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Fer-de-Lance/The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe #1-2)

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  379 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
A grand master of the form, Rex Stout is one of America’s greatest mystery writers, and his literary creation Nero Wolfe is one of fiction’s greatest detectives. Here, in Stout’s first two complete Wolfe mysteries, the arrogant, gourmandizing, sedentary sleuth and his trusty man-about-town Archie Goodwin solve their most baffling cases.

The fer-de-lance is among
Paperback, 608 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Bantam
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Megan Baxter
May 22, 2012 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
Nero Wolfe books are always a great pleasure to read, and the wonder is that it's taken me so long to get back to them. There were always a bunch around when I was growing up, but they aren't something I've returned to as an adult as much as I have to, say, John D. MacDonald. As mysteries, they're entertaining, but much of the pleasure lies in the world Rex Stout creates for his main character, the insular haven to which people must bring him problems, and which he rarely ever leaves.

Note: The r
Jul 31, 2010 Hobart rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-reads
Rex Stout's Fer-de-Lance is the first of 40+ books (novels or short story collections) featuring the exploits of private investigator Archie Goodwin (2 parts Huck Finn, 1 part Philip Marlowe) and his eccentric employer, Nero Wolfe (1 part Sherlock Holmes, 1 part Mycroft Holmes)--yes, I am one of those who think that Archie's the main character in the mis-nomered Nero Wolfe Mysteries.

In reading about Rex Stout/Nero Wolfe (either by fans or professionals) there's an oft-quoted line from Walter D.
Lisa Kucharski
Jan 11, 2013 Lisa Kucharski rated it really liked it
I've read the first book before, but could only find the 2nd book in the series in a combo book. The League is a really complicated story, all sorts of twists and turns, and I think in this book Archie's voice starts to really get set. Lots of action and danger here. And the character of Paul Chapin is very interesting as well.
Feb 25, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These books are a total pleasure. Not only are the characters rock solid, but the prose is highly entertaining and the puzzles are never along the same lines. A great ride that keeps you guessing, enthralled and thoroughly engaged to the very last sentence. I love Nero Wolfe!
Mar 10, 2010 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Nero Wolfe, but the editor of this edition is really bad. I especially liked The League of Frightened Men. Strangely enough the women in the story were not frightened at all.
Jun 08, 2009 thecrx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Susanne
Finally some Stout turns up at the NYPL! This is the ne plus ultra of detective fiction, no matter what the print size.
Mar 07, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
I want to live in a lovely brownstone with a fabulous Swiss chef and 10,000 orchids.
Mark Lisac
Feb 23, 2017 Mark Lisac rated it really liked it
For the first entry in a series that lasted decades, Fer-de-Lance is remarkably well realized. Yes, it's rough around the edges. Stout tolerated a lot of questionable attitudes and at least as much judge-and-jury decision making as Conan Doyle in certain stories. But the atmosphere compensates. The gauze-filtered views of New York during its 20th-century heyday, as well as the often fractious but always respectful relationship between Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, are here in full. It's a pip — ...more
Feb 01, 2017 Antoinette rated it liked it
I read this for a book club assignment. I have read others in the series but Fer-de-lance was Stout's first in the series. I was appalled by the level of disdain for women and the verbal and physical abuse of women portrayed in Fer-de-lance. I am finished with Rex Stout.
Jan 26, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
I first read a Nero Wolfe mystery when I was about 13 or 14, right at the height of my interest in classic detective fiction. Probably, because I normally stuck to British detectives, I picked up a Wolfe because my grandfather liked them and had a small boxed set of paperbacks on his shelf. He didn't keep many books in his house, so I can only guess that they were a gift - and/or he simply liked them a lot. Coming back to Rex Stout's famous sedentary sleuth a decade and a half later, I think the ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Justin rated it it was amazing
How does one reconcile the "cerebral" or "refined" detective--like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, etc--with the more hard-bitten detectives in the style of Continental Op/Sam Spade/Mike Hammer?

