Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: THE SILENT SPEAKER by Rex Stout

Well, maybe not so much forgotten, since I reread this all the time. But for those few of us not familiar with Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, it may qualify not only as forgotten but overlooked. If you know my reading tastes, you know I am a devoted Nero Wolfe groupie, so here we go.

Friday's Forgotten Books is a weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE.

Don't forget to check in and see what other forgotten books, other bloggers are chatting about today.

THE SILENT SPEAKER is another of Stout's devilishly plotted, NYC tales of multiple murder. One of which, to Wolfe and Archie's acute chagrin, happens on the brownstone's very doorstep while a high level meeting between suspects, the cops and Wolfe, is going on inside. Not only that, but it happens to a particularly intriguing character.

This time out it is especially hard for Archie who had been enthralled by the victim. It is interesting to see Archie non-plussed.

Not that Wolfe, notoriously lazy, wants to go to work, but the exchequer is barren at the moment. Barely enough to pay Archie's salary, let alone maintain the luxurious orchid-central lifestyle of his boss. PLUS, there's those pesky quarterly taxes to pay.

So, work Wolfe must.

I call it Operation Payroll.  That name for the preliminary project, the horning-in campaign, was not, I admit, strictly accurate. In addition to the salaries of Fritz Brenner, Charley the cleaning man, Theodore Horstmann the orchid tender, and me, the treasury had to provide for other items too numerous to mention. But on the principle of putting first things first, I called it Operation Payroll.

It was Friday morning before we caught the fish we were after.

The Boone Case was the big fish, Wolfe and Archie were trawling for.

Cheney Boone, Director of the  government's Bureau of Price Regulation had been invited to make a speech at a dinner of the National Industrial Association - two groups who are perpetually at each others' throats - in the Grand Ballroom of the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel. About 1500 people in attendance.

While going over his notes and waiting to make his entrance in a side room off stage, he is brutally murdered.

Eventually, by Wolfe and Archie's clever machinations, Wolfe is called upon to solve the case which almost gets Inspector Cramer a one way ticket to palooka-ville.

Another winner.


  1. I just reread this one a couple of months ago and enjoyed it a lot. For some reason I'd forgotten a great deal of the story, which made it even more fun.

  2. Richard: I generally do forget most of the story -certainly I forget the details - so reading some of these books is like reading them again for the first time.

  3. I haven't caught up with this one yet, but am always happy to come across a "Stout" or a with Wodehouse, I think I'm rationing them through time...

  4. Todd: This is a good one! One of my faves. It's also, I think, a bit longer than some of the other Wolfe books. Don't miss it!

  5. I remember this one fondly, Yvette - and I must say the notion of Inspector Ash banished to the waste land of Staten Island at the end of the book has warmed my heart ever since I first read the book. Lovely. Just lovely.

  6. "A one-way ticket to palooka-ville"? Well, yes, I guess by the end of his career Brando could have played Nero Wolfe.

  7. This is one of the dozen or so Nero Wolfs I have, but haven't read yet. Your review makes me want to dig it out and dive in.

    It has been too long since I read one.

  8. Well, my TBR list for the Wolfepack is huge, and just grew.

    I'm reading The Red Box and it is so light, relaxing and humorous.

    Am wondering whether to read The Rubber Band which is in the same volume.

  9. Les: Revenge is sweet! Poor Cramer. But at least by the end he was back where he belonged as a thorn in Wolfe's side. :)

  10. Steve: Ha! I'm using the expression in more general sense. :)

  11. Randy: Definitely. About time to read it. Actually, there's never a wrong time to read Nero Wolfe. :)

  12. Kathy: The Rubber Band is not as good as The Red Box. But it's still pretty good. I say: read it.

  13. I'll read it, after I read one or two other books which are from the library.

    I like to intersperse the Wolfe/Goodwin detective agency with other reading.

    The Red Box was a lot of fun, quite clever and some scrumptuous repartee between those two. Wolfe's "feel for phenomenon" also came up here. Don't you just love the sound of that phrase? (I wish I could figure out how to use it in my other--mystery-reading -- life.)

    I've read 8, have quite a few to go.

    Will read The Rubber Band soon.

  14. I wish I were as organized about my reading as you, Kathy.

    "...feel for phenomenon..." Let's try and work it into our conversation! :)

  15. This is absolutely my favorite Nero Wolfe book. I cannot believe I found another Rex Stout fan who re-reads the books over and over. And I enjoyed many other of your posts. About art, movies.

  16. Thanks so much, Tak. I am a big Nero Wolfe fan and I just never tire of reading his books. I'm reading OVER MY DEAD BODY again right now for the umpteenth time. I like to read Wolfe during lunch. :)

    If you look on my left hand sideboard, you'll see a Nero Wolfe button if you scroll down. That's where you'll find most of my Wolfe posts and there have been a few of them. :)

    Thanks for dropping by.


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