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The League of Frightened Men

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Paul Chapin's college cronies never forgave themselves for the prank that crippled their friend. Yet with Harvard days behind them, they thought they were forgiven -- until a class reunion ends in a fatal fall. This league of frightened men seeks Nero Wolfe's help. But are Wolfe's brilliance and Archie's tenacity enough to outwit a most cunning killer?


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Paul Chapin's college cronies never forgave themselves for the prank that crippled their friend. Yet with Harvard days behind them, they thought they were forgiven -- until a class reunion ends in a fatal fall. This league of frightened men seeks Nero Wolfe's help. But are Wolfe's brilliance and Archie's tenacity enough to outwit a most cunning killer?

30 review for The League of Frightened Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    The first Nero Wolf book I ever read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    I am not going to retell the book's blurb as it contains too many spoilers - in my opinion. Nero Wolfe found himself without a job for quite some time - and with his money running out. Pestered by Archie Goodwin who is a man of action and cannot stand the prolonged absence of it, the great New York detective decides to take a case he rejected some time ago, only this time he chooses to involve more people as his clients: a group of people known as The League of Frightened Men thorough the book. I I am not going to retell the book's blurb as it contains too many spoilers - in my opinion. Nero Wolfe found himself without a job for quite some time - and with his money running out. Pestered by Archie Goodwin who is a man of action and cannot stand the prolonged absence of it, the great New York detective decides to take a case he rejected some time ago, only this time he chooses to involve more people as his clients: a group of people known as The League of Frightened Men thorough the book. Initially the mystery part seems to be completely missing as the culprit is known in advance and around 75% of the book it is more about character interactions which are always great in Nero Wolfe's books. I must give a warning however: nothing is as clear and obvious as it seems to be. The real mystery will appear later and only Wolve's genius analytical skills will help solving the case. As the second book of the series it still has some rough edges and the main characters are still not fully established, but the pure fun factor is there and makes this novel worth easy 4 stars. This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/889508...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gary Sundell

