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The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe #2)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  3,967 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
Paul Chapin's college cronies never forgave themselves for the prank that crippled their friend. Yet with Harvard days behind them, they thought they were forgiven -- until a class reunion ends in a fatal fall. This league of frightened men seeks Nero Wolfe's help. But are Wolfe's brilliance and Archie's tenacity enough to outwit a most cunning killer?
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 28th 2010 by Bantam (first published August 14th 1935)
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Oct 31, 2012 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not going to retell the book's blurb as it contains too many spoilers - in my opinion. Nero Wolfe found himself without a job for quite some time - and with his money running out. Pestered by Archie Goodwin who is a man of action and cannot stand the prolonged absence of it, the great New York detective decides to take a case he rejected some time ago, only this time he chooses to involve more people as his clients: a group of people known as The League of Frightened Men thorough the book.

I love Nero Wolfe mysteries for so many reasons. The banter between Wolfe and sidekick, feet-on-the-street Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's genius and Goodwin's street smarts, the conjuring of an era (roadsters, sedans, switchboards, 1930's attire, etc.), food, orchids, snappy dialogue and the supporting characters both in the brownstone and outside.

In this one Wolfe is becoming desperate for work and takes a job against his better judgment. Fifteen middle-aged men are frightened out of their wits that a
John Yeoman
Oct 24, 2014 John Yeoman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-suspense
This is arguably the first Nero Wolfe novel and probably the best. The author Rex Stout thought so himself. Across 47 Wolfe novels and anthologies, Stout kept up a remarkable quality, especially as he never edited a word. His later novels might be accused of digression, twittering dialogue that went nowhere, and loose structure. (Robert Heinlein exhibited the same faults in his dotage.) But this is ingenious, crisp and as sharply crafted as an Aztec crystal skull.

No point in reviewing the plot.
Second installment in the Nero Wolfe detective series.

Thirty years ago a club of Harvard upperclassmen gathered together and inadvertently maimed an unsuspecting freshman in a hazing incident on old Harvard yard. Nothing really comes out of the incident until thirty years later when one of the club members, a guy named Judge Harrison, falls to his death at a club reunion. The following monday the club members receive a letter supposedly from the maimed member, whose name is Paul Chapin, that bas
Jul 24, 2011 Tony rated it it was ok
Stout, Rex. THE LEAGUE OF FRIGHTENED MEN. (1935). **.
I’m usually an enthusiastic fan of Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries, but this one challenged my enthusiasm. The middle part of the novel was incredibly boring and drawn out. Here goes: A group of men visit Nero Wolfe’s offices and explain that they want him to take on a case of a rampant murderer and bringing him to justice. Until that was accomplished, they lived in fear of their lives. It seems that when these men – all of them Harvard graduate
Oct 23, 2014 Nawfal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-2, mystery, bantam
Definitely earns the praise it gets for being an involved, psychology-filled story. A lot of the details are either too obscure or intricate for me to follow. That's okay with me - I read for entertainment, trusting that detectives and cops and heroes in stories are capable and skilled. They don't need me back-checking their work. Anyway, Archie is great. Nero is great. And I have sympathy for Fritz. And Nero makes beer sound so good. Overall, a character-driven story with lots of misdirections ...more
This episode of the Nero Wolfe Mysteries find Nero and Archie investigating an apparent murder at a Harvard Reunion.

Thrity years before, the friends talk Paul Chapin (now a famous author) into doing something dangerous, it all goes wrong and Paul is left crippled.

Back in the present of the 1930's, the friends begin to die in suspicious ways followed by murder notes to the survivors. Is it Paul taking revenge or is it a set-up? Only Wolfe and Archie can uncover the truth!
Maria Carmo
Feb 06, 2017 Maria Carmo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Another magnificent adventure of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin: this time, Wolfe has to relinquish his comfort to help Archie when he is drugged and kept in a strange house...
As usual, Nero Wolfe's intellectual capacities are at his best, solving all the intertwined plots that turn this book into a real masterpiece! Definitely an excellent read!!!!

