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The Red Box (1937)

by Rex Stout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Nero Wolfe (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7971927,314 (3.81)80
A lovely woman is dead, and the fortunes of overextended theatrical producer Llewellyn Frost depend on solving the mystery of the red box: two pounds of candied fruits, nuts and creams, covered with chocolate--and laced with potassium cyanide. When Nero Wolfe's suspicion falls on Frost's kissing cousin, Frost wants the detective to kill the sickly sweet case--before it kills him. Introduction by Carolyn G. Hart   "It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore."--The New York Times Book Review   A grand master of the form, Rex Stout is one of America's greatest mystery writers, and his literary creation Nero Wolfe is one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. Together, Stout and Wolfe have entertained--and puzzled--millions of mystery fans around the world. Now, with his perambulatory man-about-town, Archie Goodwin, the arrogant, gourmandizing, sedentary sleuth is back in the original seventy-three cases of crime and detection written by the inimitable master himself, Rex Stout.… (more)
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» See also 80 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
2½ stars. While I enjoyed this, especially the beginning where Wolfe actually leaves his brownstone, I found the plot a tad weak. The solution seemed pretty obvious to me well before the end... ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
Moving right along in my shared chronological re-read of the Nero Wolfe series with Liz and Steve, we are up to Book 4. The recurring characters' are starting to assume the shape and personality that they would wear for the remaining 43 books, which makes this the first story that recalls for me at least a little of the familiar warm feelings I have for this, my most favorite series of all time.

The plot finds rotund genius Nero actually leaving his beloved New York City brownstone on business, a thing that almost never happens. Readers get a taste of how he feels about the idea from this response to his prospective client's suggestion that he visit the scene of the crime:

" 'Sir, I would not enter a taxicab for a chance to solve the Sphinx's deepest riddle with all the Nile's cargo as my reward!" He sank his voice to an outraged murmur. 'Good God. A taxicab.' "

The client prevails (though with Archie at the wheel, not a NYC cabbie), and Wolfe begins a desultory investigation into the poisoning of a fashion model. The death blow was delivered in a box of candy, but was Molly Lauck the intended target, or did she bite the Jordan almond meant for someone else? ( )
  rosalita | Oct 12, 2022 |
Nero Wolfe has a plethora of clients in his latest case involving the death of a fashion model from eating a poisoned chocolate. Llewellyn Frost hires Wolfe, even managing to lure him out of his brownstone to interview suspects in their natural habitat. Frost wants to protect his cousin Helen, another model who witnessed the death. After a second murder, Frost gets cold feet, so Helen hires Wolfe to carry on with the investigation. At a certain point, it becomes clear that a red box holds the solution to the murders. But where is the box?

Wolfe’s exceptional powers of deduction exasperate his assistant Archie, Inspector Cramer of the police, and perhaps most readers. He holds his cards close to his chest, yet there are enough clues for a perceptive reader to guess the motive for the murder and the murderer’s identity. Wolfe, Goodwin, and Inspector Cramer make references to the cases in the earlier books in the series, but not in a spoilery way. It’s savvy marketing that might nudge readers to buy the earlier books to find out what they missed! ( )
  cbl_tn | Sep 11, 2022 |
This might be the first time we see Wolfe leaving the office for a client but I don't think it will happen much. The story is centering around young heiress Helen Frost who is about to become an adult as people around here start dying.
( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
The Red Box (1937) (Nero Wolfe #4) by Rex Stout. Fashion models are supposed to watch what they eat. And candy is strictly verboten. So when Molly Lauck dies after eating a piece it is only fitting, in a macabre sort of way, that she died. Wolfe is contacted by the wealthy Mr. Frost and coerced into both looking into the death and actually leaving the brownstone to do so. A letter signed by the directors of the New York Orchid Show produces about the only type of pressure that could be applied to the big man.
Wolfe and Goodwin go to the fashion boutique where they interview the owner, Boyden McNair and several other people who work there including Mr. Frost’s cousin, Helen. McNair has come to the realization that the poisoned chocolate was meant for him. Helen manages to implicate herself in the murder. Mr. Frost wants to have Wolfe stop the investigation as do Helen’s relatives.
As if!
McNair seeks an audience with Wolfe at the brownstone and falls dead during the interview. He was poisoned. Prior to dying the doomed man informs Wolfe of his feelings of impending tragedy and tells the detective that, as he is the only person about him he trusts, McNair has made Wolfe the executor for his estate. An outraged Wolfe will now do anything in his power to discover the secrets that McNair was in the process of revealing. One item, a red leather box, becomes the crux of the investigation.
Wolfe also learns that Helen is the sole heir to the Frost family fortune when she turns 21, in a few days. And then there is the mystery of why Helen’s mother was not named as inheritor when her father died.
As in many mysteries, the past looms large in the story. And herein blackmail also plays a major role. And when a mysterious package arrives at Wolfe’s office, he gathers all the suspects together. As one they discuss what has happened in the past, the true relationships among the family, and the red leather box is produced giving a reason for the next sudden death.
A gripping, twisty tale and very fun. ( )
  TomDonaghey | Jun 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rex Stoutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hart, Carolyn G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehtonen, ReijoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prichard, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wolfe looked at our visitor with his eyes wide open - a sign, with him, either of indifference or of irritation. In this case it was obvious that he was irritated.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

A lovely woman is dead, and the fortunes of overextended theatrical producer Llewellyn Frost depend on solving the mystery of the red box: two pounds of candied fruits, nuts and creams, covered with chocolate--and laced with potassium cyanide. When Nero Wolfe's suspicion falls on Frost's kissing cousin, Frost wants the detective to kill the sickly sweet case--before it kills him. Introduction by Carolyn G. Hart   "It is always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore."--The New York Times Book Review   A grand master of the form, Rex Stout is one of America's greatest mystery writers, and his literary creation Nero Wolfe is one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. Together, Stout and Wolfe have entertained--and puzzled--millions of mystery fans around the world. Now, with his perambulatory man-about-town, Archie Goodwin, the arrogant, gourmandizing, sedentary sleuth is back in the original seventy-three cases of crime and detection written by the inimitable master himself, Rex Stout.

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Book description
Rear Cover Intro from Pyramid Books Sixth Printing May 1972:
ARCHIE GOODWIN’S THE NAME
I’m the hard-hitting, good-looking sidekick of a beer-drinking, orchid-fancying giant genius of a detective named Nero Wolfe. Wolfe and I have worked on some pretty weird cases. This one I call –
THE RED BOX MURDERS
A beautiful model who should have been watching her figure never dreamed that one little piece of candy could kill her. But it did. And her untimely death put Nero Wolfe in line for the supreme insult of his career — another murder, right in his own home. He had to solve the case to save his pride. But the only clue was an odd red box — and, oddly enough, that had disappeared!
Inside Cover Text:
Orchids are his pride and passion; detection is his forte. He rarely moves his enormous person from his luxurious brownstone. He’s Rex Stout’s peerless solver of crimes
Nero Wolfe

Ably abetted by his quick-thinking, rugged cosleuth, Archie Goodwin, the noble detector of murderous motives and games of foul play takes on the case of a high-fashion corpse to
Save his reputation
in
The Red Box
A mind-boggling gem of mystery and detection!
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Legacy Library: Rex Stout

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