Fer-De-Lance by Rex Stout
Mass Market Paperback: 285 pages
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; Bantam Crime Line ed edition (1 Mar. 2005)
It’s the first book in the Nero Wolfe series and the Amazon price was low, so it seemed a good one for me to start with.
Nero Wolfe is rather Holmesian in his range of knowledge and detective abilities, though his disinclination to leave his home aligns him more closely with Mycroft than with Sherlock.
Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s assistant, and the narrator of the stories, is somewhat more with it than Dr John Watson, and is more active as a detective, though he does share Watson’s eye for the ladies. In fact, in some ways Goodwin is the main character of the novel.
The pacing is good, and the plot is complex enough to be satisfactory. However, it is a bit dated in the choice of murder weapon. I always think of Edgar Wallace when it comes to complex gadgets. I’ll say no more for now, see what you think.
To sum up – characters, pacing and puzzle are all good. Look on the murder weapon as a period curiosity and don’t let it get in the way of your enjoyment.