    4.5 stars. Not quite there yet as Stout is still working on things. Cramer makes his first visit to the brownstone smoking a pipe and calling Archie "sonny". Later when Archie visits Cramer at his office Cramer is finally working a cigar. The more irritating version of Cramer hasn't jelled yet. Lon Cohen at the Gazette hasn't appeared yet. Lily Rowan doesn't show up until book 6. Good solid mystery. I had one element figured out but was off on the rest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    3.5 stars I read almost every Nero Wolfe book when I was younger and I still enjoy going back and reading them on occasion although they may not have the same attraction that they once did. The Nero Wolfe books were written between 1934 - 1975 and this was the second book in the series. Reading this book was like stepping into a time capsule. Roadsters, pay phones, cigar stores, etc. And the 1930's slang ... "gat", "lob", etc. At first I found this annoying. Even Wolfe had to ask Archie what he m 3.5 stars I read almost every Nero Wolfe book when I was younger and I still enjoy going back and reading them on occasion although they may not have the same attraction that they once did. The Nero Wolfe books were written between 1934 - 1975 and this was the second book in the series. Reading this book was like stepping into a time capsule. Roadsters, pay phones, cigar stores, etc. And the 1930's slang ... "gat", "lob", etc. At first I found this annoying. Even Wolfe had to ask Archie what he meant at one point. However, I soon got over this and enjoyed the story and life at Wolfe's brownstone on West Thirty-Fifth Street in New York. In this story the bank account is getting low and Archie has to goad Wolfe into doing work (which seems to be a common theme in the series). The case Wolfe takes is one that he had previously turned down. Paul Chapin was left handicapped by a college prank. Two of his Harvard classmates have died under mysterious circumstances and the others have received poems that seem to indicate they are all going to be killed ... one at a time. Wolfe agrees to take the job and charges each man a fee based on their net worth / income. Essentially his job is to remove their fear. As mentioned this is the second book in the series and having read most of the others it seems going back to this one that the characters may not be as fully developed as I have come to know them. There are some other discrepancies between this story and later ones. Nothing major that detracts from the story. Of course Wolfe gathers all of the members of the league in his office at the end where he will remove their fear. Recommend to anyone who enjoys classic mystery stories.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    I love Nero Wolfe mysteries for so many reasons. The banter between Wolfe and sidekick, feet-on-the-street Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's genius and Goodwin's street smarts, the conjuring of an era (roadsters, sedans, switchboards, 1930's attire, etc.), food, orchids, snappy dialogue and the supporting characters both in the brownstone and outside. In this one Wolfe is becoming desperate for work and takes a job against his better judgment. Fifteen middle-aged men are frightened out of their wits that a I love Nero Wolfe mysteries for so many reasons. The banter between Wolfe and sidekick, feet-on-the-street Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's genius and Goodwin's street smarts, the conjuring of an era (roadsters, sedans, switchboards, 1930's attire, etc.), food, orchids, snappy dialogue and the supporting characters both in the brownstone and outside. In this one Wolfe is becoming desperate for work and takes a job against his better judgment. Fifteen middle-aged men are frightened out of their wits that a former Harvard classmate is out to kill their group one-by-one. The former classmate was crippled in a hazing incident in college and the group of men has been haunted by it every since. Indeed, they call themselves the League of Atonement. Two of their number died in suspicious circumstances and now one has gone missing. They assemble at Wolfe's house to explain their plight and ask Wolfe for his help. Wolfe takes the job, assigning each group member a dollar amount they will pay if he is successful. Success in this case is taking away their fear. While it seems clear that the crippled classmate is the perpetrator, with fifteen people in the group, there is plenty of room for suspicion and there are plenty of red herrings to keep ones interest. Wolfe, notorious for insisting that people come to him, actually leaves his brownstone twice. Once from being kidnapped by the main suspect's wife and once to go out to get a confession from the suspect. Of course we have the assembling of the entire group at the end of the book where Wolfe explains his deductions about the deaths and the missing group member and defends his success in order to be paid. This was a lot of fun!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I've decided I should be reading these in close to publication order. There were a couple of references in The Red Box to earlier cases, one of which I knew was one I'd read. It wasn't exactly a spoiler, but I became leery of what Stout might throw in another. There were references to earlier cases in this one, too, but I laughed (even at myself) for knowing Stout had not yet written about them and was just making up Wolfe's history of genius as he could. This one starts out with no case and Arch I've decided I should be reading these in close to publication order. There were a couple of references in The Red Box to earlier cases, one of which I knew was one I'd read. It wasn't exactly a spoiler, but I became leery of what Stout might throw in another. There were references to earlier cases in this one, too, but I laughed (even at myself) for knowing Stout had not yet written about them and was just making up Wolfe's history of genius as he could. This one starts out with no case and Archie itching for something to do. That he was restless would be an understatement. Even with the below, there is almost nothing to dislike about Archie Goodwin and I can lay my hands quickly on no quote that better epitomizes the relationship between Archie and Nero Wolfe.I do read books, but I never yet got any real satisfaction out of one; I always have a feeling there’s nothing alive about it, it’s all dead and gone, what’s the use, you might as well try to enjoy yourself on a picnic in a graveyard. Wolfe asked me once why the devil I ever pretended to read a book, and I told him for cultural reasons, and he said I might as well forgo the pains, that culture was like money, it comes easiest to those who need it least.In many ways, I could not say this one is the reason I will continue to read the series. Archie was continuously frustrated - and hungry. As usual, I was wrong in my guess as to who did the dastardly deed until the very end. It was also obvious that Wolfe knew at least 100 pages earlier, but needed proof. I'll stick my neck out and give this one 4 stars, but it probably just barely breaks the 3-4 line and even at that I might be feeling generous.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Rex Stout is another of those authors that I have come to late in my reading life. My first experience was with one of his last books, a short story collection, Death Times Three, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I've been trying to find his first book, Fer de Lance (1934) but so far with no luck. But I did find this book, The League of Frightened Men, his second book, originally published in 1935. From being someone who enjoyed my first experience of the great detective, Nero Wolfe, I now find my se Rex Stout is another of those authors that I have come to late in my reading life. My first experience was with one of his last books, a short story collection, Death Times Three, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I've been trying to find his first book, Fer de Lance (1934) but so far with no luck. But I did find this book, The League of Frightened Men, his second book, originally published in 1935. From being someone who enjoyed my first experience of the great detective, Nero Wolfe, I now find my self an unabashed fan. This book was excellent, a fascinating, entertaining, great mystery. Nero Wolfe and his partner, Archie Goodwin are a great team and both interesting in their own rights. Wolfe is an oversize detective, basically housebound, whose life, while he works to solve mysteries, is quite regimented. Each morning and each afternoon, he works upstairs in his home, tending his multitude of orchids. While he can be visited, no business is conducted. He settles the remainder of his day, in his office, tending to business. Archie is his eyes, ears, arms and legs. Archie conducts the investigations, travels around New York and local environs, interviewing, gathering information. He can be Wolfe's strong arm man if necessary. The stories are told in Archie's voice, from his perspective. (Oddly enough, Wolfe does sometime leave his home, this I discovered in this story. But this seems to be a rarety, not the norm) So this story; a group of men, Harvard classmates have a secret past. While in university, they hazed another classmate and as a result caused him to have severe injuries. Out of guilt, they have banded together to pay medical bills, etc. Now two have died, or maybe been murdered. They think that Paul Chapin is involved and that he plans to kill them all. Wolfe is hired and so the story begins. I enjoyed so much how the story is presented; small details like how Wolfe decides how to bill each of the different members of the group, and so many other aspects. The story has a surprising menace throughout and the case is so very interesting (even when Archie and Wolfe seem to be grinding their heels trying to get information.) I love Archie's manner of presenting the case, his thoughts on Wolfe; a combination of affection and anger. Great story and now I will have to read the whole series. An excellent story and mystery. Can you figure out the ending? (5 stars!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Yeoman

