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Nero Wolfe Fer De Lance
 
by
Rex Stout
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Nero Wolfe Fer De Lance (Nero Wolfe #1)

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  6,243 ratings  ·  314 reviews
Nero Wolfe, the arrogant, gourmandizing, sedentary sleuth, returns--with his perambulatory man-about-town Archie Goodwin in tow--playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda, and hoping to catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart
Published (first published 1934)
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Evgeny
I consider this series to be a US answer to British famous detectives: Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. When it comes to detective fiction, the personality of the character doing the detection can make or break a book, or a series. I am happy to say the personalities of the series' two main characters made them stand as equals among the greatest fictional detectives, including the ones I mentioned.

For the people unfamiliar with the series, the two main characters are Nero Wolfe, a Yugoslavia...more
Huck Finn
I am not a fan of mysteries or detective novels. Garrison Keilor admires Rex Stout, so I thought I'd give one a try. "Fer-de-Lance" is the first in a series of about 50 novels and novellas, and I am now into my tenth book.

These novels are not so plot-driven as your typical who-dunnit, although that obviously is part of the appeal. I enjoy them enormously because of the quirky characters, sarcastic humor, and clever word-play.

There are two heroes: Nero Wolfe is a morbidly obese genius who never...more
Ginny
Jul 07, 2007 Ginny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery & detective fans
Fer-de-Lance is the 1st Nero Wolfe mystery by Rex Stout, and the 2nd I have read. These are classic American detective stories from the 30s, 40s, 50s. Smart tough guys, smart writing... just fun to read. I usually recommend reading series in order, but you could probably pick up any of these. Two things...

1) The original Nero Wolfe series is by Rex Stout. There are other Wolfe books by Robert Goldsborough written in the 80-90s. I haven't read those.

2) There are many, many books in Stout's serie...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Dec 04, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
In this book I got acquainted with a pair of sleuths as memorable as Hercule Poroit or Lord Peter Wimsey. Or rather Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, since in some ways Archie Godwin is to Nero Wolfe what Dr Watson is to Holmes.

Archie is our narrator, the one who gives us a look at Nero's genius--but he's also less and more than Watson. He's not a friend to Wolfe, he's an employee--but since Nero is an eccentric recluse who never leaves his West 35th Street brownstone in New York City, Archie is a...more
Jane Stewart
This is special and different. Unexpected things happen.

The author’s mind is quirky - like he comes from another place. I’m frequently chuckling and smiling over the dialogue or what somebody does. So many authors sound alike when it comes to mysteries. Rex Stout is different. I would read more mysteries if they were like this.

The author began writing the Nero Wolfe series in 1934. Nero Wolfe is an extremely obese man who doesn’t like to leave his home. He is an eccentric genius. Archie Goodwin...more
Tom Brosz
The books in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series are one of my "comfort food" reads. I can re-read them endlessly. Fortunately my memory is bad enough that, given a year or so, I forget most of the mystery endings and who a lot of the bad guys were.

Fer de Lance is the first book in the Nero Wolfe series, and sets the reader down right in the middle of the Wolfe household, just as though this was the fifteenth book instead of the first. No "origin story" here. You'd think Stout had been writing about t...more
Brian
* The first Nero Wolfe book (1934).

* Also the first I've ever read.

* For others in that situation, Nero Wolfe is a corpulent detective who solves crimes essentially from his armchair, with the perambulatory help of Archie Goodwin, who also supplies the muscle when necessary. Clearly, Wolfe owes something to Sherlock Holmes' brother, Mycroft.

* Well-written and enjoyable. Though the plot holds up, what makes the book so entertaining are the characters and their chemistry. Archie is very loyal, but...more
Thomas Paul
Nero Wolfe is one of the most famous detectives in fiction. Wolfe is a genius for solving murders but that is not what makes these books worth reading. It is Wolfe's eccentricities combined with the narration of Wolfe's assistant, Archie Goodwin. Rex Stout displays clever and funny writing (especially the dialogs), to keep the story moving. Nero Wolfe is, of course, the incredibly obese detective who rarely leaves his apartment in Manhattan but sends Archie Goodwin, (his hardboiled, skirt-chasin...more
Alexis Neal
It's 1933, and money is scarce. So when private detective Fred Durkin shows up at the office with a woman in tow and a favor to ask, Wolfe is reluctant. The woman is Maria Maffei, a friend of Mrs. Durkin, and she wants to hire Wolfe to find her missing brother Carlo. Before long, Wolfe has connected Carlo--a metalworker--with the death of a well-respected university president, who dropped dead of a heart attack on the links of a Westchester County golf course. But was it really a heart attack? A...more
David
The writing is witty. I find many phrases I want to remember and use myself.
Sample, Wofle says to Goodwin, “Some day Archie, when I decide you are no longer worth tolerating, you will have to marry a woman of very modest mental capacity to get an appropriate audience for your wretched sarcasms.

