The first in the fabled Nero Wolfe series, in which we meet the great detective himself and his enterprising assistant, Archie Goodwin.
The plot: a university president suddenly dies while participating in a foursome of golf. His doctor immediately pronounces it as a heart attack, but it turns out to be a fiendishly clever murder. Wolfe and Archie are hired (more or less, sometimes less as the client has second thoughts) to find the murderer. And they do, in a combination of brilliant logical deduction (Wolfe) and tough-guy, fast-talking investigation (Archie).
These are clearly dated (late 1930s); Archie is no Harry Bosch or Rebus or Jack Reacher, but the combination of the obese detective and the street-wise (but gourmand) American is a marvel. As has been pointed out before, the series is modeled on the Sherlock Holmes stories, although Archie is not the bumbling Watson by any means. Still, the West 35th Street house is much like Holme’s Baker Street residence, and Fritz is a fine counterpart to Mrs. Hudson. Holmes had his bees; Wolfe has his orchids. The series is just as much about Wolfe and Archie and their way of life as it is about solving murders