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The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe #11)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,718 ratings  ·  70 reviews
When a powerful government official,scheduled to speak to a group of millionaires, turns up dead, it is an event worthy of the notice of the great Nero Wolfe. Balancing on the edge of financial ruin, the orchid-loving detective grudgingly accepts the case. Soon a second victim is found bludgeoned to death, a missing stenographer's tape causes an uproar, and the dead man sp ...more
Paperback, 271 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Crimeline (first published 1946)
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Archie Goodwin literally forces Nero Wolfe to take a case as the bank account of famous detective is practically empty (so, what else is new?). What is the most suitable case? The most talked-about at the moment, of cause. A government official (he worked for BPR: Bureau of Price Regulation) was killed just before he was about to give a speech in front of a millionaire group (they are members of NIA: National Industrial Association). By using some very unconventional methods Nero Wolfe makes NIA ...more
Bill  Kerwin

A very good Nero Wolfe, involving WW II era price controls, bureaucratic double-dealing and cutting edge technology--the dictaphone cylinder, that is.
Classic Rex Stout. The dialogue is scintillating and in this one Archie may have met his female match. Part of its charm today is the anachronistic flavor with 3-cent stamps, dime phone calls from real phone booths and the battle between wartime price regulators and industry shills. Some of the dialogue is LOL funny. If you haven’t read any Nero Wolfe I urge you to do so. For audiobook fans, my favorite reader is Michael Pritchard who perfectly captures Archie’s sardonic wit.
This was my first Nero Wolfe book. For some reason, I'd always thought Rex Stout was pure trash--a case of judging a book by its cover, I guess. I probably never would have read a Nero Wolfe mystery if BYT hadn't set up a Wolfe hot read.

I'm so glad I finally gave Stout a try. Within the first couple of pages I was enjoying myself greatly. How can you go wrong with comments like these....
"I tossed and turned for a full thirty seconds before sleep came." "There were a dozen letters to be typed and
One of the best Nero Wolfe mysteries I've read. A thoroughly enjoyable page-turner.

Like The Doorbell Rang, in which Wolfe tangles with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, this book has political undercurrents of the day. It was published just after World War II, and key plot elements reflect the lingering effects of the war: housing shortages and restrictions on consumer goods, including government regulation of prices, featuring the conflict between a federal price regulatory body and a national busin
Nan Silvernail
The National Industrial Association (NIA) and the Bureau of Price Regulation (BPR) hate each other to a man. But when the director of the BPR is asked to make a speech at and is murdered backstage at a NIA dinner things might have gone too far. A missing Stenophone cylinder may crack the case but the case it is supposed to be in doesn't have it. It's button, button, whose got the button in a case costing enough money in man power to drive Archie frantic. Maybe this time the wit of a clever secre ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Ward
Apr 25, 2015 Richard Ward rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of the series.
Nero Wolfe reads in the paper that a government bureaucrat has been murdered, clobbered over the head by a monkey wrench while preparing to give a speech to a hostile crowd. Because the killer has not been determined, Wolfe and Archie set out to solve the case - for a fee, of course. Next thing you know, one of the suspects is clobbered to death just outside the backdoor of Wolfe's brownstone. Meanwhile, Inspector Cramer has been temporarily relieved of his duties, and his replacement tries to p ...more
"The Silent Speaker" is a mystery set in 1946 in New York. The narrator, Archie Goodwin, always has a humorous view of events which makes the mystery fun to read. This is a clue-based puzzle mystery, and not only are you guessing whodunit but also where the critical cylinder has been hidden. Using clues, I narrowed the suspects down to two. Technically, you could guess whodunit, but Nero Wolfe keeps back the critical clue which makes whodunit obvious. The humor and the fun of trying to guess mad ...more
A 1940's mystery series, Nero Wolfe is an eccentric detective, more fond of his orchids than work. The story is told by his irreverent assistant, Archie. Without any visible fortune or regular work, Wolfe lives in a Manhattan brownstone with a staff and a lifestyle any of us would covet. The books are set in then contemporary New York and it is interesting to read about customs and language that were normal at that time. It is a well crafted who-done-it, with enough clues laid out during the sto ...more
"The Silent Speaker" is the 11th book in Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe" series. It was first published in 1946 and is the first of the post World War II books. On the assumption you've read the first 10 books in the series, you know exactly what to expect here: great writing, wonderful language, tongue-in-cheek humor, and a good story. Because I find one of the murders in this book to be particularly nasty, I'd actually like to reduce my rating by a half star. But, since I can't, I'll leave my rating ...more
It's been interesting rereading some very old Nero Wolfe mysteries. Inspector Cramer has been lighting his cigar, and in the earliest books the red leather chair is not present in the office. This post-war episode has Wolfe, short of money, agreeing to investigate the death of a federal bureaucrat at the annual dinner of the National Industrial Association. The government and the NIA are at daggers drawn, and the NIA desperately needs some good publicity. When there's a second murder, at Wolfe's ...more
Christopher Rush
This is likely among the top five best Nero Wolfe adventures, though I admit I have only read about 12% of them and seen perhaps another 10%. It is a little overlong, perhaps, and a few times it does feel like it's about to wander away, but it is by no means as discursive as some of the earliest adventures. It is also probable the main reason I like this story so much is because of the excellent Hutton/Chaykin version from too long ago. It was impossible not to envision them while reading this ( ...more
Seemed like Stout was looking for ways to stretch a good story

Originally published in 1946, The Silent Speaker is the 13th Nero Wolfe story or the 11th Nero Wolfe book written by Rex Stout (1886-1975) depending on how you want to do the counting. The story features the over-sized and very particular detective Nero Wolfe and his right hand man Archie Goodwin.