If you're Rex Stout, you can have your cake and eat it too by pairing up an exemplar of each type: the brilliant, inscrutable Nero Wolfe and his rough-about-the-edges assistant (and each story's narrator) Archie Goodwin. And if Wolfe's chef Fritz is doing the cooking, odds are that cake is worth waiting
Sep 28, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Over the summer I set a goal of reading all of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories. I read Robert Goldsborough’s continuation also. What wonderful books. I had forgotten how much I loved Nero and Archie. My Dad introduced these stories to me when I was kid and had graduated from Nancy Drew. We read them together and discussed. Although my Dad has been gone for over 30 years, as I re-read these mysteries I could picture him reading in his chair and would even catch a whiff of his Old Spice after shave ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
There are so many reviews of the writings of Rex Stout that I don't feel the need to say more about that. It is far more important to review the failings ofthis particular edition, printed in 2008. The entire volume is littered with spelling errors, and a few punctuation mistakes as well. This may seem a minor thing, but the difference of one letter can be the difference between talking about "the murdered" and talking about "the murderer." I find that important. I'm accustomed to an occasional ...more
Jul 09, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series is a true joy and pleasure...this volume contains the first two novels in the series and while I had red Fer-De-Lance before I had never read The League of Frightened Men...and the League is just fantastic...a marvleous piece of writing about writing and the then emerging idea of psychology in all aspects of life....Wole and Goodwin are such stunning detective creations...brilliant in their own right but also a great caricature of the classic staple of detective fic ...more
Jul 14, 2010 Golden rated it really liked it
Dashiell Hammett lite. Depression era mysteries complete with 1930's tough guy dialogue. Stouts hero, Nero Wolfe is an agorophobic, orchidophilic gourmand whos sidekick archie does all of the physical work. The mysteries are interesting but Wolfe doesn't let Archie or the reader into his thought processes so the puzzles are more puzzling than I would like. I'm a big mystery fan (Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett)and I did enjoy both stories in this.
Aug 16, 2011 Jessi rated it really liked it
An incredibly rich man has died and only Nero Wolfe seems to think that it is murder. He starts working on finding a client.

"The League of Frightened Men" has twelve men who have been paying for their guilt in a life-maiming accident ever since college. Now the man they hurt seems to be picking them off one by one. Is this mysterious writer really killing the men or is there something darker going on?
Sep 28, 2013 Joshua rated it liked it
Years ago I watched the Nero Wolfe tv series on A&E. When I realized there was a book series behind t I found this book at the library. They are good detective stories with twists and turns, but what makes it is the voice of the narration and the dialogue. My reading was very colored by what I remember of the show, but in a good way.
Sue Jochens
Dec 31, 2014 Sue Jochens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can anything compare with an old film noir type detective book? Going back to my childhood, I have recently picked up some old Rex Stout books and have decided to read them in order. As good in 2015 as they were in 1964. They just don't write cool stuff like Stout, Hammett, Chandler, and the like anymore.
May 20, 2012 Tom rated it liked it
I didn't really know what to expect from Nero Wolfe. I hadn't seen the television series, and had no idea who Nero Wolfe was. It's an okay series, solidly written. Definitely a product of their time, but that's a positive thing. But I never found myself getting caught up in Wolfe - unlike Poirot.
Oct 18, 2015 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly entertaining

Stout was as much a genius as his detective. I have a voracious appetite for Nero Wolfe novels. I reread them at least once a year. Many times I find something new, something I've missed despite the many times I have read one.
Paul Walker
Jul 22, 2015 Paul Walker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: series, crime
Of their time - it's been amusing how many words the Kindle dictionary showed up as "[ARCHAIC]" - but an entertaining read. The two main characters aren't just ciphers - particularly Archie, where there must have been a temptation to Watson-ise him. I'll be reading the next one(s) too.
Oct 30, 2009 Kristy rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I liked the League of Frightened Men more than Fer de Lance but both were quite good. I like the combination of noirish hardboiled dialogue and time period with a British Christie-style bloodless plot and a slightly ridiculous egomaniac detective.
Nov 20, 2008 Chris added it
Fer-de-Lance/The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout (2008)
May 03, 2014 Ray rated it liked it
Crypto 1930s homos. I liked that part.

Very playful and intelligent use of language.

The first book had a satisfying enough plot. The second left me confused. I may try some more.

Sep 01, 2012 R-220 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
My favorite Nero Wolfe Mystery. The speculation ability of Wolfe is sooo brilliant! And I like active and attractive Archie Goodwin.
Aug 08, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
First two novels of the Nero Wolfe series. Love them both!
Apr 16, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Solid. I think Rex Stout is the bastard child of Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.
Jack Schultz
Jun 14, 2015 Jack Schultz rated it liked it
Of the two stories, I preferred the League of Frightened Men.
William P.
Ha! Well done, Mr. Stout you wondrous dead man you! Fer-de-Lance was well done, but League was amazing. I had hints of the final setup but in the end it was phenomenal and I'm left in mild awe.
Feb 19, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
Shelves: x2012-13-season
A pair of classic mysteries from time gone by - a time of unbranded beer, switchboard operators, and on-street parking in Manhattan.
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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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“The back-seat driving of the less charitable emotions often makes me wonder that the brain does not desert the wheel entirely, in righteous exasperation. Not” 1 likes
“Good heavens.” Wolfe pushed back his chair, not of course with violence, but with determination. “Archie. Understand this. As a man of action you are tolerable, you are even competent. But I will not for one moment put up with you as a psychologist. I” 1 likes
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