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Fer-de-Lance Mass Market Paperback – Jan 21 1997


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crimeline; Reprint edition (Jan. 21 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553278193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553278194
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.1 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 200 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #304,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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

Review

"Fer-de-Lance will be welcomed by the legions of Rex Stout fans, and serve as welcome introduction to a whole new generation of mystery buffs." -- The Midwest Book Review, May 1997

"I've noticed books by Rex Stout (1886-1975) for many years but never have purchased or read one. You know, so many books, so little time. I've been missing the company of the ever-eccentric Nero Wolfe and his faithful legman, Archie Goodwin...I don't want to tell you too much about this classic tale and spoil your fun. This version is expertly performed by Michael Prichard, who has also brought novels by Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy to life." -- Jim Clark, Publisher

"In the annals of eccentric private detectives, one of the most famous is Nero Wolfe. Wolfe is an obese, misanthropic, arrogant orchid fancier who solves mysteries while never leaving his New York brownstone. His eyes and ears to the world is Archie Goodwin, the narrator of the books. In this well-read audio edition of Stout's first Wolfe novel, Goodwin is asked to find out who murdered a young Italian immigrant. The path leads to upscale Westchester County and to the body of a recently deceased philanthropist who has a crazy wife, a jealous son, and a beautiful daughter. Throw into the mix an attempt on Wolfe's life using a poisonous snake and the listener is entertained with a 1934 period mystery that is remarkably fresh." -- The Roanoke Times, November 16, 1997

"It is always a treat to [hear] a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore." -- The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Nero Wolfe series is absolutely outstanding, and this book serves as a good introduction for it. The plot concerns an Italian immigrant and a university president who have just been killed. Although there seems to be no link between the two, Wolfe discovers it and exploits it to expose a killer.

Don't expect an Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes plot for this novel--Stout wrote good mysteries, but his gems are in his characters. Wolfe, the overweight, orchid-loving, car-fearing gourmand, and his sidekick Archie, the epitome of the 1930's fast-talking, sarcastic detective, are lovable right from the beginning. Although Stout still has a few details to work out, the set-up is the same in this book as it is in the last. That isn't to say Stout didn't improve it--he didn't have to; it was perfect from the start. He achieved the rare find in the world of mystery--FOUR-dimensional characters in a plausible setting with a credible mystery.

Bottom Line: Serves as a good introduction, but don't expect a great mystery, just exemplary characters!! Make certain you get the Bantam Crime Line edition--it comes with an introduction and trivia about Nero Wolfe at the end of the novel--great for either the beginning reader or the long-time fan.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Where most famous detective series actually start at a beginning point--Doyle's Study in Scarlett actually starts with Watson meeting Holmes, and Christie's Mysterious Affair at Styles shows us Hastings meeting Poirot--this amazing series begins in medias res, running on all its cylinders. Archie Goodwin is drinking milk and making smart-aleck remarks; Nero Wolfe is more concerned with his orchid schedule and the quality of his beer than the conclusion of the case. It is amazing that Rex Stout created this wonderful world out of whole cloth; if you're familiar to the series, you feel right at home, and if you're new to it, you feel as if you haven't missed a thing.

The plotting here isn't particularly fabulous--the mystery involves the rather elaborate murder of a university president, and the suspects are narrowed to one well before the end. Nevertheless, the pleasures of this book are many. Stout combines Archie's gumshoe attitude with the eccentricity of Wolfe's genius detective--straight out of a British cozy. The relationship between the two--and their interactions, both with the secondary characters (the perpetually dispepsic Det. Cramer, Fritz, the haughty chef, Saul Panzer, the detective's detective, et al.) and with the various clients and suspects who present themselves are a joy to behold. As with the fun A&E video series, the enjoyment is derived from the attitude and the interaction, more than from the working out of the actual mystery. If you're a timetable-and-map fan, this series probably isn't for you. But if you like a memorable cast of characters interacting in perpetually surprising, always inevitable ways, this is a great place to start a wonderful series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I do not know if my opinion is what you are looking for. I qwn all of the Nero Wolfe books and have read and reread every one of them numerous times.
I evidently like the way they are written because ,from a purely personal stand point, I do not like either of the two main characters, and in real life would want no part of them.
This may be a reason for someone else to love and admire them but I think you have to love New York and it's style of living and attitudes. I don't.
Never the less because, in my opinion, the stories are so well told and the characters are so well defined, they over come my personal dislike of the people. I admire the talent of the man writing the stories.
Wolfe is a self centered, Opinionated egomaniac with no sense of humorand a total diregard for convention.He uses words that are only useful to the curious because they will look them up and increase their vocabulary which in turn may increase their ability to work cross word puzzles, because those words ane not useed in normal discourse.
The thing that constantly amazes me is , that with so many things about the two lead characters that I don't like, I continue to read the stories over and over again.
The technical aspects are not my concern , mostly I read for relaxation and enjoyment I am not looking for education, morals or religion , just enjoyment, and Rex Stout, with whom I disagree in most philosophical areas, particularly politics,has the ability to enchant me with something that makes me forget that I don't like him and read another of his tales, again.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A prominent businessman drops dead of an apparent heart attack while playing golf. A few days later an out-of-work machinist disappears and is found murdered. Wolfe "links" the two incidents, demonstrates the first death to be a murder, and undertakes to collect the $50,000.00 reward posted for identifying the killer. In the process he tampers with witnesses, conceals evidence, and otherwise places himself and his assistant Archie Goodwin in danger of arrest. He turns in a dazzling display of deductive ability without leaving his home and without getting arrested in the process.
Most series begin at a beginning and work chronologically to an end. The characters grow and mature, and supporting cast comes and goes. So we have it with Horace Rumpole and Hercule Poirot. Other series skip about, giving stories from various stages of the star's career in a manner which perplexes would-be biographers. Sherlock Holmes is the classic example of this type series.
The Nero Wolfe series is a singular exception. Wolfe never ages, never changes. His supporting cast remains constant, and life in the brownstone is pretty much the same in the first book as it is throughout the series. "Fer-de-Lance" is the first book in the series, and the ensemble cast is almost fully in place. Archie, Theodore, Fritz, Saul, and the others all play much the same role as they will throughout the series. Only the irascible Inspector Cramer is missing.
I came to "Fer-de-Lance" after having read several later Wolfe books. The differed only in quality. "Fer-de-Lance" is much better-written than most of the later stuff I've read. The book reveals Stout to be an accomplished wordsmith and a crafter of ingenious plots.
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