Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Before Midnight (Nero Wolfe #25)” as Want to Read:
Before Midnight (Nero Wolfe #25)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Before Midnight

(Nero Wolfe #25)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,371 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Cheaters never prosper, but Nero Wolfe encounters one who kills trying. At the Pour Amour perfume riddle contest, a million dollars goes to the contestant who can answer five questions. Someone doesn't like the heat of competition, so he murders the contest founder and steals the answers to the riddles. Now Wolfe has to sniff down a trail of clues that leads disturbingly c ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Bantam (first published October 27th 1955)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Before Midnight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Before Midnight

Lolita by Vladimir NabokovThe Magician's Nephew by C.S. LewisThe Return of the King by J.R.R. TolkienThe Quiet American by Graham GreeneCat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
Best Books of 1955
101 books — 70 voters
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha ChristieThe Laws of Murder by Charles FinchA Murder Is Announced by Agatha ChristieTime's Twisted Arrow by Rysa WalkerThe Clock Strikes Twelve by Patricia Wentworth
Keeping Time
121 books — 42 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,371 ratings  ·  130 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Before Midnight (Nero Wolfe #25)
Bill Kerwin
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it

A five hundred thousand dollar prize is being offered by "Pour Amor" perfume. All the reader has to do is find the five cosmetic-using women described in a series of five quatrains. But then the author of the five quatrains ends up dead, and a paper containing the solution is missing. Nero Wolfe is hired--not to solve the murder--but to find out what happened to the paper. And for once, he and Cramer can work together amicably.

A particularly good entry in this continuing series.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A perfume company held a contest through its advertising agency with the main prize being half a million dollars - we are talking about mid-fifties when this was a serious chunk of cash. The number of contestants was reduced to five people who had to solve five riddles created by a young promising employee by the advertising agency who also had a copy of the answers. The latter was killed and the answers were missing from his body. Nero Wolfe is hired by the agency to find out who took the answe ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
The twenty-fifth book in the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. This story takes place in 1955. An advertising agency has come up with a clever contest for Pour Amour perfume. A million dollar prize for the winner. A series of riddles about woman and cosmetics. The entrants have been whittled down to five finalists and have all been invited to New York. Then the clever ad man who came up with the idea and created the riddles winds up dead. His wallet, which contained the answers to the final riddle ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
As usual, it's not the mystery that is so compelling as it is the witty banter between Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin and, even funnier, are Goodwin's sarcastic thoughts read by us. ...more
I would appreciate it if they would call a halt on all their devoted efforts to find a way to abolish war or eliminate disease or run trains with atoms or extend the span of human life to a couple of centuries, and everybody concentrate for a while on how to wake me up in the morning without my resenting it. It may be that a bevy of beautiful maidens in pure silk yellow very sheer gowns, barefooted, singing Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and scattering rose petals over me would do the trick, but I ...more
Stacie  Haden
I think I may mourn when I'm done with this series. He just doesn't miss. ...more
Sean O
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good Nero Wolfe mystery. It’s the mid 50s, so they watch television. Bizarre.
Perry Whitford
When an arrogant marketing man is found murdered in his apartment and his wallet stolen, five colourful contestants for a half million dollar competition prize are the obvious suspects. The dead man wrote the questions, his wallet contained the answers, a fact which he had foolishly made them aware of.

