Friday, July 2, 2010

Opening Sentence of the Day: Fer-de-Lance



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.

-- Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout.

This is a really great first sentence because it establishes that there are at least three characters in Nero Wolfe's world -- Wolfe, the narrator, and whoever was sent for the beer -- that there is some history as detectives, even though this is the very first Nero Wolfe novel, and they drink beer. I love it.

I have been on a classic mystery series jag for awhile. I recently started Dorthy L. Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey series, P. D. James's Adam Dalgliesh series, and now Rex Stout's famous Nero Wolfe series. I cannot believe that I have never read any of these before. But my dereliction means I can start at the beginning of each series and read them in order.



NOTE

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a Friday fun "opening sentence" event hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Post the opening sentence of the book(s) you started this week and see what other books people have going.

12 comments :

Kathy Martin said...

I think there are actually two viewpoints. Archie Goodwin is the narrator and the man who was sent for the beer. I remember going through a Nero Wolfe binge a while ago and reading the whole series. They were very nice is a misogynistic sort of way. Happy reading!

Terri B. said...

I love classic mysteries! My husband has quite a few of the Nero Wolfe's. I haven't read any of them yet, but I have seen some of the TV series (Masterpiece Theatre?).

Rose City Reader said...

Kathy -- I see your point. But Archie is inside and goes out to help unload the beer when the other guy pulls up in the car. I think I am at the beginning of a binge -- I see it coming on.

Terri -- These old mysteries really appeal to me right now. If I didn't have a stack of "guilt" books I felt like I had to read, I would stick to them like glue.

Kristen M. said...

This is one of the series that I need to start at some point. I have a few other ones that I want to wrap up/catch up first though. Otherwise it gets a bit overwhelming. I need to keep more organized lists like you have!

Rose City Reader said...

Kristen -- The lists don't always help. They give a false sense of security, or at least of progress. :)

Birdie said...

Oh, I do really like the Nero Wolfe stories!
I hope you enjoy these.
Don't forget to check around online too, because there are fantastic radio versions of some of the cases. Sydney Greenstreet is one of the best Nero Wolfes ever!

Becky (Page Turners) said...

Great opening line, I will keep my eye out for this book. I have been reading a lot more mystery and crime novels at the moment, I think its the cold weather that makes me want to cozy up with a crime book :-)

Nan said...

Archie is the one sent for beer. Wolfe drinks beer, while Archie (mostly) drinks milk. Archie does most of the legwork while Wolfe sits and thinks. Wolfe does leave the brownstone occasionally, but not too often. It's all these errands involving long walks that keep Archie in shape so he can eat all the food Fritz makes without him getting large like Wolfe. :<) I see you have the audio version. Michael P. is the BEST narrator. He makes the listener believe that he IS Archie. I love this series beyond words.

Rose City Reader said...

Birdie -- That's funny, because I pictured Wolfe as Sidney Greenstreet. He's perfect.

Becky -- The idea that it is now cold in Australia is one of those concepts that I understood as a child but cannot get my head around as an adult. So, do you call this time of year "summer" but summer is cold? Or do you call it "winter"?

Nan -- I totally missed that it was Archie. I thought it was the other helper guy, the one who lives across the hall from the room with the orchids. That's one problem with audio books -- it isn't easy to flip back. But the narrator is fantastic.

Rose City Reader said...

Kathy and Nan -- You two made me doubt my reading comprehension skills! So I went back and listened. The opening sentence does refer to three people -- Archie the narrator, Wolfe, and (unnamed) Fritz, who went out for beer. The second sentence is, "But it was Fritz who was sent for the beer." I swear, you two were in cahoots to Gaslight me. :O)

Bob said...

Haven't read a Nero Wolfe in AGES. I remember being very fond of them. You've inspired me -- I'll have to pick one up again. (I've also read most of the Dick Francis mysteries, which you've talked about recently. I think the best ones were the early ones, the first eight or nine, which came on like a rush -- all the same plot, basically, but they were lean and mean and urgent. I like the later ones, too, but they're more discursive: He'd learn about something that interested him, like architecture or the wine trade, and a lot of the book would be given over to the cool things he learned during his research.)

Rose City Reader said...

Bob -- Glad to be an inspiration! I agree about Dick Francis. The first one I read was one of his earlier ones, and it definitely had an energy that some of the later ones don't. I have also enjoyed the later ones, but you are right, you can tell when he is riding a new hobby horse. It's fun when I am interested in the hobby -- I am looking forward to the wine one you mention -- but Second Wind was all about METEOROLOGY.

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