Author Topic: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels  (Read 7855 times)

JeffreyMarks

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Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« on: December 12, 2019, 02:40:51 pm »
In listing out my favorites Nero Wolfe’s, I found a few themes that occurred in more than one book: strong, unique women. politics and Orrie. Who knew?

5. Plot it Yourself – someone is accusing playwrights and novelists of plagiarism by having copies of books typed before the best-selling books are published. How is the criminal doing this? Stout has such obvious fun with the subject matter that it’s contagious. The plagiarists start ending up dead after Wolfe gets involved and he has to solve the case.

4. The Silent Speaker – Cheney Boone of the BPR is bludgeoned to death right before an industrial association’s meeting. Of course, the association is accused of murder (indirectly) assuming that one of its members committed the actual deed. Upon calling one of his famous meetings of all involved, Phoebe Gunther doesn’t show, and Phoebe turns out to put Archie through his paces. Of course, being a match for our intrepid bachelor is a death sentence and Gunther becomes the next victim. Of all the Wolfe victims, I think I’m sorriest to see her go. She was such a good balance for Archie.

3. Death of a Doxy – Orrie’s in trouble and Wolfe has to bail him out. He’s been seeing a “doxy,” a Scrabble-player’s delight that means “mistress” as well as a supposed fiancée. Of course, the doxy had another man paying her bills. Wolfe and Goodwin have to determine who was paying the bills and likely killed her for stepping out on him. Julie Jaquette makes this book with her attitude and mannerisms.

2. In the Best Families – the last of the Zeck books and by far my favorite. I always like Wolfe encountering an environment outside of his own, and this book has that in spades. Wolfe has “disappeared” after being hounded by Zeck. Archie takes a case, which Wolfe solves quickly and efficiently after the Zeck mess is completed.

1. The Doorbell Rang – without a doubt my favorite of the series. The book has all the things I love about this series: witty banter, a worthy opponent, politics and a mention of books of interest. Wolfe goes up against the FBI and J. Edgar after he takes a case for a woman being pestered by FBI surveillance. A rather prescient look at tactics used throughout the 1960s against “enemies.”

Becke Davis

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Re: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2019, 03:07:33 pm »
In listing out my favorites Nero Wolfe’s, I found a few themes that occurred in more than one book: strong, unique women. politics and Orrie. Who knew?

5. Plot it Yourself – someone is accusing playwrights and novelists of plagiarism by having copies of books typed before the best-selling books are published. How is the criminal doing this? Stout has such obvious fun with the subject matter that it’s contagious. The plagiarists start ending up dead after Wolfe gets involved and he has to solve the case.

4. The Silent Speaker – Cheney Boone of the BPR is bludgeoned to death right before an industrial association’s meeting. Of course, the association is accused of murder (indirectly) assuming that one of its members committed the actual deed. Upon calling one of his famous meetings of all involved, Phoebe Gunther doesn’t show, and Phoebe turns out to put Archie through his paces. Of course, being a match for our intrepid bachelor is a death sentence and Gunther becomes the next victim. Of all the Wolfe victims, I think I’m sorriest to see her go. She was such a good balance for Archie.

3. Death of a Doxy – Orrie’s in trouble and Wolfe has to bail him out. He’s been seeing a “doxy,” a Scrabble-player’s delight that means “mistress” as well as a supposed fiancée. Of course, the doxy had another man paying her bills. Wolfe and Goodwin have to determine who was paying the bills and likely killed her for stepping out on him. Julie Jaquette makes this book with her attitude and mannerisms.

2. In the Best Families – the last of the Zeck books and by far my favorite. I always like Wolfe encountering an environment outside of his own, and this book has that in spades. Wolfe has “disappeared” after being hounded by Zeck. Archie takes a case, which Wolfe solves quickly and efficiently after the Zeck mess is completed.

1. The Doorbell Rang – without a doubt my favorite of the series. The book has all the things I love about this series: witty banter, a worthy opponent, politics and a mention of books of interest. Wolfe goes up against the FBI and J. Edgar after he takes a case for a woman being pestered by FBI surveillance. A rather prescient look at tactics used throughout the 1960s against “enemies.”

My face is red. I think I've read one Nero Wolfe book, since I considered them "Mom's books," just as I considered John D. MacDonald "Dad's books." I'm sure I've read some Nero Wolfe short stories in various anthologies, but I clearly have homework to do. I may have some in my towering to-be-read pile. A trip to the library is called for, as soon as I get rid of the bug that's going around our house.