Wolfe is hired by the three senior members of the marketing firm to find out who stole the answers and to solve their publicity problem but not, as he constantly points out to Crammer and the cops
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Maybe it's because the listening to this audio book was so interrupted; it seemed like every time I'd get into the story someone would just have to talk to me, or the phone would ring. However, the case just didn't engage me. That's not so bad; Wolfe didn't care for it, either. Why he took it is beyond me, even with Archie's badgering. Who cares about a silly perfume contest, anyway? In my experience, these publicity stunts are often fixed from the get-go, in any case. But I digress, as I have b ...more
Oct 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maureen by: patty gates
Shelves: 2011
my third series detective novel review of the night: this one, a nero wolfe mystery. wolfe is a fat gourmande who loves orchids and has his detecting legwork done by his assistant, archie goodwin, who also narrates the novel's action, and in some ways, wolfe and goodwin form two halves of one perfect detective. things i liked about this novel: how saucy archie was in his narration, the loyalty and the test of loyalty between wolfe and goodwin echoed in the plot, the plan for a big reveal at a di ...more
Vicki Cline
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nero-wolfe
A perfume company is running a contest and the five finalists have been flown to New York for the final puzzles. But the person in charge of the questions and answers has been murdered and the list of answers he had is missing. Wolfe is hired, not to solve the murder, but to find out who took the answer sheet. Of course, he does solve the murder, but not until someone dies in his study, during an all-suspect meeting. I like the conversation Wolfe has with one of the contestants, a professor - ve ...more
Luke Meehan
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Standard Stout crime drama, but perhaps a little less charming and more convoluted than most. Abandoning a promising set of characters at the half-way point was a shame, and replacing them with cookie-cutter corporate was very odd. Still, pleasant easy reading.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last year I started filling in the gaps on some of my favorite authors, including Rex Stout, and bought a dozen or so to read in addition to the 40+ I read years ago. It's amazing and a tribute to Stout how entertaining the Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin stories remain several decades later. ...more
Pamela Shropshire
One of my favorite aspects of this series is the time period. I’ve always been a history enthusiast, not necessarily for dates and places, but for what every day life was like. This Wolfe/Archie adventure has Mad Men vibes; a Madison Avenue ad agency is running a massive contest for a perfume company. A series of riddles has been published, once weekly, each riddle is about “a woman recorded in nonfictional history in any of its forms, including biography, as having used cosmetics.” The first pr ...more
Tim Healy
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is really a humdinger of a story. Unusually for Wolfe, it doesn't start with a murder investigation. Rather, it starts with the possible theft of the answers to a group of puzzles worth a possible half million dollars to a prize winner. Wolfe is left to figure out who may have stolen the answers and prevent the theft of the prize money. It's an odd setup, but quickly becomes quite serious. Archie has everything he can handle just trying to help keep Wolfe's schedule the way he likes it and ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is my 2nd Nero Wolf book, and I am choosing in no particular order. I'd give this one 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars for the witty, clever writing. There is a lot of talking by the characters in this one, and it is fairly static. But Archie Goodwin remains a very entertaining, acerbic narrator, and I will keep reading this series. How did I miss it? ...more
COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 249 (of 250)
"No Good" and "Lousy" are scribbled on the title page of this book I checked out of the library. I usually look at that as destruction of someone else's property. And all through the book there are notes like "This makes no sense" and "Nope, doesn't work" and "Nonsense" and even more graphic terms. I really wish I'd heeded that first page warning.
HOOK - 1 star: >>>"Not that our small talk that Tuesday evening in April had any imp
Alexis Neal
Jun 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, mystery
Everyone's talking about the Pour Amour perfume contest . . . and the million dollars in prize money that will be awarded to the lucky winners who can solve the cosmetics-related riddles put out by the company. The contest has been a roaring success. The five finalists are assembled in New York City, and the last five riddles have been distributed. Everything's going swimmingly . . . until the contest creator winds up dead, and the list of answers he had in his pocket is nowhere to be found. So ...more
Christopher Rush
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This Nero Wolfe adventure is a mixed bag: the initial idea of Wolfe getting embroiled in a perfume contest is great, especially as there is a murder but he has to convince Cramer and others he is not interested in the murder aspect of the case (truly) - then, though, the story really screeches to a halt toward the middle during the "interviewing suspects" phase. Don't get me wrong, it's filled with quirky characters, but I suspect the dearth of Cramer time drags it down a bit, as clever as the e ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Of course it another "A" from me from my favorite mystery author and his inimitable creations Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. In this tale, a perfume company is offering a million dollar prize contest in which the contestants have to guess the identity of famous/infamous women described in verse. The questions get harder as the contest proceeds and there are now five individuals left in the competition. New questions will be given to them with a deadline to submit their answers. The creator of th ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rex Stout's "Before Midnight" (first published in 1955) is the 25th book in his "Nero Wolfe" series. It's another excellent one: great writing and characterizations, and an interesting mystery. As an interesting aside, it struck me once again during this book how good Rex Stout's writing is. Every person has his own personality, and every event is wonderfully described. Heck, every sentence is wonderfully crafted. So, I'm happy to rate the book at an Excellent 5 stars out of 5. ...more
Alan Lengel
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is my 5th reading over many years of Rex Stout. I especially enjoy when Saul Panzer, Orie Cather, Fred Durkin arrive to resolve difficulties. Bill Gore didn't last. Thanks to my wife for hooking me up to Nero Wolfe some forty years ago. ...more
Christine Francis
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Probably my least fav. Nero Wolf book of all, so far. Indistinguishable & uninteresting characters, and such a complicated plot, i still don't really get how or why the crimes were committed. ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
I'm still confused. Wolf lied to Archie but didn't and he told everyone that he didn't do something, but he did. Yeah, he exposed a murderer at the end, but that wasn't his job. What a story! ...more
Cody McCoy
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another outstanding NW mystery. The riddles and literary allusions were an extra bit of fun!
Pam Newell
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As always with Nero Wolfe stories, a great read I couldn’t put down until the end.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy an adventure with the bombastic genius detective Nero Wolfe and his smart-alecky confidential secretary/legman Archie Goodwin. A foreword by Robert Crais illustrating the relationship between the two made it all the more enjoyable.
In Rex Stout’s novel “Before Midnight,” Wolfe is hired by an ad agency to find out who stole a wallet containing the answers of a perfume contest worth a million dollar-prize from the dead contest creator, and find a way that the murder and theft doesn’t
Rick Mills
Ad agency LBA is running a contest for their client, Heery Products, makers of cosmetics. Contestants solve questions identifying women in history. The questions are written by Louis Dahlmann. The contest is down to the final five contestants, when Dahlmann is found dead shortly after mentioning to the contestants that he keeps a copy of the answers in his wallet - which is now missing.

