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(Nero Wolfe #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  11,782 ratings  ·  712 reviews
As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. As for Wolfe, he's playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda -- whis ...more
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published July 21st 2010 by Crimeline (first published October 1934)
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Sarah W I was able to get it as an ebook from my local library. You could try the same.
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,782 ratings  ·  712 reviews

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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
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Golden Age mystery fans
Back with a couple of old friends! I may not remember which of the Nero Wolfe mysteries I read *mumble* around thirty five years ago, but I remember Archie's cheeky insouciance and Nero's eccentricities. There is real affection in their relationship;

He always thought he had a handkerchief in the breast pocket of his coat, but rarely did, so I went to the drawer where I kept a stack for him and got one and handed it to him.

But there is never any doubt who is boss!. Archie may give a bit of li
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining, but Slightly Unbelievable, Mystery/Crime Novel

Maybe it has to do with the year the book takes place, 1933.

But let's just say that certain things that happened in the book (I won't reveal them because they are spoilers) would not have been possible today.

Maybe they were in 1933.

After all, Prohibition had just been repealed, so the atmosphere was kind of rough-and-ready.

I also found it slightly mind-blowing that the author flat out tells us who the murderer is half way through the b
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mystery itself is solid, but this lumbers along at a slow pace, and has more pages than are probably needed to tell this story, so that took some of the enjoyment out of it for me. This is my first Nero Wolfe novel, and Nero's character is not fully understandable to me based on just reading this novel. I understand he is a obese genius, but I am not sure if he is just lazy (refusing to ever leave his home and making Archie do all the legwork) or if he has a mental disorder that leaves him i ...more
Jason Koivu
I'm givin' this sucka three stars, seeee?! Ya wanna make somethin' of it, tough guy?...Yeah, that's what I thought.

Actually, Fre-de-Lance by Rex Stout is more cerebral than tough-guy as far as detective fiction goes. Oh sure, there's some strong-arm scenes and a line like "Don't try no funny stuff, ya got me pal-y?" wouldn't be out of place here. However, as many of those you find, you'll discover just as many classical allusions and erudite quotables.

This is in great part due to the eccentric
Generally I bump up the first book in a good series by 1 star, but I won't in this case. I'm glad I didn't start with it since it was at least 1/3 too long. The other stories I've listened to didn't seem nearly as bloated. Still, it was a good mystery & I really liked the way Stout made it feel as if it was more in the middle of the series. Archie has worked for Wolfe for 7 years & many other details added to the feel.

One downside to this was that although I downloaded it from the librar
3.5 Stars

This is the first novel in the Nero Wolfe series and was originally published in 1934. For those who are not familiar with the series a brief introduction... Nero Wolfe is an eccentric genius who lives in a brownstone on 35th Street in New York. He rarely leaves his home where he eats gourmet meals prepared by his personal chef and tends his orchids. Archie Goodwin is Wolfe's assistant and legman. Where Wolfe is urbane and cultured Goodwin is witty and more the hard boiled detective you
Jun 18, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-read, mystery
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
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I was a bit let-down given the popularity of the Nero Wolfe series. Well-written, well-crafted mystery. I don't want to spend one more minute with Archie, the narrator. If the story was told in the third-person, I'd probably read a few more over the years. As it is, the 1930’s slang of a less-educated sidekick was not an appealing place to live for the week or so it took me to read this.
Jul 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having been a lover of mysteries most of my life, there are some characters that crop up again and again. Nero Wolfe is one of them and yet, for some reason, I had never tried any books featuring this classic fictional investigator and decided to give the series a try. “Fer-De-Lance,” is the first book in the series; although the characters seem quite settled, even at this stage, and there are references to past events which means that you feel you are already in a settled series.

Published in 19
Huck Finn
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wolfe was more talkative than I remember from the other books! But the main thing I noticed was that this first book in the series reads as if it is from the middle of the series, in the sense that Wolfe & all his cohorts are presented as having been together for a while and this is just one more case. I guess I was expecting something like A Study in Scarlet, explaining how the "gang" got together. Glad I read/listened to it but it isn't as good as some of the other books in the series...

Jill Hutchinson
This is the book that started Nero Wolfe on his career. See my comments on "Full House" for review.

I decided to take a break and do a re-read of the first book of the Nero Wolfe corpus....the book that started my obsession with that character. It may not be the best of the 40+ books, of which I have read all but four, but it is the beginning sketch of the Wolfe and Archie relationship, one of fiction's greatest duos. It also shows how the household on W35th Street changed
Rebecca McNutt
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the nostalgia of classic crime novels, but with a few new modern additions to make this eerie little serphant-centric mystery stand out as creative, original and suspenseful.
Abigail Bok
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first reading of a Nero Wolfe novel, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, though the characters are not really ones I would seek out. I was impressed with the author’s pithy language: one of the things I hold against noir is its relentless fealty to cliché, and Stout’s writing feels like noir but uses a lot of surprising but apt imagery.