Kate Stine, Editor

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Re: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 10:15:34 am »
That's a great list, Jeff. Rex Stout is so much fun, and holds up so well to today's reading. I wish more of the books were still in print, it's hard for me to find titles I haven't read yet.

Becke Davis

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Re: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 10:35:57 am »
That's a great list, Jeff. Rex Stout is so much fun, and holds up so well to today's reading. I wish more of the books were still in print, it's hard for me to find titles I haven't read yet.

I wasn't patient enough to wait for a library visit - I ordered numbers 1 and 5 from Jeff's list, and look forward to reading them soon.

Kate - I used to have trouble finding out-of-print books by Ngaio Marsh and Patricia Wentworth. Now some of them are in print again. :-)

On the other hand, my mother left me her entire collection of Gideon of the Yard books by J.J. Marric (aka John Creasey). Last I checked many of those are still out of print.

Becke Davis

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Re: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2020, 12:32:57 am »
In listing out my favorites Nero Wolfe’s, I found a few themes that occurred in more than one book: strong, unique women. politics and Orrie. Who knew?

5. Plot it Yourself – someone is accusing playwrights and novelists of plagiarism by having copies of books typed before the best-selling books are published. How is the criminal doing this? Stout has such obvious fun with the subject matter that it’s contagious. The plagiarists start ending up dead after Wolfe gets involved and he has to solve the case.

4. The Silent Speaker – Cheney Boone of the BPR is bludgeoned to death right before an industrial association’s meeting. Of course, the association is accused of murder (indirectly) assuming that one of its members committed the actual deed. Upon calling one of his famous meetings of all involved, Phoebe Gunther doesn’t show, and Phoebe turns out to put Archie through his paces. Of course, being a match for our intrepid bachelor is a death sentence and Gunther becomes the next victim. Of all the Wolfe victims, I think I’m sorriest to see her go. She was such a good balance for Archie.

3. Death of a Doxy – Orrie’s in trouble and Wolfe has to bail him out. He’s been seeing a “doxy,” a Scrabble-player’s delight that means “mistress” as well as a supposed fiancée. Of course, the doxy had another man paying her bills. Wolfe and Goodwin have to determine who was paying the bills and likely killed her for stepping out on him. Julie Jaquette makes this book with her attitude and mannerisms.

2. In the Best Families – the last of the Zeck books and by far my favorite. I always like Wolfe encountering an environment outside of his own, and this book has that in spades. Wolfe has “disappeared” after being hounded by Zeck. Archie takes a case, which Wolfe solves quickly and efficiently after the Zeck mess is completed.

1. The Doorbell Rang – without a doubt my favorite of the series. The book has all the things I love about this series: witty banter, a worthy opponent, politics and a mention of books of interest. Wolfe goes up against the FBI and J. Edgar after he takes a case for a woman being pestered by FBI surveillance. A rather prescient look at tactics used throughout the 1960s against “enemies.”

Jeff - I finished THE DOORBELL RANG and I'm several chapters into PLOT IT YOURSELF.  I also picked up a copy of your #2, IN THE BEST FAMILIES. Thanks for these suggestions - I'm enjoying these more than I expected!

Becke Davis

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Re: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2020, 01:21:25 am »
Woo-hoo! I've been searching my bookshelves for two books by an author I met at Malice Domestic, whose name I can't remember. At the time I met her, she told me she'd written - and, I believe, self-published - a mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. We were at a table with several Canadian authors but I seem to remember she was British, or possibly American. Anyway, she wrote down the title of her book and when I got home I ordered it. I really enjoyed it, and when I searched her name about a year later and bought her second book, I liked it even more. I have both books around here somewhere, and I want to find them because I cannot, for the life of me, remember the author's name!

But enough of me losing my mind. You win some, you lose some. So while my brain cells are trickling away, I DID manage to find two books from my mom's collection - two vintage Nero Wolfe books! They are both from the 1940s: THE RUBBER BAND and THE BROKEN VASE. They are published by Dell. One has a fabulous map of a room layout on the back cover, and the other says "Send this book to a boy (!) in the armed forces anywhere for only 3 cents."

I have so many books they are all double-shelved so I have to remove the front layer in order to see what's in the back. This is going to take awhile, but at least there's the possibility that I'll find more treasures hiding away!

Becke Davis

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Re: Top 5 Nero Wolfe novels
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2020, 12:46:07 am »
I wouldn't normally share a Wikipedia post, but I found their page on Nero Wolfe fascinating! I'm new to Rex Stout's books - I think the only one I'd read in the past was FER-DE-LANCE, and I need to read it again. This post contained lots of book-related information that was new to me:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero_Wolfe