Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review of the Day: Fer-de-Lance

Fer-de-Lance is Rex Stout's first Nero Wolfe mystery and everything it is cracked up to be. I am torn between being appalled at myself for not reading the entire series earlier and giddy that I have the whole series to look forward to.

This first mystery introduces the portly genius and establishes him as an orchard-growing, beer-drinking eccentric who stays inside his New York brownstone while his intrepid sidekick, Archie Goodwin, does the legwork.  Stout creates intriguing context for the duo with several references to prior cases and earlier fame.

In this case, Wolfe is asked to find a missing Italian immigrant and ends up solving the murder of a golf-playing college president.  Throughout, Wolfe's somewhat pompous self-aggrandizement is balanced by Goodwin's wise-cracking narration.  The book is funny and clever and the plot itself is even pretty good, in a vintage, 1934 kind of way.

I am looking forward to the other 46 Nero Wolfe novels. I see another list coming on . . .

(If you would like your review of this or any other Rex Stout book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


  1. I just picked this one up two days ago! I watched the tv series a few years ago and loved Nero and Archie. I can't wait to start this series too!

  2. Rex Stout is great! And Archie rocks. Glad you've discovered him. It is a good feeling when you discover a new author with a whole series of books to work through.

  3. I'm a huge Nero Wolfe fan but I didn't get to Fer-de-Lance for a few years. It was totally great, though. I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope you will continue with the series, it's wonderful.

  4. Whoa!
    With 46 more from Rex Stout, and all the other books on your TBR list, all you need is one more, right?

    But I noticed that you like Cara Black's work.

    And Cara and I share a publisher (Soho Crime) and a blog.

    So maybe you'll like my books as well. The fourth in the series in coming out in December, but I'll have advance review copies next week.

    May I send you one?

    Our blog, by the way, can be found at:

    We're six authors of "international" mysteries and each of us posts once a week. We don't write about our books, or the craft of writing, but concentrate on the historical/physical/social aspects of the countries in which our stories are set. And we keep one day a week open for some pretty interesting guests.

  5. Kristen -- I need another series like a hole in the head, but this one really appeals to me.

    Bev -- I do like discovering a new series because it pushes back the completely irrational fear I have of running out of books. :)

    Nicole -- I am going to try to read them in order. But do you think that is necessary? Some series are better that way, and some it doesn't matter.

    Leighton -- Thanks for visiting. I just went and looked at your terrific blog and signed up as a follower. Your mystery series sounds terrific! I'll even break my compulsive habit of reading a series in order to read your latest.

  6. Totally not necessary. There is progression in terms of characters and also the decade they are set in, and it would probably be enjoyable to read them in order. But I don't think I've suffered at all and I've read them completely at random.


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