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02 June, 2019

#BookReview :: Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe #1) by Rex Stout




As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadfully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. As for Wolfe, he's playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda -- whistling a seductive tune he hopes will catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart.



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A couple of my fellow bookworms have recommended this series to me a number of times, but I haven’t had the chance to read it before this year. In fact, I got my hands on my first Rex Stout novel around mid-May and in the two weeks since then, I have already read three more Nero Wolfe stories. 

Fer-de-Lance introduces Nero Wolfe, a Yugoslavian immigrant and Archie Goodwin, his American sidekick. There are two murders – one victim is a brother of a maid in Park Avenue and the second victim is a college professor.  The profiles of the victims are very different, yet the murders seem to be the handiwork of a single person. What is the connection between the two victims and why were they murdered? And wait, why did someone send Nero a fer-de-lance? 

Nero is extremely lazy and likes to stay within the confines of his home. He loves gourmet food and orchids and as such has employed a personal chef and a gardener to do his bidding. However, he is extremely good at solving mysteries that confound most people; it is how he manages to maintain his lifestyle. Archie balances out the character of Nero by doing all the leg work and bringing in wit and charm to the books. When Nero’s brain is combined with Archie’s street smarts, they make a formidable team. 

Somehow, I feel if Mycroft ever decided to open a detective agency – the result would be what we get from the Nero Wolfe Series. The author’s language is succinct and the narrative style is engaging. That combined with the characters and a whodunit plot, this book was a complete package that kept me glued to its pages for a solid couple of hours. A racy start to a promising series that every mystery/whodunit aficionado should give a try. 


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