The relationship between Nero and Archie is interesting. I think Archie tries to understand Nero by knows he won’t ever and that he is okay being the footwork man for this eccentric genius. He is portary...more
Joe
I was introduced to the Nero Wolfe books quite recently by a fellow Goodreads member (thanks Colleen). At the beginning I have to say I was rather unimpressed, but the more I got familiar with Rex Stout's way of writing the more I liked it.

Although you wonder how the hell Wolfe leaps to the assumptions he makes(always correct), you can't help forgive him for it and his other eccentricities. Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's sidekick/riaght-hand man and all rounder puts up with more that we as the reade...more
Jonfaith
Such was procedural; we had moved into a new house. I was introduced to Archie Goodwin alongside to supervising one's own property. One needs time for one's orchids. These remain the staples.
Donna
I bought this book several years ago when I was trying to expand my mystery novel reading beyond Agatha Christie. I remember reading the first few pages before becoming bored and tossing it aside in favor of a more contemporary work. I picked it up about a week ago, expecting a quick, fun read, but was sorely disappointed.

I found myself disliking nearly every character in the book, including the corpulent, agoraphobic Nero Wolfe and his closest employee, the wise-cracking, milk-drinking Archie G...more
Joyce Lagow
The first in the fabled Nero Wolfe series, in which we meet the great detective himself and his enterprising assistant, Archie Goodwin.

The plot: a university president suddenly dies while participating in a foursome of golf. His doctor immediately pronounces it as a heart attack, but it turns out to be a fiendishly clever murder. Wolfe and Archie are hired (more or less, sometimes less as the client has second thoughts) to find the murderer. And they do, in a combination of brilliant logical ded...more
Geoff Bottone
The first of many (many) books about overweight, crabby, orchid-and-food-obsessed Nero Wolfe and his glib, sociable, milk-drinking traveling gumshoe companion Archie Goodwin. Maria Maffeti hires Wolfe to find her missing brother. He takes the job because he needs the money, even though the case bores him. He learns that Carlo Maffeti disappeared shortly after cutting out all of the stories in the newspaper pertaining to the mysterious stroke and subsequent death of the president of Holland Colle...more
Adam
First off: if you haven't already read the publisher's plot summary, don't! It throws out as a "teaser" a key plot point that comes 3/4s of the way through the book.

Anyway, I'm hooked. I've read a couple of these, skipping around, and now landed on the debut Nero Wolfe novel here, from 1934. What fun! As always, it's hardboiled and edgy, even allowing the protagonists occasionally to exhibit a ruthlessness that mystery readers will remember from James M. Cain but may not quite recall, without so...more
Leesa
I have read two of the Nero Wolfe books, as I got them for a present, and I am completely addicted. Wolfe is a morbidly obese genius detective, along the lines of Sherlock Holmes. Yet, he's American, and his sidekick is a cocky 1930s goodfella named Archie Goodwin. Goodwin does the footwork for Wolfe, who is a massive eccentric that never leaves his NYC brownstone. Goodwin convinces witnesses to come see Wolfe at his residence, so that Wolfe does not need to leave.

Wolfe is so eccentric that he...more
Rinnerl
„Fer-de-lance“ is Rex Stout’s first Nero Wolfe novel, but it’s not the first case for the eccentric detective and his right hand man Archie Goodwin. The two men are already in the seventh year of their unique partnership, living and working together in the Old Brownstone in New York. They function like a well oiled machine, Wolfe does the thinking (mostly) and Archie is the to-do guy.
In „Fer-de-lance“ former clients make an appearance, cases prior to this are mentioned and like in later books, t...more
Jeff
I would put Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin and his successors somewhere in the middle of the crime fiction gamut between the British cozies on one end and American hardboiled pulp on the other. Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout's armchair detective was a worthy, mid-twentieth century heir to Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes' Dr. Watson, Wolfe also has a trusty sidekick in the person of Archie Goodwin, who also serves as the narrator of the Nero Wolfe stories.

