Trudy's Reviews > Fer-de-Lance

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
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Jun 26, 08

Read in June, 2008

This book was my introduction to the mystery genre, which I really haven't read since I was a kid reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. This is the first book of the 70+ Nero Wolfe mysteries that Rex Stout wrote, but apparently Rex Stout combatted the necessity for reading his books in sequence by making the characters never change. I just like to read books in the order in which they were written if the characters are the same ones in subsequent books.

The narrator is Archie Goodwin, the assistant/secretary to Nero Wolfe, a corpulent gourmand and orchid grower who almost never leaves his NYC brownstone yet knows human nature and acknowledges his own genius. Wolfe sends Archie, who lives in the same NYC house, along with Fritz the Swiss gourmet cook, out on his detecting errands, and then receives reports from him, which he adds to his own cerebral abilities, aided by telephone and book research. He also has Archie invite/bring various perplexed and sometimes hostile people to the house, some of whom he entertains with Fritz's wonderful meals, so he can question and inspect them himself. The reason these guests are given for the necessity for them to go to Wolfe rather than him to them is that he's "an eccentric." And he's famous enough that they pretty much all oblige him, though often not without initial resistance.

It's a delightful world we're allowed into, and it's fun to be a part of the endearing and funny relationships of Archie, Fritz and Wolfe. As one member of my book club put it, this book is the kind of summer reading that is "candy."
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