The Doorbell Rang Mass Market Paperback – Jun 1 1992
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Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are all great fun, full of wonderful food and the arcane details of hobbies as diverse as orchid growing and Balkan history. But in this outing, things suddenly become much more serious when Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin face the malevolent forces of J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI minions. Luckily, Stout's heart and his writing style are more than equal to the challenge.
From Library Journal
Nero Wolfe is sleuthing as usual in these three mysteries. In the Best Families deals with Mrs. Rackam, an aging millionaire who approaches Wolfe to investigate why her young and penniless husband suddenly and mysteriously has large sums of money. Wolfe's inquiry leads him to a confrontation with Arnold Zeck; later a letter bomb causes Wolfe to resign from detective work and go into hiding, leaving his assistant, Archie Goodwin, to solve the case. Has Wolfe's career ended in humiliation? Only time will tell. Michael Pritchard's clear and strong reading helps support the tale. Rachel Bruner, a wealthy society widow, turns to Wolfe in The Doorbell Rang. She writes him a check for $100,000 and asks him to stop the FBI from spying on her and her family. She will pay more if he is successful. He takes the case, and soon Wolfe and Archie are confronting FBI agents, murder, and threats as they search for answers. Champagne for One challenges Wolfe's knowledge of gourmet food and of sleuthing. Did society girl Faith Usher commit suicide via cyanide in her champagne, or was she murdered? Archie was there, and he suspects foul play. Saul Rubinek provides pleasant readings of both stories and helps keep the atmosphere charged. Although abridged, The Doorbell Rang/Champagne for One provides more entertainment than In the Best Families and is recommended.ADenise A. Garofalo, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Interestingly, Stout was 48 when his first Wolfe novel was published and he continued writing them until he was almost 90.
This book has it all, from the usual cast of characters, Wolfe and Archie in the old brownstone, Saul, Orrie, and Fred, the freelancers hired to help on the case, Inspector Cramer, and the plot features an interesting twist on Wolfe's orchid hobby...well hobby doesn't describe 10,000 orchids in his rooftop greenhouse. You know there's a lot of commerce involved in keeping that collection going, but I'd better not say anymore about that.
Wolfe is visited by a potential client with a problem that could be too hot to handle. You see, she has sent out copies of a book, "The FBI Nobody Knows" to influential people, newspaper editors, etc. Now she thinks the G-men are following her, tapping her phone and maybe worse. Most PI's wouldn't handle this case, even if the client was Cleopatra or Helen of Troy.
But, a check for $100,000 has a...powerful appeal to Wolfe(it was a lot of money in the 60's when the book was written). Has Nero Wolfe finally bitten off more than he can chew when the FBI comes calling?
Read this book. I consider it a classic, of both humor and of subtle political commentary. I give this book five of the biggest, brightest stars in the heavens.
What makes this book so great is that it's different from most Nero Wolfe books. In this one, the main case is not a murder. The enemy is a huge and powefrul organization. Throughout the book, special precautions are taken by Wolfe and Archie, his wisecracking assistant, because they both know that the FBI isn't above bugging. The way they fulfill their clients wishes is wonderful, but of course I won't tell you how they do it. And the very end made me laugh out loud in the middle of a crowded bus. Just wait for it and you'll see what I mean. Stout is also a great writer and the Doorbell Rang is full of snappy writing and Wolfe in all his eloquence. It is a great book and it is really fun to read.
With Stout, the characters are the thing. One does not read Stout to immerse oneself in an intricate mystery that one tries to solve. On reads Stout because you know you are in for a treatï¿½not only do you get the ongoing give and take with the usual suspectsï¿½Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, he of the intrepid heart and very dry wit, Fritz and Cramer, house chef and NYPD Homicide Captain, but each book also introduces an interesting and well developed cast of secondary characters as well. And, given that Wolfe is as much a psychologist in his detecting as a detective, convincing and in depth characterization is critical to the success of any given story.
Itï¿½s just after the New Year and the indolent Wolfe needs a client. A doozy shows upï¿½a rich widow being harassed by the FBI. She offers Wolfe a $100,000 retainer to devise a means of getting them off her back. Wolfe, with no real idea how to proceed, draws down on his credit balance with a local journalist and gets the inside poop on several FBI operations in the NYC area. Wolfe focuses on a murder where three FBI men are involved. He begins investigating the crime with an eye to setting up a situation where he can use the crime as a lever against the FBI.
What makes this novel particularly interesting is the role the murder plays in the plot. Usually, the murder IS the plot. Here it is a sideshow to the main eventï¿½Nero Wolfe v. the FBI.
The manner in which Wolfe succeeds in setting up and trapping the local FBI officers is brilliant and extremely entertaining. Moreover, this book features the full blown cast of Wolfe characters, a rarity for a Wolfe novel.
Stoutï¿½s Nero Wolfe is one of the classic 20th century detective seriesï¿½and this is classic Wolfe from beginning to end.
In order to accomplish his goal, he determines that he must find a means of *forcing* the FBI to leave her alone. A murder case in which some local FBI agents in NYC are apparently involved then comes to Wolfe's attention. He, being a genius, decides that it will be in the best interest of his client (and himself) to determine that the FBI did *not* commit this murder. But, he also says to Archie, he is prepared to deal with the eventuality that the FBI *did* commit the murder and to turn it to his advantage. In either case, Wolfe doesn't give a fig as to who actually committed this particular murder -- he only wants to earn his fee.
Most recent customer reviews
An interesting character. Nero Wolfe Is a huge overweight man, does not leave his house if he can help it, yet he is up on current events, local history etc. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Eilleen Baker
Oftentimes the Nero Wolfe books are in some never-never time. You know it's sometime after the second World War, but placing it in the fifties or sixties or seventies can be tough. Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2003 by Glen Engel Cox
I love this series, especially because of the relationship between NW and AG. These two men could not be more different in terms of work ethic, personal style, taste, etc. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2002
Nero Wolfe cannot be anything other than a reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes' smarter brother. Wolfe's corpulence, indolence, sagacity, and appreciation for the finer things of... Read morePublished on June 8 2001 by George R Dekle