Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Golden Spiders

The Golden Spiders. Rex Stout. 1953. Random House. 206 pages.

When the doorbell rings while Nero Wolfe and I are at dinner, in the old brownstone house on West Thirty-fifth Street, ordinarily it is left to Fritz to answer it. But that evening I went myself, knowing that Fritz was in no mood to handle a caller, no matter who it was.

I loved The Golden Spiders very much! Is it because I am absolutely loving Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin? Is it because I have found Rex Stout's books to be so charming, so satisfying? Perhaps! Since I seem to be loving each new book I read a little bit more than those I've read before. (Though I'm not sure I could *really* choose between Some Buried Caesar and The Golden Spiders.) I love the characters. I love the writing--the style of it. I love the mystery too. I love how Goodwin and Wolfe *solve* their cases.

In this mystery, Archie Goodwin interrupts Nero Wolfe's dinner to tell him that there is a child at the door--Pete Drossos. This Pete has a case to present to Wolfe. He has witnessed something--a possible crime--and he wants Wolfe to team up with him. While he was washing the windows of stopped cars in traffic--he saw (not heard) a woman ask him to get the police. She had a scratch on her face. And her earrings were quite unique--golden spiders. There was a man with her in the car--and the boy believed (though he didn't see with his own eyes) the man had a gun and was threatening the woman. Being distrustful of cops, the boy sought this famous man's help. Wolfe is interested--mainly because he knows that his interest will annoy Archie--and offers his advice on how to be a good private investigator. He also promises to call the police and let them know about the alleged crime leaving the boy's name out of it. A few days later, well, Goodwin and Wolfe learn that this boy has been the victim of another crime--a murder. The boy's mother insists on fulfilling her son's last request--to give all his money--four dollars and some change--to Wolfe. Wolfe then feels obligated to do something for the boy. True, that amount of money isn't his usual rate for clients, but this is a special case. Archie then suggests they place an ad in the paper looking for the woman with golden spider earrings...

This mystery is compelling! I enjoyed it very much. I would definitely recommend this one.

Nero Wolfe to Fritz on the matter of his starlings:

When the platter was brought in steaming, and placed before him, he sniffed, ducked his head and sniffed again, and straightened to look up at Fritz.
"The sage?"
"No, sir."
"What do you mean, no, sir?"
"I thought you might like it once in a style I have suggested, with saffron and tarragon. Much fresh tarragon, with just a touch of saffron, which is the way--"
"Remove it!"
Fritz went rigid and his lips tightened.
"You did not consult me," Wolfe said coldly. "To find that without warning one of my favorite dishes has been radically altered is an unpleasant shock. It may possibly be edible, but I am in no humor to risk it. Please dispose of it and bring me four coddled eggs and a piece of toast." (2)

Archie on Nero Wolfe:

As I went across to the office, to my desk, and dialed the number of Manhattan Homicide West, I was reflecting that of all Wolfe's thousand techniques for making himself obnoxious the worst was when he thought he was being funny. (9)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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