For those unfamiliar with the Nero Wolfe detective series, Wolfe is a morbidly obese New York City recluse with a passion for beer, orchids, and mysteries.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I put this on my wish list some 5 years ago when I thought I might be in the mood to read some mysteries. At the time, I was remembering a TV series starring Timothy Hutton and Maury Chaykin and a cast of repertory players. I loved the series - not just the stories, which were terrific, but it was very cinematic and it was fun to see the supporting actors in differing roles where they were almost unrecognizable from the role they had last played.

Today I am wondering what took me so long to read
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
Jun 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
BOOK 230 - Mid-20th Century North American Crime Readathon - Round 10
HOOK - 3 stars: I liked the title, first of all: the reader knows the murder weapon (or, at least, one of them). Then, we first meet Nero Wolfe who decides to cut down from six quarts of bootleg beer a day to five and is testing 49 varieties. Naturally, a lovely young lady knocks on his front door: her brother has disappeared. What to do? Meet with the young lady, drink more beer, or tend to his orchids in the greenhouse atop h
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
I'd been thinking about revisiting this favorite sleuthing duo for a while, and decided to take the plunge after seeing a review of this first in the series here on GR. Decades ago, I read many of the 33 books and short stories penned by Rex Stout starting in 1934 and loved them. I've lost sight of the tiny little paperbacks I read back in the day, so I decided to listen this time around. Everything I enjoyed back then held true for me today and just confirmed why these books have held up so wel ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just adding a note in January 2017 to the start of my review from 2015 to say I clearly liked this book more than I thought I did at the time, as I've gone on to read several more Rex Stout books since and now want to read them all! I also now love his writing style. The rest of this is my original review:

I'd heard good things about Rex Stout, but must admit I was rather disappointed with this book, the first in his classic series about overweight detective Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goo
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rex Stout's writing was sharp, witty and very descriptive. You're a fly on the wall observing the interplay between the inhabitants of the brownstone and it is a wonderful view! I enjoyed listening to this story and will definitely read and reread this series, especially concentrating on the stories by
Rex Stout. Robert Goldsborough does an excellent job of capturing the relationship of Archie and Nero, but one can't beat the original Mr. Stout. The acerbic remarks of Archie to Nero is why Mr. S
Helga Cohen
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is the first book in the classic Nero Wolfe series. It introduces the eccentric but genius Nero Wolfe who lives in an old brownstone in New York. He rarely leaves home and eats gourmet meals prepared by his chef and tends to his huge selection of orchids. We are also introduced to Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s assistant. He does all the leg work and is a witty detective.

This story revolves around the murders of an Italian immigrant and wealthy college professor. The plot is quirky but intriguing
This read was a bit dated (as it was written in 1934) however that did not take away from it being a well-constructed mystery. Wolfe reminded me a bit of Sherlock Holmes with his logical deductions based on information he's gathered, especially given he never leaves his office. The story was told through Archie Goodwin, who is Wolfe's assistance and who serves as the moderator.
Art (Posting elsewhere as Whistler Reads)
Holy Cow!!! What a find. The fore and after blurbs to this edition revealing info about the books and their author were almost as riveting as the incomparable mystery itself.
Altho this was the first book (of 73) in a series, it left the reader feeling thrown into the middle. The only author whom I have been reading lately that does an equal job of establishing a sense of PLACE, of CIRCUMSTANCE, with description, with word choices, would be Nora Roberts ...
When I’m driving I don’t see much of any
Tom Brosz
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first Nero Wolfe novel I've read -- and now I never have to read another one.

There is some incredibly sharp writing here: razor-edged dialogue and shockingly vivid turns of phrase. But there is also a thick and slimy coat of racism, including racist slurs I'd never even heard of before. Wow! Just the education I wanted!

But the worst sin, when it comes to a sprawling old-timey mystery series, is that I don't care about either of the main characters. There is nothing here that makes me interes
Jamie Collins
Jul 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
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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

Other books in the series

Nero Wolfe (1 - 10 of 47 books)
  • 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)
  • The Silent Speaker (Nero Wolfe, #11)
“[A] pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.” 85 likes
“As long as I live I'll never forget the time he had a bank president pinched, or rather I did, on no evidence whatever except that the fountain pen on his desk was dry. I was never so relieved in my life as when the guy shot himself an hour later.” 4 likes
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