Monday, May 16, 2011

The Silent Speaker

The Silent Speaker. Rex Stout. 1946/1994. Random House. 288 pages.  

Seated in his giant's chair behind his desk in his office, leaning back with his eyes half closed, Nero Wolfe muttered at me:
"It is an interesting fact that the members of the National Industrial Association who were at that dinner last evening represent, in the aggregate, assets of something like thirty billion dollars."
I slid the checkbook into place on top of the stack, closed the door of the safe, twirled the knob, and yawned on the way back to my desk.
"Yes, sir," I agreed with him. "It is also an interesting fact that the prehistoric Mound Builders left more traces of their work in Ohio than in any other state. In my boyhood days--"
"Shut up," Wolfe muttered.
I let it pass without any feeling of resentment, first because it was going on  midnight and I was sleepy, and second because it was conceivable that there might be some connection between his interesting fact and our previous conversation, and that was not true of mine. We had been discussing the bank balance, the reserve against taxes, expectations as to bills and burdens, one of which was my salary, and related matters. The exchequer had not swung for the third strike, but neither had it knocked the ball out of the park. After I yawned three more times Wolfe spoke suddenly and decisively. 
"Archie. Your notebook. Here are directions for tomorrow."
In two minutes he had me wide awake. When he had finished and I went upstairs to bed, the program for the morning was so active in my head that I tossed and turned for a full thirty seconds before sleep came. (1-2)

I enjoyed The Black Orchid, but I really enjoyed The Silent Speaker. I just love, love, love Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Archie makes for a GREAT narrator! There's just something so delicious, so satisfying, so fun about these Nero Wolfe books. (I can't wait to read all the ones my library has!)

So in The Silent Speaker, Archie and Nero Wolfe are trying to find a way to make some money. I guess you could say they are in between detecting jobs at the moment. There's just been a high profile murder. And though they've not been hired--by any one--Archie is going around town acting like he's on the case. He's interviewing people, writing down clues, making people nervous etc. Soon he's got a handful of people thinking that Nero Wolfe is just days away from solving the crime. So Archie's acting pays off. The NIA hires Nero Wolfe to solve this murder for them. Even though several NIA employees are on the suspect list. But the truth is, Nero Wolfe isn't exactly sure WHO committed this crime. (Or is he?!) You see, there's been a reward offered--a BIG, BIG, BIG reward. And Nero Wolfe may just be out to collect it! If he can outwit the police and everyone else.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this review, must look into.

Unknown said...

I've never read any of the Nero Wolf novels. I'm looking forward to reading a few - thanks for the heads up Becky.