Fer-de-Lance, by Rex Stout

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

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  • Anne S.

    Well we certainly enjoyed discussing the book, but the restaurant got a bit loud at about 8:30. Food was good though. A bit underspiced but good

    April 13

  • Michelle

    Just a terrific way to start a new series, and it didn't feel like a first. Plenty of good 1930s NYC atmosphere, being from the time, and it surrounded the reader beautifully. Knowing the killer half-way in was part of the enjoyment - how will Wolfe get him? And as someone commented, every character was recognizable by the way their sentences hit the page. Great read.

    April 12

  • Maria T.

    Good re-read.

    April 11

  • Laura B.

    Interesting

    April 11

  • A former member
    A former member

    You are absolutely correct. I had no idea that William Conrad played Wolfe. I only knew him as Cannon.

    March 22, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I believe Conrad played Cannon.

    March 20, 2014

    • Maria T.

      Maybe I'm I really getting them mixed up. Wasn't there one where Lee Hornsby played Archie or am I totally off?

      March 22, 2014

  • Maria T.

    Sorry. I meant the Robert Goldsboro book about nero wolfe

    March 19, 2014

  • Maria T.

    I enjoyed the Hutton series but I also enjoyed the William Conrad series. Has anyone read the new Goldberg's Nero Wolfe?

    March 19, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I've read them all, and I was a regular watcher of the tv series w Tim Hutton.

    March 13, 2014

  • Michelle

    My RSVP's actually a Maybe, but there's a good chance I"ll make it. As to the book, with all the installments of the series I've read for the sheer fun of them, I can't believe how unfamiliar this one sounds.

    March 13, 2014

    • Anne S.

      I think that the three-in-one novellas were the more popular ones. I remember them much better as they were easier ( and faster) to read again

      March 13, 2014

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