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.”