Rex Stout, whose career spanned most of the 20th century, is considered one of the greatest mystery and crime writers of all time. His Nero Wolfe corpus, begun in 1934, spanned more than 30 titles and ended with Stout’s death, in 1975.
Her Forbidden Knight presents a story from Stout’s early days. Ably performed with a touch of gravel by Jonah Cummings, the story is set in a fashionable New York hotel in the 1890s. At the center of the tale is John Knowlton, a Gatsby-esque playboy, and Lila Williams, a shy and irresistible telegraph operator who finds herself in a tricky situation. The story is replete with quaint customs and antiquated set pieces, and provides a glimpse into the developing style of a master.
An innocent young telegraph operator becomes a counterfeiter’s target.
Once, the Lamartine Hotel was a quiet refuge for New York’s stuffy fashionable set. But by the 1890s, fashion has moved uptown, and the lobby of the Lamartine has been overtaken by natty young sports, who pass their afternoons with billiards or shows of noisy derring-do. Their preferred damsel is Lila Williams, a delicate young telegraph operator whose shyness so charms them that they resolve to defend her against any ill-behaved characters. They are about to face their fiercest challenger, who rides in the gleaming armor of a millionaire.
His name is John Knowlton, and from the first telegram she writes for him, Lila is charmed. He has money, good looks, and a criminal secret, and his insidious charisma will demand heroic effort from the knights of the Lamartine billiard table.