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The Red Box (Nero Wolfe #4)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,280 ratings  ·  86 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 1936)
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Evgeny
“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
...more
Jamie
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
...more
Susan Ferguson
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
...more
Todd Speaks
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
...more
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
Jz
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.
Heather
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
Judy
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
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
Vicki
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
...more
Jim
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
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
Mmyoung
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
Tim
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
...more
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.
Roger
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.
Ed
#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.

Tim Healy
I enjoyed reading The Rubber Band, so when the opportunity came up, I grabbed this one, too. These are fun in a completely escapist vein. This one stands up better than the last, as it's not so dated. There are no mentions of the characters having been alive prior to 1900, and the dated material is less notable. Also, much of the plot could have been transplanted forward even to modern day and still have been plausible. This is good fun.
Hudson Murrell
Great stuff, as usual. Great deductions, good word usage. Love the dialogue between Wolfe and Archie. Classic stuff. May just read another. This one was an early one--'37. Lots of people (Cramer, Archie) smoking! Still PC back then. Now? A policeman that smokes in civilians' houses? Never.
Tiina
This was one of the Wolfe mysteries that I'd not read before, or so it seemed. A rare find and I was thrilled! The translation flowed nicely but it must read even better in English. Nero Wolfe is a genius and his creator must also have been one.

Highly recommended!
Elizabeth
It's been many years since the days when I read Nero Wolfe's books like I couldn't get enough of them. Decided to go back & re-read some of my favorites. Now I remember why I liked them so much. Archie Goodwin & his wise-cracking attitude!
Mkb
Reading these ones from the beginning of the series is fun. Rex Stout hasn't completely worked out that "rules" for all of the characters. Cramer is smoking cigars instead of just chewing on them--an avid Wolfe reader is shocked by this! :) I also love comparing the prices of things in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and later. Stout often includes them because it seems he was a numbers kind of guy (setting up a school banking system, and all that talk about tax brackets in the various novels), and I don't ...more
Kunal
Nero Wolfe leaves his brownstone to solve a case. What horrors will they think of next. Archie Goodwin is as obtuse as ever and finally, the murder is solved with the discovery of what else but... the red box. A satisfying mystery!


On and by the way, this book is interesting for its description of prices in 1937. Someone could construct an inflation index from his!
Kelly
Archie at his best. He gets a good looking girl. His gofers are astounded by his nerve. He gets some good quips at Nero Wolfe and Inspector Cramer. Too bad it doesn't end well. I guessed the killer, but not the reason.
Sun
When was the last time you read a novel published in 1937? As it happens, I read one just yesterday, also a Rex Stout. It's amazing to think that the writing and in particular the humourous banter is still as gleeful as ever.

In 'The Rex Box', a model dies after eating a candied almond and Wolfe is gulled into venturing out of the brownstone to investigate. Notably, Archie Goodwin still smoked, Inspector Cramer lights several cigars despite Archie's claims that he'd never seen Cramer light one,
...more
Brandon Byrd
More like 3.5 stars, but I'll round up because it was fun to find a good detective fiction by a contemporary of Agatha Christie.
Ari
I had great expectations as this book is included in the list of 500 books you must read before you die.

Ok. This was not bad. Not at all. But a definite "must read book"... hardly. Or perhaps I did not get it properly.

The plot was not extremely complicated, the solution was easier than with Hercule Poirot or Mrs. Marple in general. This was neither hilariously funny nor extremely thrilling. Nero Wolfe is eccentric by default but so are many great thinkers in fiction (e.g. Sherlock Holmes and He
...more
Katie
this was a good one although I did see at least one thing coming. i got it on audiobook because michael prichard was specifically recommended as a good reader but he wasn't my style. kind of booming and bombastic but also with a flat delivery. i have a theory that british readers do more acting and american readers are just reading.
Sarah
Beginning in medias res, with one beautiful woman already dead and the police utterly baffled, this mystery has Wolfe particularly cranky because he not only is bullied into venturing twenty blocks away from his beloved brownstone, but also suffers the indignity of having a man murdered in his office. Nevertheless he perseveres, using his usual mixture of logic and theatrics to reveal why so many people close to a stunningly gorgeous heiress keep dropping dead. Full of bon mots, police brutality ...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
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)
Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1) Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5) Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6) The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2) Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe, #9)

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