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Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
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Fer-de-Lance (original 1934; edition 1972)

by Rex Stout

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1,102327,523 (3.8)213
Member:dcbartel
Title:Fer-de-Lance
Authors:Rex Stout
Info:Pyramid (1972), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, American Fiction, Murder Mystery, Crime

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Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout (1934)

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English (31)  Finnish (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin make their debut in this installment that has them seeking the murderer of an Italian. Archie has a little cheekier attitude than many literary sidekicks. The mystery itself was mediocre with a pretty obvious conclusion. It is, however, the first in series of a well-regarded literary sleuth. There are references to prior cases in the text which sometimes leave the reader wanting to know more about the inference made. I could have lived without the snake. It's definitely a product of the time it was written. ( )
  thornton37814 | May 16, 2014 |
This mystery was written in the early 20th century. I'm not sure how I feel about it. The plot was okay, the characters were a bit stereotypical. The solution predictable. ( )
  cyderry | Feb 4, 2014 |
At the request of one of Nero Wolfe's sometime employees, Wolfe investigates the disappearance of an Italian immigrant. The police hadn't shown any interest in searching for the missing man when his disappearance was reported to them. Wolfe's investigation leads to a surprising connection with the death of a prominent man. In order to solve the mystery of the missing immigrant, Wolfe must investigate the prominent man's death.

Although this is the first of the Nero Wolfe mysteries, it doesn't read like a first-in-series book. Archie Goodwin, the first-person narrator, has been working for Wolfe for seven years, and he refers to some of their earlier cases. The book was first published during the Depression and there are some indirect references to difficult economic conditions. For instance, when introducing Fred Durkin, the employee who asked Wolfe to look for the missing man, Archie reveals that Durkin's status had been reduced from salaried to hourly on an as-needed basis, while Archie and one other employee had received a pay cut.

Archie Goodwin is one of the most engaging narrators I've come across in crime fiction. He's brighter than Sherlock Holmes' Watson and Hercule Poirot's Hastings, and he's definitely more sarcastic then either of them. If you're one of those Holmes and Poirot readers who secretly wish that Watson and Hastings had a little more backbone, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin just might be the duo for you. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Jan 6, 2014 |
Finding a unique method of murder is a huge challenge for the mystery writer and I must say that while poison is not unique the method in which it was delivered was extremely so. It was a great way to begin a series that has held fans steadfast for 80 years. Wolfe and Goodwin are America's Holmes and Watson and deservedly so. ( )
  mysterymax | Jan 1, 2014 |
Portions reminded me of the pleasure of reading Chandler. Terrific. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stout, Rexprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Estleman, Loren D.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalvas, ReijoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krieger, Ellen E.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McAleer, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prichard, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was no reason why I couldn't have been sent for the beer that day, for the last ends of the Fairmont National Bank case had been gathered in the week before and there was nothing for me to do but errands, and Wolfe never hesitated about running me down to Murray Street for a can of shoe-polish if he happened to need one.
Quotations
Wolfe speaking to the golf club salesman with delusions of superiority......

You know, Mr. Townsend, it is our good fortune that the exigencies of birth and training furnish all of us with opportunities for snobbery. My ignorance of this special nomenclature provided yours; your innocence of the elementary mental processes provides mine.
Archie..............I hated to hear him (Wolfe) curse. It got on my nerves. The reason for that, he told me once, was that whereas in most cases cursing was merely a verbal explosion, with him it was a considered expression of a profound desire.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553278193, Mass Market Paperback)

I've promised myself for the past decade that, when I finally retire, my first major project will be to reread the entire Nero Wolfe canon in chronological order, a worthwhile occupation if ever there was one.

Although entirely different and not nearly as literary as Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer series or the Philip Marlowe novels of Raymond Chandler, the Wolfe saga deserves to be ranked with them as among the finest series of detective stories ever written by an American. Fer-de-lance introduces the brilliant, idiosyncratic, and obese armchair detective to the world and, while it may not be the best book of the series, it provides a wonderful murder set on a golf course and a cast of characters and laundry list of eccentricities that are an integral part of each novel and novella.

Rex Stout has managed to pull off a feat unparalleled to this day: the perfect combination of deductive reasoning--as exemplified by the classic Golden Age writers such as Christie, Sayers, Van Dine, and Queen--with the hard-boiled attitude and dialogue of the more realistic tough guy writers such as Chandler, Macdonald, Hammett, and Robert B. Parker.

The toughness is brought to the books by Wolfe's leg man and amanuensis, Archie Goodwin. The structure and ambience of the books is, quite deliberately, very much like the Sherlock Holmes stories that Stout so admired. The house on West 35th Street is as familiar as the sitting room at 221B Baker Street; his cook Fritz pops up as regularly as Mrs. Hudson; and his irritant, Inspector Cramer of the NYPD, serves the same role as several Scotland Yard detectives, notably Inspector Lestrade, did for Holmes. Fair warning: It is safe to read one Nero Wolfe novel, because you will surely like it. It is extremely unsafe to read three, because you will forever be hooked on the delightful characters who populate these perfect books. --Otto Penzler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:55 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A case of multiple murder sends super sleuth Nero Wolfe and his quick-witted legman Archie Goodwin on a desperate hunt for clues, but they soon discover that they may be getting too close to a killer when someone sends them a fer-de-lance, one of the world's most poisonous snakes, as a deadly "gift."… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

Legacy Library: Rex Stout

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