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The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe #11)

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,907 Ratings  ·  81 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 October 21st 1946)
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Nov 11, 2014 Evgeny rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 18, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

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.
Jul 25, 2015 Barbara rated it liked it
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
Jan 28, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 02, 2012 Nan Silvernail rated it liked it
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
May 12, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Ward
Apr 25, 2015 Richard Ward rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it
My Grade = 88% - B+

A few weeks ago I started reading two books at the same time. I have often done this, sometimes with three. I will read a chapter (or a certain amount of pages) from one and then move to another.

The problem comes when I get very interested in one of them, and then all the rest get stunted to the side.

The books I chose were a Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe (The Doorbell Rang) and John Irving's newest, (Avenue of Mysteries). I never got farther than 35 pages on the Irving (ironically this
Tom Stamper
Jan 12, 2016 Tom Stamper rated it really liked it
I haven't done a good job over the years remembering which of the Wolfe novels I have read. In the past I would read them in bunches and the titles became jumbled in my mind. My brother and I had a friendly competition which he won by reading more than me. It took us about a half dozen books before we found one where Wolfe left the Brownstone. Brother found it first and I relished the details. Wolfe leaves the brownstone in this tale for a good grilling by the cops after Inspector Cramer is temp ...more
Bob Mackey
Apr 12, 2016 Bob Mackey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Rex Stout's first post-WWII novel, the corpulent investigator finds himself in a battle between big business and the government, with a notable murder causing the friction between these to groups to break out into an outright war. And this time around, Stout goes for a slightly new approach: Rather than challenging the reader with solving the mechanics behind an ingenious murderer, he instead crams this story with more suspects than he's ever used before—a dozen-plus at last count. This could ...more
Dee Long
Jan 28, 2016 Dee Long rated it really liked it
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin once again involved in a mystery that seems to be unsolvable. The only drawback to this book is the list of characters who could have committed the crime. Make sure you keep track of who they are and what side they represent. The ever-present wit of Archie keeps the story moving. Wolfe probably is at his most secretive and slyest. Not my favorite Stout book but nonetheless one worth reading (after all he did write 40 Nero Wolfe stories and some are better than other ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, historical
"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
Jun 05, 2014 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vintage-mystery
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
Oct 21, 2015 astaliegurec rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
May 12, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-new-york
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
May 13, 2014 Christopher Rush rated it really liked it
Shelves: nero-wolfe
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
Jun 11, 2013 Dale rated it liked it
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
Jun 03, 2012 Adam Graham rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 06, 2013 Tony rated it liked it
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
Michael Brown
Apr 19, 2016 Michael Brown rated it it was ok
A long and almost boring story. Wolfe needs some money. He approaches a WWII government agency to solve a murder. This agency and another are leftovers from the war effort to organize and regulate industrial efforts during the war. Now in 1946 there are still problems in the economy and these groups strive to outdo each other is easing the country back to a more normal state. Into this Wolfe and company enter and we have a long convoluted tale of everyone keeping secrets and stonewalling the pol ...more
Nancy Butts
Jul 30, 2015 Nancy Butts rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Feb 16, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rachel Reiss
Apr 16, 2016 Rachel Reiss rated it really liked it
As I have said before, I don't (re)read Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries so much for the mysteries as for all the trappings. By that standard, this is the one in which Cramer is fired, Wolfe is arrested (temporarily), Wolfe has a nervous breakdown (or so he informs Doc Vollmer), and Wolfe conducts a search of his office while clad in yellow silk (of course) pajamas.
Feb 18, 2014 Ted rated it liked it
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.
Feb 06, 2009 Cindy rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 999, audiobook
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
Jun 16, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
June 2016, I first read this somewhere around 1976. Now as a book on tape. I've decided the Rex Stout stories feel more dated in a hard bound book than on a book on tape. Now it seems more like a classic movie in black and white. I'm now re-visiting Nero Wolf.
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.
Jul 04, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
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
May 28, 2015 Emily rated it liked it
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.
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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
“He was as indignant and irritated as if he had been served a veal cutlet with an egg perched on it.” 1 likes
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