    This is arguably the first Nero Wolfe novel and probably the best. The author Rex Stout thought so himself. Across 47 Wolfe novels and anthologies, Stout kept up a remarkable quality, especially as he never edited a word. His later novels might be accused of digression, twittering dialogue that went nowhere, and loose structure. (Robert Heinlein exhibited the same faults in his dotage.) But this is ingenious, crisp and as sharply crafted as an Aztec crystal skull. No point in reviewing the plot. This is arguably the first Nero Wolfe novel and probably the best. The author Rex Stout thought so himself. Across 47 Wolfe novels and anthologies, Stout kept up a remarkable quality, especially as he never edited a word. His later novels might be accused of digression, twittering dialogue that went nowhere, and loose structure. (Robert Heinlein exhibited the same faults in his dotage.) But this is ingenious, crisp and as sharply crafted as an Aztec crystal skull. No point in reviewing the plot. Read the story! If you've never read Nero Wolfe before, you'll join a global club of addicts.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    I'd heard of the Nero Wolfe series over the years and this was my first foray into the series. A convoluted mystery more intricate than I had expected. Enjoyed the setting and the period depicted. A few cringeworthy moments regarding a character with a disability. From The Guardian 1000 list.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deb Jones

    College hijinks lead to the lifelong crippling of a young man. Those who felt responsible for the terrible accident banded together to do all they could to make amends for their foolishness to that man, who as the years have passed has become a successful author. One by one, members of the group, or league, are found dead under suspicious circumstances. To make matters worse for the league, each of them has received anonymous lines of verse taking credit for each death in turn and intimating that College hijinks lead to the lifelong crippling of a young man. Those who felt responsible for the terrible accident banded together to do all they could to make amends for their foolishness to that man, who as the years have passed has become a successful author. One by one, members of the group, or league, are found dead under suspicious circumstances. To make matters worse for the league, each of them has received anonymous lines of verse taking credit for each death in turn and intimating that anyone could be next. Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin have their work cut out for them as they try to put the pieces together, hopefully before any more deaths can occur. This story is one heck of a ride, so hold onto your hat and enjoy the ride.

