Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: The Black Mountain

The Black Mountain (Nero Wolfe)The Black Mountain 
by Rex Stout

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Generally I am a big fan of Nero Wolfe mysteries, but this one missed the mark for me. Wolfe leaves the house and travels to the hills of Montenegro (the black mountain of the title is what the country is named for) where he and Archie track their killer -- without Felix or Fred Durkin, or Orrie Cather, or Saul Panzer, or Inspector Cramer. The political statements were a bit thick and Archie's habit of assessing the attributes of every woman he meets was just creepy when the women were the daughters of mountain peasants. The entire story is presented as having been reported to Archie after the fact as he doesn't speak the language it happened in which got old fast. The idea of Wolfe as outdoor adventurer was absurd, but the story was too bleak for it to be comical. I think Wolfe should stick to his firmly established habits and Archie to his native habitat.

This book counts toward the Vintage Mystery challenge in the category Colorful Crime: a book with a color or reference to color in the title. It also counts toward the Colorful Reading Challenge.


  1. I must admit that "The Black Mountain" isn't my favorite either, Mary. It is certainly an outlier, as far as the plots of the Wolfe books are concerned, and I think it's obviously intended to be more of a thriller than a mystery as such. As I recall, aren't Wolfe and Archie supposed to be father-and-son for their cover story in Montenegro? Somehow, I think that would be hard for anyone to believe - even the not-too-bright government toughs they meet... ;-)

    1. Yes, the cover story is that they are father and son and no one bats an eye.

  2. I am a Rex Stout / Nero Wolfe fan. I remember liking this book, although I will admit to its faults that you point out. Maybe I will re-read it this year.

  3. Replies
    1. Sometimes it happens. Even unsatisfactory Nero Wolfs has it's merits.

  4. Mary, it's been a while since I read this one--but I do remember that it's one of my less favorites. I tend not to like the ones where Wolfe & Archie are out of their element. Wolfe isn't supposed to leave the brownstone--that's one of his quirks--and it doesn't seem to me that Stout wrote him as well when he took Wolfe elsewhere.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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