If you are not familiar with Nero Wolfe, let me introduce you. Nero Wolfe is an obese genius who solves mysteries but rarely leaves his Ne
Adam Graham
I hadn't planned on getting into Nero Wolfe novels that had been adapted to TV until after finishing the novels that weren't adapted (except for A Family Affair) and the novella collections. However, the Silent Speaker was included in the library edition of Black Orchids, so I thought to go ahead and enjoy the bonus.

The Silent Speaker starts is set in the aftermath of the World War II. The head of the federal Bureau of Price Regulation was bludgeoned to death just before he was scheduled to addr
THE SILENT SPEAKER. (1945). Rex Stout. ***.
Nero Wolfe and his personal assistant, Archie Goodwin, have to deal with a mysterious murder. When a speaker from a government bureau in charge of pricing policies is scheduled to give a speech to a gathering of wealthy members of a national industrial organization, he is found dead in his suite in the headquarters hotel. He had been bludgeoned to death with a monkey wrench. With about 1,500 members of the industrial group in attendance, there is no lac
Nancy Butts
Book 11, and in this one set in the immediate post-war period, Nero Wolfe represents an industrial association that is at odds with a government bureau–and Nero pretends to be insane to avoid getting arrested a second time as a material witness.

Stout's prose style seemed markedly different to me in this book; almost as if someone else had written it for him. The characterizations of both Archie and Nero seemed less nuanced to me, and neither one of them was as likeable as I normally find them t
Another enjoyable read.

This book was written in 1946 and reflects the then current situation. It's interesting to see a little bit of history along with the mystery. I especially enjoyed reading about Wolfe's being forced to leave home and confronting obnoxious bureaucrats. So nice to sit down with a good detective novel that doesn't insert superfluous nastiness.
This is one of those books where I wanted a dramatis personae or other cheat-sheet to keep track of the characters. There are quite a lot on the list of suspects, allies and investigators. But once the sides shake out it isn't so hard to keep track, and having Archie joke about Capulets and Montagues helps with that part. A good mystery over all, as expected.
The feud between the Bureau of Price Regulation and the National Industrial Association has been long and bitter, but few thought it would end in murder. At a large public dinner, however, that's just what happened. Nero Wolfe takes the NIA as a client and agrees to find out who murdered BPR president Cheney Boone. With Archie Goodwin providing the legwork and goading his boss into action, the case moves along until a second murder changes everything.

I have enjoyed Nero Wolfe mysteries for a lon
Shirley Worley
A Nero Wolfe mystery set in the 1940s. The plot entails a murder that pits two political groups against each other. Archie again falls for the feminine wiles of a suspect, who is later murdered. Even without a client, Nero solves the case in the interest of justice.
The Silent Speaker (1946)

Rex Stout really is a great writer and story teller, and not just a great mystery writer either. This mystery begins after the investigation begins, which is a little different for many mystery writers. A speaker from the Bureau of Public Research is murdered at a conference held by the National Industrial Association, and the whole plot is keyed by the rivalry/hatred of the two groups for each other. There are a lot of suspects, and certainly Stout plays fair in that
Not the strongest of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries. The alphabet soup nature of the two competing groups was confusing out of the post-war context the book was written in but Archie Goodwin saves the day yet again with his bemused narration.
Rex Stout's real-life activities in patriotic groups during the war years seem to seep over into this story. The inter-workings and alliances of an industrial association and a government department and the loyalties of staff in each group serve as the focus of Nero Wolfe's attention and Archie's activity.
This mystery started off a little rushed which made the subsequent action/motives/characters harder to follow. But the story was still compelling and seeing Wolfe and Ash butt heads was enjoyable.
Nero Wolfe mysteries are always fun to read. I don't spend too much effort trying to figure out whodunit, I just go along for a pleasant ride. After spend all day reading complex technical documents, it's a nice change of pace to read something fun.

I have not read that many of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries. This one, from 1946, is actually the one I have enjoyed most so far. Wolfe is more of a Mycroft then a Sherlock -- he does not like to leave his office/house much, leaving it to his staff to do the running around. Like Sherlock & his brother though, Wolfe's mystery solving is based on his mental powers rather than his ability to run down the bad guys. If you haven't read him (or many 1930s-50s mysteries), this can be a bit odd at ...more
Sharon Eudy Neufeld
Set in the aftermath of WWII when the government was micromanaging the country, "The Silent Speaker" has at its heart the friction between government regulators and manufacturers. The FDR was out to stop prices from rising which is pretty hilarious when you consider that in his first term he wouldn't allow people to cut their prices. Anyway, Stout's sympathies are all for the government when the head of the regulators is murdered at a manufacturers' convention. There are over a 1,000 suspects wi ...more
Best Nero Wolfe mystery I've read!
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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)
  • 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)

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“Frankly, I wish I could make my heart quit doing an extra thump when Wolfe says satisfactory, Archie. It's childish.” 7 likes
“Fritz was standing there, four feet back from the door to the office, which was standing open, staring wide-eyed at me. When he saw I was looking at him he beckoned me to come, and the thought popped into my mind that, with guests present and Wolfe making an oration, that was precisely how Fritz would act if the house was on fire.” 2 likes
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