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Publisher's Summary

Nero Wolfe and his capable assistant, Archie, help a rich old lady uncover the mysterious source of her husband's money. The case leads them unexpectedly to the country's most dangerous man. And if the sleuths want to live, they'll have to consider an alien idea: run and hide. That will be no small feat for the wide Mr. Wolfe.
Stout fellow: listen to all of our Nero Wolfe mysteries, including classic radio programs!
©1950 Rex Stout (P)1995 Books on Tape Inc.

Critic Reviews

"It's always a treat to read a Nero Wolfe mystery. The man has entered our folklore." (The New York Times)
"What's not to like about a Nero Wolfe mystery? The mysteries are short, cleverly plotted, well paced, and, if you're an audiobook listener, wonderfully read by Michael Prichard....Prichard has read nearly 20 books in Stout's series and has mastered Wolfe's deep, meditative voice and Archie's spry, chipper voice, as well as those of a host of other characters we recognize from one recording to the next." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    out of 5 stars

Nero Wolfe never fails

Great story. Love the voice work.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 11-20-13

My least favorite Nero Wolfe

This story follows a powerful criminal character introduced in And Be a Villain leading to a somewhat anticlimactic showdown with Nero Wolfe. I really like almost every Nero Wolfe novel, and even the ones I don’t particularly like, I don’t dislike them. This is the one I really did not like. I found the powerful criminal and conflict too derivative of Holmes and Moriarty. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprising bits for anyone, but I did not find them interesting or compelling. This is the only book of the series I actually wish I had not read, as the off characterizations here very subtly degraded my relationships with the series characters. I very highly recommend the series, but I would skip this and even And Be a Villain if I had it to do over again.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

loved it!

favorite nero wolfe (so far). many unusual and unexpected events. the twists in the story kept me engaged until the very end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ultimately Satisfying

This seemed a bit of a slow starter, as Rex Stout stories go, but eventually got going and proved ultimately satisfying, with Archie exhibiting fine phonated form, and Wolfe unusually discomfited.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent nail biter

I was really worried about my heroes but as usual, good triumphed over evil. This might be one of Reed's best woven plots!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Epic!! But read or listen to earlier books first!

Before listening to Michael Prichard's reading of Rex Stout's IN THE BEST FAMILIES, I'd read three or four Nero Wolfe mysteries, and listened to six or seven Prichard versions. By the time I got to FAMILIES, I not only loved the characters deeply, but I was very familiar with their idiosyncrasies. Also, I knew how Prichard read; his voices for each character, his typical tone. I am SO GLAD I did! That familiarity made this excellent book all the more powerful!

Expertly crafted, IN THE BEST FAMILIES is an intricate puzzle of events full of the strong characterizations and vivid descriptions that are the hallmarks of Stout's Wolfe adventures. In addition, this book has heightened drama and bursts of action to get the reader's pulse going more than ever.

Without going into spoilers, I can say that Stout puts his beloved characters through the wringer, in more ways than one. He weaves deft Fan Service into the tale without Pandering to the Base (see TVTropes), and it's a marvelous ride.

Every Michael Prichard performance is excellent, but in FAMILIES Prichard catches hold of the emotions between the quotes like never before, and reads with thrilling impact. By the climax, I forgot it was an audiobook and not a movie.

Archie's character is always a complex balance of restraint and bravado; in FAMILIES, Stout writes and Prichard portrays him brilliantly.

And oh, that glorious Archie banter!

What a great book!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • CHARLOTTE, NC, US
  • 03-20-18

Most Satisfactory

Not a story for one new to Wolfe due to references from several earlier novels, but a must read if one has read/listened to most of the series.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Best Stout Ever!

Great story...great villain...stretches Archie's character to new dimensions. Best episode in Stout's series. Highly recommend it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

one of his best

I loved this book. I've read it twice. will do so again. first rate story.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

How did the reader stay awake?

The reader of this book sounds like he would rather be anywhere other than reading it. Slow, dull, like he couldn't care less about the the book.