan
Todd Speaks
Nov 10, 2014 Todd Speaks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Archie Goodwin has always made the Nero Wolfe series. He is both the protagonist and in most cases the balance that Nero Wolfe requires in his colleague. If you haven't read the series, by balance I mean Goodwin is often used to push the PI Wolfe into action.

In this story, Wolfe makes several firsts. It is the first book in which he leaves the confines of his 35th street Brownstone in NYC and it is also the first time in which a murder is committed in his office.

Wolfe is an obsessive compulsive
Sep 29, 2015 astaliegurec rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Red Box" is the fourth book in Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe" series. It was first published in 1937, so it describes a world very different from today. But, what can I say? The book follows Stout's standard of excellent plot, tongue-in-cheek humor, wonderful use of the language, and an interesting, head-scratcher of a mystery. I rate it at an Excellent 5 stars out of 5.
Jen Mays
The larger-than-life detective Nero Wolfe, huge in body and mind, takes on a murder case rather reluctantly when a young man essentially refuses to leave his office until Wolfe agrees to help. A young model has been poisoned by a box of chocolates and the young man fears that his comely cousin might be a future target. Wolfe and his assistant, Artie Goodwin, are drawn into a slippery case in which many people have opportunity, and others motive, but bringing the two together seems problematic, a ...more
Nothing says murder like a box of poisoned candy! A young model dies of poisoning found in a piece of candy from a box she purloined from an unknown source. An impetuous young man hires Nero Wolfe to discover to the murderer and convince his cousin, another model, to leave the well-known women's dress shop. The young man convinces Wolfe to go to the place to interview people. This unheard of event reveals lies from the cousin and the hot-headed client attempts to fire Wolfe but does not have the ...more
Bob Mackey
I've been tearing through the Nero Wolfe series in chronological order over the past few months, and this is the first one to leave me feeling a bit disappointed by the end. Sure, all of the regular trappings are here, but this time, it feels like Stout doesn't really know what to do with the mystery at hand. So, Archie and Nero spend about 90% of the proceedings absolutely stumped, before Wolfe suddenly stumbles upon the truth just in time to close out the book.

As always, it's a delight to fol
Mar 15, 2011 JZ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, own
This is one that I wish Timothy Hutton and Maury Chakin had made into a screenplay for A&E. This is one of my favorites, for the language, plot, and the scene at the end, yes, but really for the sense of the times in New York.
Why? Why would anyone poison a chocolate box? Isn't that food too yummy to be messed with? But that's how "the Red Box" starts out. But was the murdered girl the intended victim? Wolfe soon decides "no" as a cast of revolving clients begins coming through the door. The first is Llewellyn Frost, a producer who comes from money but has overextended himself. He wants to protect his cousin (a girl he LURVS) who was also in the playhouse when the girl died. But his father and the cousin's mother have ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having finished all known Agatha Christie novels, Brandon and I decided to try out a Rex Stout. I really enjoyed it! Nero Wolfe and Archie seem to mimic Poirot and Hastings. Both pairs are enjoyable, but for whatever reason (maybe a personal bias!), I like Poirot and Hastings better. I think Christie and Stout were contemporaries, though she wrote in England while he is an American writer. So I don't think either one was copying the other, but it is interesting all the similarities between the t ...more
I've read about six Nero Wolfe novels so far and I'd put this in the middle of the pack. On the plus side, Archie is in fine form and his sardonic humor and banter with Nero was a delight. Some of the lines had me laughing out loud. OTOH, the novel starts out slow and takes a long time to get moving. And the clients/suspects are either boring or obnoxious.

And unlike "The Black Mountain" which had too much action, "The Red Box" suffers from being too wordy with Archie sitting around and yakking
Jan 14, 2015 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this fourth book in the Nero Wolfe series, a young woman dies after eating a chocolate laced with potassium cyanide from a box that had been openly left on a desk. Surprisingly, Nero Wolfe is forced to leave his beloved brownstone and venture out into the streets of 1938 New York in order to gather the information that he needs to unravel the case. As usual, a good mystery takes a back seat to the verbal interactions among the main characters, particularly Nero Wolfe and his Assistant Archie ...more
The Red Box by Rex Stout.

