This is a great Nero Wolfe story. It opens with Archie and Wolfe in a heated row. The two detectives have been known to push each others buttons but when Archie tears up his paycheck the resulting friction can be felt for the rest of the novel. Archie at one points runs out of the office and brownstone yelling that he doesn't care if he gets fired and goes to search for a killer himself. Along the way, Archie runs into a variety of strange characters including Sarah Jaffee, a young widow who still has a place set at the table for her dead husband. But the best part of all is this: as the pressure heats up to a boiling point, Wolfe finds himself with an unexpected client, Archie Goodwin.
William DeAndrea's terse introduction to the novel covers a lot in a few words. As he makes clear, this is an excellent novel for the new reader of the Nero Wolfe series. As a part of "The Rex Stout Library," a reprint of rare or "never before seen" memorabilia from Stout's archives is included at the back of the volume. I was disappointed with the item for this volume, the first typewritten page of Stout's manuscript. It does not exactly make a big splash, especially when the only difference between manuscript and final book form was the title. But that is my only criticism.
I recommend this book to all, avid mystery reader or not. I say not to fear for those fans of the television series that may be wary to tackle the volumes since Tim Hutton followed each novel very closely. The television show was excellent but there is even more detail in the book. For example, you get to learn exactly why Mrs. Jaffee should be able to recognize Eric Hagh along with how far an old man went when planning to strangle a young girl.