  11. 5 out of 5

    sylph

    I hadn't read this one since childhood, so I remembered almost none of it. In a way, I loved it. But not necessarily as a detective story. I'm not into looking for plotholes, yet I noticed two or three which took me out of the story briefly. No, what I loved was how absorbing the language and dialogue is. I think Stout tightened things up in later books, and that's good. But this early story has something later ones are missing; a love not only of language, but of thinking about language. Which I hadn't read this one since childhood, so I remembered almost none of it. In a way, I loved it. But not necessarily as a detective story. I'm not into looking for plotholes, yet I noticed two or three which took me out of the story briefly. No, what I loved was how absorbing the language and dialogue is. I think Stout tightened things up in later books, and that's good. But this early story has something later ones are missing; a love not only of language, but of thinking about language. Which is a love I share. In this book, several people just wax on philosophically about this or that, and it made me want to live in a world where that was a perfectly ordinary thing to do. As to the story itself, although the "twist" to the plot was telegraphed ahead of time, it was mostly a pleasure watching it all unfold. I've read that Rex Stout wrote all his books straight through and turned them in without editing. That's impressive if true. This one needed more editing than it got in order to be a better mystery, yet I'd hate to have had much of the winding dialogue removed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nawfal

    Definitely earns the praise it gets for being an involved, psychology-filled story. A lot of the details are either too obscure or intricate for me to follow. That's okay with me - I read for entertainment, trusting that detectives and cops and heroes in stories are capable and skilled. They don't need me back-checking their work. Anyway, Archie is great. Nero is great. And I have sympathy for Fritz. And Nero makes beer sound so good. Overall, a character-driven story with lots of misdirections Definitely earns the praise it gets for being an involved, psychology-filled story. A lot of the details are either too obscure or intricate for me to follow. That's okay with me - I read for entertainment, trusting that detectives and cops and heroes in stories are capable and skilled. They don't need me back-checking their work. Anyway, Archie is great. Nero is great. And I have sympathy for Fritz. And Nero makes beer sound so good. Overall, a character-driven story with lots of misdirections and Wolfe playing cards close to his chest. For everyone to enjoy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    This episode of the Nero Wolfe Mysteries find Nero and Archie investigating an apparent murder at a Harvard Reunion. Thrity years before, the friends talk Paul Chapin (now a famous author) into doing something dangerous, it all goes wrong and Paul is left crippled. Back in the present of the 1930's, the friends begin to die in suspicious ways followed by murder notes to the survivors. Is it Paul taking revenge or is it a set-up? Only Wolfe and Archie can uncover the truth!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anand Ganapathy

    Rex Stout's second novel in the Nero Wolfe series - nice mystery

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nabiela

    This was long, round-about and there were lots of missed opportunities to elevate this story up and above what it is. Nothing particularly original either. Mr. Wolfe is basically a less genial and less interesting, for that matter, Mycroft Holmes. Now, I wikipedia-d it (Yolo) and this seems to be one of the better of the Rex Stout books . So, will I read the rest of the series? That's a no from me .