Maria Carmo,

Lisbon 6 February 2017
Alípio Vieira Firmino
Mais um autor que me fascinou, boa escrita + inteligência = policial brilhante.
Quando iniciei o meu percurso enquanto leitor, não necessitei de muito tempo para concluir que os policias são o meu género de eleição. Anteriormente, num post aqui publicado sobre o livro "Tempo de Espionagem" de Agatha Christie", falei sobre uma das escritoras de policiais mais conhecidas e conceituadas, e após finalizar esta leitura creio ter encontrado um autor com a capacidade de lhe fazer frente. Rex Stout é por
I hadn't read this one since childhood, so I remembered almost none of it. In a way, I loved it. But not necessarily as a detective story. I'm not into looking for plotholes, yet I noticed two or three which took me out of the story briefly. No, what I loved was how absorbing the language and dialogue is. I think Stout tightened things up in later books, and that's good. But this early story has something later ones are missing; a love not only of language, but of thinking about language. Which ...more
Panu Mäkinen
Pelokkaitten miesten liitto on ahdettu täyteen henkilöhahmoja. Ilmeisesti sama ongelma koskee muitakin Rex Stoutin varhaiskauden teoksia. Oli miten oli, kirjan tapahtumien lähtökohta on kaukana menneisyydessä. Paul Chapin oli loukkaantunut vaikeasti onnettomuudessa, johon syypäänä voitiin osittain pitää hänen opiskelukavereitaan. Vuodet vierivät, mutta vammat jäävät pysyviksi.

Yhtäkkiä opiskelukavereita alkaa kuolla hämärissä olosuhteissa. Onnettomuuksia vai itsemurhia? Ihmisillä on eri käsityksi
Jamie Collins
Oct 01, 2012 Jamie Collins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was even better than the first book. I continue to enjoy the banter between Wolfe and Archie, and the mystery was pretty interesting.

The story is set in New York City in 1935. A man who was crippled many years ago during a hazing incident at Harvard is suspected of taking his revenge on the group of men who participated - despite the fact that they have formed a “League of Atonement” and provided their victim with financial and emotional support over the years.

I was struck by the viciousnes
Oct 10, 2015 thefourthvine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, reread
Oh man. This is the second book in the series, and compared to the first, it's definitely more of what I think of as a typical Nero Wolfe book, but it is not all that fun to read. We are still deep in overt, awful racism territory, plus some deeply gross ableism that included (among many other things) the idea that physical disabilities lead to psychopathy AND an derogatory epithet I've never heard outside this book. Just, wow.

This reread is REALLY driving home to me how much beginning at the be
Jul 29, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all mystery fans
Recommended to Elizabeth by: the Ol' Curmudgeon
Well, this is #2 in the Nero Wolfe Canon, and I've read it. It is a really good book, and I can just picture Timothy Hutton and Maury Chakin playing this - it would have been great! A&E really did something stupid when they canceled the Nero Wolfe series. It's a fun book with a complicated plot involving a group of men frightened by a potential death threat. Unraveling the threat and exposing the person threatening them is a task only Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin can do.
Jul 11, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second in the Nero Wolfe series, and typically good. Archie Goodwin is still basically a tough guy (later he will become much smarter), and Wolfe even repeatedly makes fun of his inability to keep up with the subtleties of what's going on. I like the later books somewhat better, after Archie becomes more of an equal partner.
Jul 05, 2009 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a 1968 edition complete with the colorfully offensive slang of the 30's when this was originally published. Maybe it was because of that,or maybe because it was so early in Stout's career, but this one seemed harsher.
Jun 04, 2007 Jest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
The first Nero Wolfe mystery I ever read and still my favorite. The Drugged!Archie part makes me squee so much you can probably hear it at the South Pole.
Jun 04, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Working my way through Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe's series - they are just fun reads in the genre of Dashiell Hammett.
Dec 08, 2015 meeners rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
for the past 5 years or so i've been haphazardly making my way through the nero wolfe canon, entirely out of order, based on library availability and readerly mood at the time. mostly it hasn't mattered, as each book has more-or-less the same familiar beats and rhythms, including inevitable descriptions of . . .

+ wolfe's orchids, and the rigid schedule wolfe keeps in order to maintain them
+ archie and wolfe eating an elaborate meal cooked by a demure fritz, usually featuring at least one ingred
Jan 02, 2017 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Nero Wolfe novel and a fairly classic tale, in that it is referred to in several novels that come later. It features many things you would expect from a Nero Wolfe tale: a tricky set of clients, a diverse group of haughty people assembled into Nero's office and unsuccessfully commanding him to do things, some liars, an arch-enemy or two, deception, death, an irate Inspector Cramer, and quality Archie and Nero banter.
D J Rout
Dec 27, 2016 D J Rout rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The disappointing thing about this book is that the onvolutions of the plot eventually come to nothing. There is a solution, but it's as implausible as the setup, which relies on characters supposedly seeking Nero Wolfe's help withholding informationto leave a puzzle for the brilliant armchair detective.

Ah, well, it's the secnd book. I don't thnk I'll be nvesting a great deal of time in any more.
The League of Frightened Gentlemen (1935) is the second of Rex Stout's books featuring the detective duo of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Stout's team--made up of the gargantuan genius Wolfe and his street smart legman Goodwin--always provide good entertainment even early in the series.

