My Review of Fer-de-Lance

Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe, #1)

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is where it all started, the very first of the Nero Wolfe novels (referred to as The Corpus by dedicated fans). Most of the characters we come to know and love are here at the beginning: Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, Fritz Brenner, Saul Panzer, and so on. But they are not quite fully inked in yet. Wolfe is more loquacious than he will be in the future, and Archie has a lot of rough edges, including the use of racial slurs. But the standard elements are here. Wolfe has an ability to question people at great length and pull out clues you wouldn’t expect, he never leaves the house, he drinks beer, he is a gourmet with a chef on staff, and he grows orchids. Archie has a perfect memory for conversations that he can repeat verbatim, which is useful for Wolfe since he never goes out himself. And Archie can somehow get anyone Wolfe wants to interview to come to the Brownstone house.

The mystery involves a possible connection between a missing Italian metal worker and the death of a college President on the gold course. It is a perfectly good mystery, but the real attraction is the characters. The residents of the Brownstone house are what keeps bringing us back.

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