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim Townsend

    Excellent second novel in the Nero Wolfe mystery series. This one features a group of Harvard grads, one of whom was injured in a hazing incident instigated by the others. Twenty five years later, people in this group begin to die in horrible ways. Nero and his employee Archie Goodwin are on the case.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime BOOK 170 (of 250) Just think of all the books this 'college-hazing-pranks' gone wrong must have inspired. HOOK - 3: "Wolfe and I sat in the office Friday afternoon...Wolfe was drinking beer and looking at pictures of snowflakes (as in snow, not politics) in a book someone had sent him from Czechoslovakia (yes, it used to be a country). I was reading the morning paper...I do read books, but I never yet got any real satisfaction out of one; I always ha COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime BOOK 170 (of 250) Just think of all the books this 'college-hazing-pranks' gone wrong must have inspired. HOOK - 3: "Wolfe and I sat in the office Friday afternoon...Wolfe was drinking beer and looking at pictures of snowflakes (as in snow, not politics) in a book someone had sent him from Czechoslovakia (yes, it used to be a country). I was reading the morning paper...I do read books, but I never yet got any real satisfaction out of one; I always have a feeling there's nothing alive about it, it's all dead and gone..." The "I" is Archie Goodwin, Nero's sidekick and the case they are about to embark upon involves an invent that took place well in the past but is brought back to life. It's as if Archie and Nero conjure this one up. If you've read a Nero/Stout novel, you might like the opening banter, if not, don't start with this one. PACE - 2: Takes a while to kick into gear, then once it does, it throws in a massive cast of old college mates, needlessly too many people, imo. PLOT - 3: Great premise, and as I say above, one that's been copied (or did Stout copy it?) many times: a hazing prank goes wrong, a man is handicapped for life, and the man decides it is time for revenge. Murder 1 and 2 have occurred as the book opens, and murder 3 is about to happen. The problem is that there are about 30 college mates involved, all listed here, and much of the discussion/action leads nowhere. This cast could have worked with, say, 15 people instead of 30 and I think it could have been a better book. But MOST of this book feels like red herrings used for filler material. CHARACTERS - 3: Paul Chapin as the injured student/adult is fascinating. Nero and Archie go at each other brilliantly. Andrew Hibbard might be the third person to be murdered, but then he goes missing. Is he in hiding? Hibbard's neice goes to see Nero...then about 30 other characters become involved and for me all these people feel like filler material. ATMOSPHERE -4: Solid, the brownstone and the orchids and a college re-union and great lines like this one from Archie: "In my business I've seen it proved a hundred times that one thing you never want to leave in the bureau drawer is your curiosity." SUMMARY: My overall rating is 3.0. This is my sixth Nero book and I've read 2* that I'd say are very good "who-done-it" novels: this is not one of them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws

    Nero has been procrastinating when it came to taking up cases and funds are running low. Most importantly, the trusted sidekick, Archie is getting impatient. Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin return in this second instalment where their client is not a single person but a group of men who are nicknamed as ‘The League of Frightened Men’ in the course of the book. This book was a bit different from the first in the sense that this seems to be a very open and shut case. A class reunion that ended badly Nero has been procrastinating when it came to taking up cases and funds are running low. Most importantly, the trusted sidekick, Archie is getting impatient. Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin return in this second instalment where their client is not a single person but a group of men who are nicknamed as ‘The League of Frightened Men’ in the course of the book. This book was a bit different from the first in the sense that this seems to be a very open and shut case. A class reunion that ended badly sent a group of men running scared for their lives. They had been involved in a prank during their days at Harvard that crippled one of their classmates. It seems that now that person is back for revenge and will not be satisfied with anything less than claiming each of their lives. Pretty simple, eh? Well, read the book to find out. I loved the fact that the plot was presented in a unique way. The detective was hired not to find the killer but just to find proof of the crimes. Nero takes his time with the case as he gets to know the whole group. It was fascinating to read about each interaction and the mystery buff in me kept nudging, it cannot be that simple, can it? And I am delighted to say that the author had almost had me fooled. Nero played it cool and it was a total pleasure to see the whole plot unfold. I am in love with the author’s language. There is something to be said for an author who uses very specific words and manages to keep his narrative so crisp that there were times I just re-read a few paragraphs immediately after just for the pleasure of it. I absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend this series to mystery lovers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    5 Stars. They've felt guilty all these years but it's more than that - the two dozen men have anticipated a murderous retaliation in one form or another by Paul Chapin over that same time. "The League of Frightened Men" is an appropriate title for this masterpiece. Who better to serve as the novel's centrepiece than Nero Wolfe, the astonishing private detective with so many eccentricities. They keep coming at you, like orchids, big fees and resolute schedules. The informal "League" came out of a 5 Stars. They've felt guilty all these years but it's more than that - the two dozen men have anticipated a murderous retaliation in one form or another by Paul Chapin over that same time. "The League of Frightened Men" is an appropriate title for this masterpiece. Who better to serve as the novel's centrepiece than Nero Wolfe, the astonishing private detective with so many eccentricities. They keep coming at you, like orchids, big fees and resolute schedules. The informal "League" came out of a hazing episode at Harvard when Chapin took-up a dare by the group and an unfortunate accident occurred. He's now a famous author. Two of the men have died in mysterious fashion. Then a third suspiciously disappears and threatening letters start to appear. The group know that Chapin is the originator. They meet with Wolfe and retain him to … ; you can enjoy the details of the service contract yourself. Watch as Wolfe lets his veneer slip and shows real concern for Archie when his life appears in danger. At one point we find him in a bar miles from home sipping beer, what else, while he waits for his #1. (August 2018)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Cline

