Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The League of Frightened Men (1935)

The League of Frightened Men. Rex Stout. 1935. Bantam. 320 pages.

This is the second novel in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mystery series. I am not reading the series in order, and I have preferred some of his later books in the series to the first two in the series. In this mystery, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are trying to satisfy a large number of clients, members of the 'league of atonement.' These men were less than saints in college, and one of their pranks went horribly wrong. The victim was crippled, and lives were impacted. So why is this league 'frightened'? Well, it starts with the death of one or two of its members. After the first death, an anonymous letter--a poem, I believe--was sent to the others. It was a poetic, rambling threat. Another member dies unexpectedly, another letter was delivered. This causes alarm. At first Rex Stout did not take the case seriously, this was when one of the members turns up at his house alone and acting very strange. But weeks later when this man has gone missing, well, Stout decides to invite the other members to his house and take on their case. Many fear it is this 'victim' that has turned dangerous, wild, unpredictable. If Wolfe can alleviate their fears, then he'll be paid. 

I found this case to be confusing and a bit strange. But it does star Nero Wolfe and Archie, so even though it was confusing at times, it had its moments of delight. I am so glad I didn't try to read this series in order or I'm not sure I'd have bothered reading on.

I do recommend Rex Stout as a mystery writer. This may not be my favorite Nero Wolfe, but overall his series is great. 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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