The Nero Wolfe series had an amazing 40-year run o...more
LJ
First Sentence: There was no reason why I shouldn’t have been sent for the beer that day, for the last ends of the Fairmont National Bank case had been gathered in the week before and there was nothing for me to do but errands, and Wolfe never hesitated about running me down to Murray Street for a can of shoe-polish if he happened to need one.

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin’s first published case becomes one of two parts; a young woman hires Wolfe to find her missing brother, and a college preside...more
kaoyler
This is the first book of the Nero Wolfe series, and I have read every one of them. Archie Goodwin, one of the main characters in the series, is one half of my perfect man. (The other half is Atticus Finch.) I won't put all of the books on GoodReads right now because it would take up a lot of room. But the Nero Wolfe books just make me giggle as Wolfe and Archie work to solve each mystery. Rex Stout's daughter said he never revised once he'd finished a book. He would spend two months walking aro...more
Jamie
This is the first Nero Wolfe mystery novel, published in 1934, and it was way more fun than I was expecting. It’s set in a New York city in the grip of the Great Depression, at the end of prohibition.

Wolfe is a sedentary, obese, eccentric genius who rarely leaves his house. ("Be seated. You must pardon me; for engineering reasons I arise only for emergencies.") The story is narrated by his more spry assistant Archie Goodwin, who does all of the leg work, driving around town in his Roadster and o...more
Jon
The first in the Nero Wolfe series, and I had never read it before. I was surprised to find that Wolfe and Archie had already been together for seven years and had pretty much established their relationship before this story begins. Amazing how tightly written these are, and how well they've aged. And this one was further surprising in that Archie flat out tells us who the murderer is less than half-way through, and the rest of the book is spent establishing motive and finding proof that would s...more
Elizabeth
Had been meaning to re-read the Rex Stout, chronologically for a while. Didn't have any of them anymore. the Ol' Curmudgeon read my mind and picked this up at a used book store. It's as good as I remembered - that is to say - EXCELLENT! Will have to gradually accumulate the rest of the 73 of the Stout Canon.
Now that I've finally finished it - WOW!!
I loved the Nero Wolfe TV series with Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin and Maury Chaykin as Nero Wolfe. The entire time I was reading this book, I w...more
Ioana
This was my introduction to Rex Stout, and I am hooked! The mystery was weak and a "1/5" compared to classic Christie, but still the book was brilliant. First is Stout's use of language, which I do not claim to fully understand - his analogies, humor, and descriptions are full of American 30's slang (most of which I don't get), or are otherwise incredibly witty and creative in a non-traditional sense. Trying to understand Stout fully was like a puzzle; there are few books that take so much effor...more
sage
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Shaffner
This statement (from the man himself) rather sums up a first impression of Nero Wolfe: "I understand the technique of eccentricity; it would be futile for a man to labor at establishing a reputation for oddity if he were ready at the slightest provocation to revert to normal action."

The narration (in sidekick Archie Goodwin's voice) is full of gems like this one: "Everything that the doctor could tell me I had read three days earlier in the newspapers except for a bunch of medical terms which t...more
Ruthie Jones
Nero Wolfe is a cross between Christie's Hercule Poirot and Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Rex Stout spent more time developing the character of Wolfe's assistant, Archie Goodwin, so it's hard to form much of an opinion of Wolfe, except that he's eccentric (as are the other two detectives I mentioned). Apparently Wolfe is also extremely overweight, loves his beer, and grows exotic orchids. He also never (or rarely) leaves his house, hence the needs for the youthful and exuberant Archie (who makes good...more
Gary
Really enjoyed this book. Loved both Archie & Nero, they are great characters. Thought the twists and turns in the mystery were great. I look forward to reading more in the series.
Westley
The first Nero Wolfe book manages to develop the main characters while also telling a rip-roaring good mystery story. The interplay between the eccentric Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin feels modern and fresh, even though the book was written in 1934. I can't wait to tackle the next Wolfe book.
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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...
Some Buried Caesar (Nero Wolfe, #6) Too Many Cooks (Nero Wolfe, #5) The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2) Black Orchids (Nero Wolfe, #9) The Doorbell Rang (Nero Wolfe, #41)

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“[A] pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.” 54 likes
“I understand the technique of eccentricity; it would be futile for a man to labor at establishing a reputation for oddity if he were ready at the slightest provocation to revert to normal action.” 2 likes
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