The red box given to a model contained chocolate candies with poison in them. That model dies but why and by whom? Nero is called into the case with Archie doing all the leg work on the outside. This is no easily solved murder. This case is a tangled web of lies going back more than 20 years.

Then the unthinkable happened and one of the participants is murdered in Nero's office. This puts Nero in a situation he has never experienced before and he throws himself head long
Steven Cady
You can see why Nero Wolf is a character who stands the test of time. This 1936 novel could work fine today, except maybe for poison being the method of murder. Nero Wolf is a major eccentric but so sure of himself that he appeals to American individualism and also reflects the isolated intellect of Sherlock Holmes. Archie Goodwin as his Watson keeps the action moving with slangy asides and observations. The murderer is not unexpected and the motivation is fairly clear early on, but the book mov ...more
May 06, 2013 Vicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nero Wolfe is a detective that is such a genius that he solves most of the crimes his clients bring to him without ever leaving his office. He is an outside the box thinker kind of like Perry Mason, except Perry has to leave the office every once in awhile. Nero's confidential assistant Archie Goodwin does the traveling for him, enabling Nero to give his prize orchids the attention they require, and at the same time never miss a meal prepared by his in-house chef.

Archie is also the narrator of
Adam Graham
The Red Box was the fourth of the Nero Wolfe novels and begins somewhat abruptly in the middle of the initial interview with Wolfe’s client. With a desperate need for a client, Archie connives with a potential client to get Wolfe to leave his house to travel down to a fashion firm several blocks away to interview witnesses in the poisoning death of a model who ate a candy from a box of chocolate and diet. The client presents Wolfe with a letter from fellow orchid growers citing his participation ...more
May 02, 2010 Mmyoung rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Although I can see its faults I have a real fondness for this book. I think that that is due, at least partially, to the fact that this was the first Stout/Wolfe I read in which I could so clearly see that the zeitgeist of this American not-hard-boiled was in fact very close to that of the American hard-boiled. Yes, it is way cleaner with few intimations of sex yet at the same time they take place in the same world. The rich get away with it while the poor do not. The police are at the very leas ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A client actually gets Nero Wolfe to remove his considerable bulk from his West 35th Street brownstone in his fourth tale, "The Red Box." Of course, it takes deception, Archie Goodwin's assistance and an orchid connection to pull it off, but still.

This mystery kicks off with death by chocolate in the high fashion industry. A woman, apparently not the murderer's target, selects a morsel from a box of chocolates and, well, bites it. From there we have a series of related clients (Goodwin complain
Mark Shannon
The fourth entry in the Nero Wolfe series is a bit longer than the previous volumes. It's very wordy but Rex Stout was a lover of language. When a model eats a piece of poisoned candy, Wolfe actually leaves the brownstone to conduct an investigation. Soon enough though he is back to grilling suspects and delegating others to pursue leads in the way he's made his own. It was a good story.

I identified the murderer but little else in this mystery. I'll keep reading the series.
Apr 06, 2014 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clever
Though not quite in "full Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin form" yet, I'm still enamored of Rex Stout's writing and will forgive the not-yet-polished formula of this, his 4th book in the Nero Wolfe series.
You still get Wolfe's precise language and intricate thought process, but Archie isn't nearly as quippy as he later becomes and obviously there hasn't been a chance yet for Stout to flesh-out what becomes a rich, layered, and familiar universe.
Dec 29, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#4 in the Nero Wolfe series. An enjoyable entry from 1937.

Nero Wolfe is hired by Lew Frost to look into the poisoning death of a model who worked with his cousin, Helen. He quickly discovers her death was accidental and the intended victim was her employer, Boyd McNair. Lew fires Wolfe and Helen hires him to unravel the layers of family related intrigue and find out who killed McNair, whose will left a missing red box to Wolfe.

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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 League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2)
  • The Rubber Band (Nero Wolfe, #3)
  • 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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“Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth.” 37 likes
“As I understand it, a born executive is a guy who, when anything difficult or unexpected happens, yells for somebody to come and help him.” 9 likes
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