Hired to help society widow Rachel Bruner foil bothersome Feds, Nero Wolfe and his able assistant Archie get in over their heads with highly trained G-men who are adept at bugs, tails, and threats. Reissue. NYT.
In The Doorbell Rang, Stout gets his jabs in at the "privileged" position of the federal investigator, while raising issues many Americans had at the time about a "secret police" which reported, supposedly, only to the president. A true immigrant, Wolfe has more of a feeling for what democracy is and how precious an item it is, and works harder to defend it than the "real" Americans. As always, Stout's prose is clean and crisp, and this is the same book that you expect from him.
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.
With Stout, the characters are the thing. Read more