    This is my second time through the Nero Wolfe oeuvre and I am definitely enjoying it. I can never figure out whodunit but the solution is always logical. In each of the first two books, there's a twist at the end; it will be interesting to see if that continues. Plus in this one, Wolfe leaves the house!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin O'Brien

    This is the second in the Nero Wolfe series, and the characters come into a little better focus than in the first. The basic plot revolves around a group of men that were in college together, and one of them is crippled in a hazing accident perpetrated by the others. This has led that group of men to form a "League of Atonement" to help support the crippled man. But then several of them die under mysterious circumstances, and they start to get letters that appear to be written by the crippled ma This is the second in the Nero Wolfe series, and the characters come into a little better focus than in the first. The basic plot revolves around a group of men that were in college together, and one of them is crippled in a hazing accident perpetrated by the others. This has led that group of men to form a "League of Atonement" to help support the crippled man. But then several of them die under mysterious circumstances, and they start to get letters that appear to be written by the crippled man. Has he decided on revenge? Is he planning to murder all of them? Wolfe has to untangle all of this. There are a several things that make this novel interesting within the Corpus. One is that Archie is drugged and captured, and the other is that Wolfe is kidnapped while trying to get Archie released. Neither of those happens a whole lot. And this illustrates something about the Wolfe series. Stout goes to some trouble to emphasize certain idiosyncrasies of Wolfe's behavior, and one them is that "Wolfe never leaves the house on business." But in fact as you go through the books Wolfe manages to get out more often than you would expect. Sometimes it is not ostensibly "business" that gets him out, but even then business find him anyway. Being a friend of Nero Wolfe could be very dangerous.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tom Britz

    My second Nero Wolfe and he is fast becoming a favorite. Nero Wolfe is a mountain of flesh, gargantuan, huge person, to put it flatly he is fat. He is also sedentary, preferring to sit in his chair and drink beer, except for the four hours each day, precisely at 9AM til 11AM and 4PM til 6Pm, when he devotes himself to his passion for orchids. He rarely leaves his townhouse. It is Archie Goodwin who is his hands on man. They have a unique partnership at once antagonistic but also loving. This stor My second Nero Wolfe and he is fast becoming a favorite. Nero Wolfe is a mountain of flesh, gargantuan, huge person, to put it flatly he is fat. He is also sedentary, preferring to sit in his chair and drink beer, except for the four hours each day, precisely at 9AM til 11AM and 4PM til 6Pm, when he devotes himself to his passion for orchids. He rarely leaves his townhouse. It is Archie Goodwin who is his hands on man. They have a unique partnership at once antagonistic but also loving. This story line is about a large group of Harvard grads who injured an underclassman during a hazing event, years before. Paul Chapin, the underclassman was left a cripple (he uses a walking stick and braces to get around) after falling from a fourth floor window. Now this group, calling themselves The League of Atonement, as they feeling guilt over Paul's condition have spent the years since graduation helping Paul whenever they can. Suddenly members of the group begin to die under mysterious circumstances, along with a mysterious poem that appears to all the remaining members, supposedly by the killer. After the second person disappears, the niece undertakes to contact Nero, and the novel is off to a twisted and convoluted start. The give and take between Nero and Archie make this duo a classic in the mystery field.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Brown

