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The Second Confession (Nero Wolfe, #15)
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The Second Confession (Nero Wolfe #15)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,423 ratings  ·  70 reviews
A millionaire businessman hires Nero Wolfe to snoop on his daughter's boyfriend. It seems like a simple case. Then a powerful gangland boss tries to convince Wolfe to drop the matter by shooting up his orchid room. The great detective soon finds himself in a highly complex case involving drugged drinks, man-killing debutantes and a decidedly un-American party.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Bantam (first published 1949)
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It started innocently enough. A millionaire asked Nero Wolfe to get a proof his daughter's boyfriend is a member of US Communist Party (we are talking about McCarthyism era here when people were afraid of Communists - replaced by terrorists these days - and were sure they eat babies for breakfast). This is a typical conflict between the fathers and sons (daughters) where the father does not approve his potential son-in-law and the daughter dates the guy just in spite.

Nero Wolfe - or Archie Good
By 1949, Rex Stout had written fifteen crime novels featuring the homebody gardener/detective Nero Wolfe, and the no-nonsense series was a reliable source of entertaining puzzles.

The Wolfe books make good use of the body-mind split concept, with Wolfe—-an obese man who uses an elevator to go from floor to floor in his home—-pondering cases mentally at home while his younger assistant Archie Goodwin performs the legwork and all necessary seductions. The Second Confession, however, breaks from for
Jun 28, 2013 Heather added it
Recommended to Heather by: Chip
Shelves: mystery
He kept me guessing right until the end. So many suspects, so many red herrings, and it really could have been anybody! I like how that frustrates the detectives as much as it frustrated me as reader. Lots of great Archie Goodwin moments in this one!
Though it doesn't usually matter in what order you read these books, I got the feeling that it would have helped if I'd read And Be A Villain first, as it refers heavily to events that took place in that book. Even without the background, I was still
Alison C
Published in 1949, The Second Confession, by Rex Stout, once again finds our intrepid hero and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin, wending their way through the wiles and deceptions of a wealthy family (and hangers-on) to ferret out the identity of a murderer. Interestingly enough, this book includes a mysterious Mr. X, who turns out to be Wolfe's Moriarty, and a more menacing character I haven't seen in this series - and the character only shows up in the form of a few telephone calls in this book! A ...more
I've been reading these nonstop since I "discovered" Rex Stout for myself a few months ago, and I'm going in order. I'm addicted, and it's 99% percent because of Archie and more generally, because of the way Stout constructs his characters (and not because of the plots/storylines). But #15 was my first disappointment- basically, the story makes NO sense. In other stories, Wolfe sits back at the end and tells all about his methods and explains motive, means, opportunity, but in this one, there is ...more
Bruce Blaney
Anti-Communism is not good literature

Stout is too much the servant of mindless cold war ideology. Very disappointing read. Poor plotting and weak character development.
The Second Confession might just be my new favorite, favorite Nero Wolfe novel. I didn't think it was possible to love Wolfe and Goodwin more than I already did, but spending two days with this book proved that I had more love to give. I loved, loved, loved every minute of this mystery.

Mr. Sperling hires Wolfe as a private detective "to prove" that his daughter's boyfriend is a communist. Wolfe is reluctant to take on a case with those terms. He argues that what Sperling desires is not proof tha
One of the greatest pleasures I find in reading Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries is the total immersion into Mid-Century Manhattan:

. . . Archie taking his dates dancing at The Flamingo Club;

. . . the "downtown" culture of walking to most appointments and only taking the car for out-of-town excursions;

. . . the dapper wardrobe details of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin;

And it goes on and on. But, that fidelity to time and place also can date the books and The Second Confession might be perceived to
Christopher Rush
Though all Wolfe stories are different to some degree, this was clearly the most distinct in the canon thus far: Wolfe not only leaves his house (which he has done in other stories, to be sure), but his house is attacked by the mysterious person quickly becoming an arch-nemesis to Wolfe. The pacing is much more rapid than most Wolfe books: we have a sense of urgency from the beginning that drives through the first half of the novel. Even when the pace slows down around the 3/4 mark, we still fee ...more
Thomas Paul
James Sperling's younger daughter has expressed an interest in a young man named Louis Rony and Sperling doesn't like him. He is convinced that Rony is a communist and to a dedicated wealthy capitalist like Sperling, being a communist is about the worst sin a man is capable of committing. He wants Wolfe to find sufficient proof so that he can get his daughter to drop Rony. Wolfe is reluctant to take the case but in the end he does.

An acquaintance of Wolfe objects to his taking the case and uses
Another dimension of Nero and Archie revealed, August 14, 2012
By Ellen Rappaport (Florida)
This review is from: The Second Confession (Nero Wolfe Mysteries) (Mass Market Paperback)
I love going back to the old Brownstone and listening in while Nero organizes clues as he delves into another case.

