this is the 209th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout, © 1935, I read the 1977 paperback – mystery, Nero Wolfe
“Wolfe and I sat in the office on Friday afternoon.”
It’s been quite a while since I read a Nero Wolfe novel, and I was in the mood. So, though I’ve read this one before, I decided to read it again. That opening line was enough to pull me right in.
It’s probably not fair for me to make any judgments, since it’s been a while since I read any of these, but this didn’t seem like one of the stronger books in the series. I’d like to hear what Art Scott and others have to say about that. Still, it was fun to read and reminded me that I enjoy these and should read them more often.
The bad guy in this one, Paul Chapin, is an interesting character. Crippled as a result of a prank played on him during college, he is bitter. The group of classmates responsible for the injury have been providing for him for years. Now one is murdered, then another and after both deaths each member of the group receives an anonymous poem (that could only have come from Chapin but that couldn’t be proved) taking credit for the crime and carrying the hint of more to come. This group, now bankers, lawyers, stockbrokers, cab drivers and newspapermen, etc. come to Wolfe for help. They are the eponymous league of the title. One interesting thing about this one is that Wolfe leaves the house, not once, but twice, the second time to rescue Archie.
The Wolfe novels and stories hold up well. There may be a few anachronisms – sure Archie would have a PC these days, but the house, food, cabs, newspapers, and so forth still work just fine. I tend to accept fiction as I find it and “dated” isn’t that much of a bother to me.
It was nice to visit Wolfe and Archie again.