I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is the first Nero Wolfe novel I have listened to and at first I found the narration off-putting. The narration seemed a little bland for the characters, but the more I listened, the more I enjoyed the narration. By the end, I was fully engaged. Of course the characters are unique, quirky, and fun. The story is interesting and the mystery is not stupid. This is the first Nero Wolfe novel and the characters are not quite as interesting as in later novels, but this was an excellent listen.
Unfortunately this recording has a number of pops, drops, and distortion, not too bad, but distracting and not up to the normal Audible quality.
I have liked virtually all the Nero Wolfe books I have read or listened to, and this is no exception. This is not the best story, but the Archie and Nero characterization is really great. I particularly like the narration which does a great job making Archie come alive. I would not recommend this as a first Nero Wolfe selection (maybe Some Buried Caesar is a good place to start), but any fan will really enjoy Father Hunt. Although this is not the best Wolfe story, even a below average Wolfe is better than most mysteries. The mystery story makes sense and is interesting, intelligent, engaging, and fun, but the characterizations is what makes this particular Wolfe story special.
Some Buried Caesar is one of the better of the uniformly excellent Nero Wolfe series. Although the audio is not totally crisp, I did not experience any muddiness experienced by others and there were no pops and drops I experienced on some of this series. This story shows Nero Wolfe at his most active – climbing, jumping and even going to the fair! Lots of fun, great characters, and an enjoyable mystery. Hard to beat that combination.
I just finished listening to “Fer-de-Lance”. It was written in 1934 and is the first book in a series that runs to more than 40 books. The Nero Wolfe series is considered by many to be one of the great mystery series of all time.
There are fashions and fads in publishing just as there are in clothing. At the time Rex Stout was writing, the fashion for crime novels was for them to be short. I think they usually ran 180 to 200 pages. Just before listening to this book, I listened to a rather horrible and over-long science fiction novel, and starting this was like a refreshing breath of cool mountain air. The Sci Fi novel ran nearly 24 hours. Fer-de-Lance, at 8.5 hours, was about a third as long. This means that Rex Stout had to make every word in this novel count. The plot had to be tight; he didn’t have any room in his word count for long, preachy speeches or irrelevant subplots. This novel may have been a third the length of the other, but I got three times or ten times or 50 times the pleasure from it.
And yet in that 8.5 hours, he manages to give us vivid characters who are instantly recognizable by the way they speak, a complicated mystery, and a great deal of humor. He does not find it necessary to assault us with bad language, gratuitous sex (or any sex at all), or gruesome details of gory or prolonged deaths. Thank goodness.
I was introduced to this series as a teenager, and every few years I have to reread them. I’m not sure I’ve read every one in the series. It used to be hard to get the whole series. The series was written over more than 40 years so some of them always seemed to be out of print. I’m not sure all of them are available now, but Audible has 19 of the 47 (By my count. I could be wrong.) Kindle has most of them, but I’m not sure if they have them all.
Do not be afraid to start the series because you can’t get them all. This is one series in which each book truly stands alone. You don’t need to read them in any particular order. However, since they were written over such a long period of time, I like to read those I can get in order by publication date because I get some amazement and pleasure out of watching the changes in society over time. For instance, in this book, cars still have rumble seats, housemaids earn $1.00 per week, and biplanes are still the standard. In one of the books in the series written 20 years later, Archie (Wolfe’s assistant) boards an airplane in New York and flies to Italy while wearing his gun in a shoulder holster and nobody even questions him about it.
Now a word about the narrator. I think all the books in this series are read by Michael Prichard. He narrates a lot of crime and suspense novels. He does a good job. I can tell Wolfe from Archie by his voice. I have no complaints about the way he does women’s voices. I am sorry that he doesn’t do accents because there are people in these books that definitely have them. But on the other hand, you probably couldn’t find a single narrator who could do as many accents as you would need for this series, so I guess we have to be grateful for what we get.
Bottom line: I recommend this entire series. Big time.