    OK, this is the second ever Nero Wolf story. It's not quite as enjoyable as the first one. I think the reason was twofold. First, in order to pull off the phycological battle between Nero and the murderer Stout had to make Archie dumber. He did that mostly by making Archie jumpy and grouchy not at all like the urbane yet coiled spring we see in later works. Second of all is the phycological battle that makes up the bulk of the adversarial relationship in this book. In order for it to work there OK, this is the second ever Nero Wolf story. It's not quite as enjoyable as the first one. I think the reason was twofold. First, in order to pull off the phycological battle between Nero and the murderer Stout had to make Archie dumber. He did that mostly by making Archie jumpy and grouchy not at all like the urbane yet coiled spring we see in later works. Second of all is the phycological battle that makes up the bulk of the adversarial relationship in this book. In order for it to work there had to be more stupid people around than just Archie. In fact nearly a dozen other people had to be incredibly clueless for the story to work. I suppose with a mass hysteria that could happen, but would a hysteria last for two decades amoung so many members who are often far apart? I don't think so. That makes the whole premise of the mystery weak I think. Like the first book this one was sprinkled with allusions to previous investigations. It was pleasant to have two of those references be to the story in Fer De Lance. I hope to pick up on more and more references to stories that were actually written as we go along.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I have read three of the Wolfe series including this one and I remember with great fondness the TV series on A&E in 2001-2002. Of all of those episodes and compared to the previous two books this hardly measures up. It plodded along and was barely saved by a decent if not great ending. This book has made me hesitant regarding ordering more of the series. I imagine I will, but there are so many 4 and 5 star books by authors such as Sandford, Connelly, Deaver and so many more that I don't care I have read three of the Wolfe series including this one and I remember with great fondness the TV series on A&E in 2001-2002. Of all of those episodes and compared to the previous two books this hardly measures up. It plodded along and was barely saved by a decent if not great ending. This book has made me hesitant regarding ordering more of the series. I imagine I will, but there are so many 4 and 5 star books by authors such as Sandford, Connelly, Deaver and so many more that I don't care to spend time on books that are just adequate.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review)

    The Golden Age writers in America are more "hard-boiled" than those of the UK, but even so they make for a good read and the Nero Wolfe books are right up there, narrated by Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin, this one has a group of men, who attended Harvard together, panicking because of deaths amongst them, especially as the deaths were followed by a letter insinuating that they will all share the fate of dying prematurely.  They believe they know who is responsible, but none of them wish to pu The Golden Age writers in America are more "hard-boiled" than those of the UK, but even so they make for a good read and the Nero Wolfe books are right up there, narrated by Wolfe's assistant Archie Goodwin, this one has a group of men, who attended Harvard together, panicking because of deaths amongst them, especially as the deaths were followed by a letter insinuating that they will all share the fate of dying prematurely.  They believe they know who is responsible, but none of them wish to put it in the hands of the police, leaving Nero Wolfe and Archie to find out the truth.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Another great Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin case that defies the odds and makes us think differently about the case of a man who was severely injured in a prank gone wrong in a college setting. I think that the writing of the detective and his cohort, Archie and Nero is one of the most complex welldone and interesting series that I have encountered. And 50 years after reading some of his fist books, the author still hits me as a terrific writer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thelma

    As always, complicated characters, and plenty of them, with enough slang thrown in the make it very interesting to me. I love Archie Goodwin.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I enjoy these characters and the pre-television style of writing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Good, old fashioned detective novel, but I'd forgotten that Rex Stout is VERY tough to ready. I spent most of my time looking up 10 letter words. Classic though...I may have to read more...later.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I found the narrator character very amusing. I will probably read more from this series.

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