Here we have a group of frightened men who are certain that their college friend, Paul Chapin, is set on a path of revenge for a crippling injury he suffered at their hands during a hazing incident. Two of their
Nuno Miguel
Dec 18, 2016 Nuno Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is only my second Rex Stout's novel - the first being "Fer-de-Lance", which i loved - but i can feel i'm in the presence of one of the best crime/mystery writers of all time. The way he keeps the reader hooked right until the end with a rather unexpected turn of events is remarkable. And Nero Wolfe, the main character, is just huge (literally) and filled with erudition and shrewdness, conducting the plot exemplarily, a plot riddled with an omnipresent feeling of fear and threat caused by an ...more
Ricardo Moedano
I hope Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfes assistant and narrator of the stories, will excuse me for borrowing one of his own terms ('washout') in assorting this volume, along with Fer-de-Lance, under the label League of slumberous washouts, which label comprises some of Rex Stouts fellow crime novelists whose works have also brought out the ditcher inside me before I finished them because of my positive incapacity to give a straw about what happened – an affliction produced, in turn, either by the insu ...more
Nan Silvernail
Mar 04, 2012 Nan Silvernail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hazing prank on a Harvard freshman sends a brilliant young man, Paul Chapin out on a high window ledge. His fall shatters his body but not his mind. It sobers the hazers and they vow to make it up to the cripple by atoning for it the rest of their lives. But pity can curdle and nurture resentment along with gratitude. Now the members of the League of Atonement are dying one by one and the rest are receiving thinly veiled anonymous letters in Chapin's unmistakable hand. Chapin has even written ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Second in the Wolfe canon, this book is of interest to the careful reader, as it shows several changes made later. Cramer has a marginal part in the book, Fritz sleeps upstairs next to the plant rooms (later he had a basement apartment), and Wolfe voluntarily opens a window for some fresh air! Wonders never later years we are told that he equates fresh air with travel--certain death.

Archie is certainly more cynical and sarcastic in the early books than he became later, and this one is
Alexander Inglis
There are few writers as prolific as Rex Stout, and fewer still who dedicated so many novels to the same character. In this case, The League of Frightened Men, originally published as a magazine serial over six weeks in the Saturday Evening Post in 1935, Nero Wolfe appears as the star of the second novel in the series along with Archie Goodwin (his right hand man), Fritz Brenner (his live-in chef) and Theodore Horstmann (his orchid man). Other regulars, like Saul Panzer and Fred Durkin, Wolfe's ...more
While certainly better than Fer-De-Lance, I haven't really fallen into the Nero Wolfe cult just yet with this one.

THE BEGINNING--I like the fact that Wolfe seems to be in a dry period business-wise, and that there's always a firm eye on where the penny drops. Too many mystery novels have main characters that are vaguely independently wealthy and just doing this sort of thing for a lark. As for the mystery, there's actually quite a bit of tension here. The first scene where all the men are gathe
Mary Beth Phelps
Jul 15, 2013 Mary Beth Phelps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Originally posted on bibliophyte:

This is the second installment in the Nero Wolfe series and equals the first, Fer-de-Lance, in wit and charm. The plot is perhaps not as fast-paced and the ending feels a tad anti-climactic, but it is certainly original, clever and worth reading. Once again Rex Stout proves his skill in managing large numbers of characters as this story involves a group of thirty men convinced two of their number have been murdered, the re
Bob Mackey
Oct 17, 2014 Bob Mackey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having never read any Stout before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but 300 pages later, I'm primed to dive into another Nero Wolfe mystery. I've read my share of stories featuring so-called gentlemen detectives, but Wolfe definitely stands out above the rest thanks to his unique construction. Mystery protagonists tend to be lovable eccentrics, but I haven't really encountered anything like Stout's creation before: Nero Wolfe is a 400-pound amateur sleuth who loves eating (obviously), tendin ...more
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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 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)
  • The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe, #11)

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“Wolfe was drinking beer and looking at pictures of snowflakes in a book someone had sent him from Czechoslovakia...
...Wolfe seemed absorbed in the pictures. Looking at him, I said to myself, "He's in a battle with the elements. He's fighting his way through a raging blizzard, just sitting there comfortably looking at pictures of snowflakes. That's the advantage of being an artist, of having imagination." I said aloud, "You mustn't go to sleep, sir, it's fatal. You freeze to death.”
“A man may debar nonsense from his library of reason, but not from the arena of his impulses.” 19 likes
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