Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
American writer Rex Todhunter Stout published this, the first of the Nero Wolf mysteries in 1934. By 1975 there would be 72 Nero Wolfe tales.
A Fer-de-Lance is a very large snake which plays a small, but significant, part in this book. The novel introduces the eccentric genius Nero Wolf, his loyal and street-smart assistant Archie Goodwin, and the various other men who make up the Nero Wolf world. There are women in the stories, but none are part of the core group. I have read various of the Nero Wolf books (and love the TV series) but had not read this one. The way Stout jumps into the story in what is clearly a long established operation worked very well. One of the strengths of this series is that you can jump in anywhere as the basic set-up never changes, only the individual case. It is a fair criticism that the series lacks character development, but the adventure and the puzzle are always a great mix of "little grey cells" and hard-boiled action.
This title is on my Classics Club list and also counts toward the Back to the Classics Challenge as a classic crime story.