Sunday, April 13, 2008

Great snakes!

I read the first Nero Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance, (I'm planning to read them in chronological order this year) and found it to be about what one would expect. The mystery itself wasn't the best of them all, though the plot was sufficiently unique to provide some enjoyment. The book's denouement clearly showed the influence of British mystery novels of the early 20th century and Archie was not quite who he becomes later in the series. The relationships are all a bit different; in most of the books Archie is the only one permanently employed by Nero Wolfe. In this one Saul Panzer and others are on the payroll too, and Archie is less deferential and complimentary to him. Inspector Cramer doesn't make an appearance; I'll be interested to see which book he turns up in first. All in all, a rougher, more unpolished but still recognisable Nero Wolfe story. Probably most jarring is Archie's use of an ethnic slur. He doesn't strike one as being the type to do that in later books, so encountering it here after becoming familiar with the character is a bit of a shock. Still, despite the flaws, I can see how this book and these characters were promising enough to grow into the institution that it did.

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Listening to: King's X - Dogman - 03 - Pretend
via FoxyTunes