LBA (consisting of Vernon Assa, Patrick O'Garro, and Oliver Buff ) and their attorney Rudolph Hanson, hire Wolf
I don't really know what to say about this book. The mystery was well done and kept me engaged through most of it, because I wanted to know who the culprit was. This was my first Rex Stout novel, so it was interesting to meet Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, although they strongly reminded me of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson; the only difference was that Nero Wolfe apparently never moves far from home and does all his detecting in his head and home.

Despite all this, the book left me a bit unsat
Jan 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Perhaps it is an historical appreciation for the times in which this novel was penned one needs to fully embrace Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. This orchid loving, mercurial, aficionado of food was quite a flat character in this tale, and frequently he was on radio silence while thinking about how to solve the murder of the founder of a perfume contest. Narrated by his assistant Archie whose penchant for giving the young ladies exactly what they need (hello inspiration for #MeToo movement!) must have b ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Murder in E Minor (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #1)
  • Archie Meets Nero Wolfe: A Prequel to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries)
  • Archie in the Crosshairs (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries)
  • Fade to Black (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries)
  • Murder, Stage Left (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #12)
  • The Battered Badge
  • Death on Deadline (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #2)
  • Stop the Presses! (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries)
  • Silver Spire (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #6)
  • The Missing Chapter (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries)
  • The Last Coincidence (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #4)
  • Archie Goes Home (The Nero Wolfe Mysteries Book 15)
  • Death of an Art Collector (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #14)
  • The Bloodied Ivy (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #3)
  • The Case of the Mythical Monkeys (Perry Mason, #59)
  • The Siamese Twin Mystery (Ellery Queen Detective, #7)
  • Murder in the Ball Park (Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries #9)
  • The Adventures of Ellery Queen
See similar books…
Rex Todhunter Stout (1886 – 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 Best Mystery Series of t

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)

Related Articles

We all have our reading bucket lists. James Mustich's 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die is bound to seriously expand that list...
115 likes · 55 comments
“No man should tell a lie unless he is shrewd enough to recognize the time for renouncing it, if and when it comes, and knows how to renounce it gracefully.” 8 likes
“Dignities are like faces; no two are the same.” 4 likes
More quotes…