This case , however, involves Zeck aka Mr. "X":. Wolfe states in no uncertain terms that he hopes never to hear his voice or hear the name of Zeck again. And why you might ask. Nero is afraid of what he
Stout, Rex. THE SECOND CONFESSION. (1949). ****.
You have to realize that this novel featuring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin was written in 1949, at the height of the Communist scare and the onset of Russian Cold War tactics. The millionaire owner of a mining consortium meets with Wolfe in his office and has a job for him. He wants Wolfe to prove that a young man who is currently seeing his daughter is a Communist. That proven, he can then expect his daughter to break off the relationship that h
Nan Silvernail
Mining magnate James Sperling hates communists. He feels if he can prove his daughter's slick lawyer boyfriend is one, she will drop him like something red-hot (sorry, couldn't resist). But someone doesn't want Wolfe on the case and warns him off in a horrifying way - by raking Wolfe's precious rooftop orchids with Tommy Guns! But when someone kills the boyfriend, suddenly the mysterious someone wants Wolfe to solve it. Of course, Wolfe already wants to find out who had the audacity to use his p ...more
Mystery writers who create a genius detective/protagonist face the problem of how to keep things interesting as their series extend over time. The first few mysteries are not a problem since the writer still has a full chest of ideas to work with and the reader is still learning about the detective. As the series continue, however, the writer is not only faced with the problem of devising new mysteries to be solve she/he is also faced with a larger problem. Given that most (real life) crimes are ...more
Perry Whitford
James U. Sperling, chairman of the board of the Continental Mines Corporation and a man who 'didn't bite ears of ... because he took whole heads and ate them bones and all', suspects that his youngest daughter is dating a communist, he hires Nero Wolfe to produce the evidence.
Louis Rony may or may not be a communist, but as Wolfe soon discovers, if so then that would be the least of his crimes. Much worse than that suspected affiliation is his connection with the the only criminal Wolfe fears, h
A pretty good Wolfe story; one of the few in which Wolfe leaves the office on business, although he does not do so in nearly as entertaining a manner as in previous installments in the series. Wolfe's nemesis Zeck makes an "appearance" in this novel, and I don't like the idea that Wolfe has to have a nemesis so this book is automatically not one of my favorites in the series. I guess it makes sense from a marketing perspective, but I just don't think it's needed. As I understand it isn't a recur ...more
The setup: Sperling is convinced that his daughter's boyfriend, Rony, is a Communist but has no proof. He engages Nero Wolfe to find it. Wolfe dispatches Archie (disguised as 'Andy') to spend a weekend with the family. The supposed Communist turns up dead.

The review: Subversive communism dates this book but Stout steers it neatly away from politics after the introduction and focuses it firmly on the mystery. The involvement of Zeck, the Moriarty to Wolfe's Holmes is the highlight of this book.
Binx Gray
Hmm, my mother was a Nero Wolfe lover back in the day. I never read one till now. Can't say I'm a fan, at all. I found the writing stilted, either sentences (or dialog) was clipped, like shorthand, or the sentences were convoluted and ran on with no regard to grammar. I found myself having to re-read a lot. The denouement, like the rest of the story I found confusing. I can't even blame this on the fact that the book is dated. I've read other whodunits that are even older which hold up quite wel ...more
I may be in the minority, but the Arnold Zeck books are not my favorites, even with the master-criminal element. Maybe because they shake up the formula so much--and I like the formula? Anyway, still a good plot and characters, albeit with a bit too much about Commies.
Archie's snark is first-rate, and the plot has Wolfe and co. in a real predicament as a case takes them across the path of the sinister Arnold Zeck. Along with the previous book (And Be a Villain) and one of the later books whose title I forget, The Second Confession makes up the trilogy of Zeck-related incidents. Much more interesting, however, are the characters (Madeline Sperling might give Lily Rowan a run for her money as a smart, sassy companion for Archie) and the dated, but interesting, ...more
CJ Reader
I should have known better than to think I could guess where Rex Stout was going with his killer. There I was, certain I had put one over and figured things out just as Nero Wolfe had, but the ending got me! Completely flummoxed and loving it.
This one had me puzzled to nearly the end, though mostly over what seemed to be a dual plot. There is Wolfe's nemesis, and there is a flap over Commies, and I didn't see how they were related. Maybe I still don't, but anyway this one kept me guessing.
John Rasmussen
Rereading this mystery, I found myself still immersed in the story line. I like all the Nero Wolfe stories. Recently read the first, Fer de Lance, and I can see how Rex Stout evolved in his writing style since it.
A solid one in which Wolfe squares off against his archnemesis Zeck. Orchids are destroyed in the melee.
I, completely by accident, happened to read two Nero Wolfe books in sequential order! "The Second Confession" followed up on a background character, a certain Mr. Z, which was introduced in a novel I'd just finished. And I finally got to experience the great plant rooms disaster that I'd heard about in references from later published novels. As expected, the book was a delight to read. In perusing our library card catalogue (no longer, alas, on cards), I've found another mention of Mr. Z or two, ...more
Average Nero Wolfe with a little too-easy-end-solution.
Steven Vaughan-Nichols
Another classic Nero Wolfe mystery. It was a pleasure to re-read it.
Lisa Kucharski
A much more slippery mystery than usual. Wolfe takes on an assignment that is a bit low on the grade for even him, try and dissuade a young woman to marry a man based on papa not liking him.

This "investigation" creates a very slippery feel to the entire storyline, and then it appears that Wolfe's nemesis X (like a Moriarty) is involved as well. And so the Wolfe and Archie work on peeling away various elements until they come unto the final answer.

Part murder mystery, social political view of th
From 1949, a good outing for Nero Wolfe, with Archie Goodwin in fine form and strong supporting performances by Saul Panzer and the rest of the usual cast, as well as an appearance by Wolfe's nemesis. Like many Stout novels from the era, the plot centers around suspicion that someone is a Communist. The mystery featues a nice twist, but like the rest of the series, the fun is in the interplay of the cast and the distincive voice of Archie Goodwin as narrator rather than the plot.
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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)
Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1) 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)

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