Friday, February 07, 2020



Although I was warned that this was an atypical Rex Stout novel, I had read enough of his books 25 years ago to be in the mood to read something different. And in many ways, it was a good choice. Wolfe steps out of his brownstone, out of his country, and out of his typical "you do the footwork, Archie and I'll do the brain work." setup
But in other ways,  since it had been so long, I wanted that familiar setup. I am not even sure a man of Wolfe's girth and sloth could undertake this trip. But let's say he can.
But getting to the story...
When Nero Wolfe's close friend, a restaurateur is killed, followed by Wolfe's adopted daughter, the reason clearly lies in Montenegro (where both were involved in a protest movement), so much to all of our surprise, Nero abandons his usual methods of solving crimes and goes there, undertaking a difficult passage through the mountains. This is in 1954 and the geopolitics is difficult with Tito in power.
It was hard to know who your enemies were and indeed, Wolfe does not. This is not a whodunnit as much as it is how will Wolfe trip him up. And the real genius in it is that Stout gets to prove he could have written spy novels with as much grace as his mysteries. I enjoyed it but it was not as good as Fer De Lance, The League of Frightened Men or Too Many Cooks for me.
One review suggested that this was a way for Stout to clear out two characters that had been hanging around too long. I wonder.


Margot Kinberg said...

I've always admired Stout, Patti, even if I haven't always liked everything of his that I've read. He was so prolific and talented!

George said...

Ironically, THE BLACK MOUNTAIN was the first Nero Wolfe mystery I ever read. I have read them all and my favorite is THE GOLDEN SPIDERS. Art Scott and Steve Stilwell have read the entire Nero Wolfe series over 50 times!

TracyK said...

I have read all of the Rex Stout novels at least 4 times each, but not 50 times! I do love them all. I like Black Mountain for the trip Wolfe takes to avenge the murders and for the different look at Archie, but I agree it is not as good as others.