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Old 05-25-2016, 02:57 AM View Post #1 (Link) The Black Mountain by Rex Stout
ScottyMcGee (Offline)
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I found this book purely by chance and decided to read it quickly since it's short - only 192 pages.

I've heard of Rex Stout but only vaguely knew about his famous creation - the detective Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin. So I jumped into this blindly. I went to Farley's Bookshop in New Hope, PA, which is one of my favorite bookstores ever, and ran into this first edition of The Black Mountain in the used section. It was $12 and I love collecting first editions so I thought why not? Something new.

This is what it looks like. I'm only able to get this awkward Amazon photo:


Synopsis:
I gradually learned that Nero Wolfe is an overweight, irritable detective who doesn't go out much or even wants to be bothered. He has his assistant, Archie Goodwin, pretty much do all the work for him. Archie writes down their adventures, so it's like a Holmes/Watson relationship. I didn't need to read any other novels to get this impression though. The characters are pretty fleshed out that I understood their respective roles right away.

In The Black Mountain, one of Nero's good friends is murdered. Nero owes a lot to this friend and eventually goes abroad to Montenegro to solve the mystery. It's rare for Nero to leave the country though, so it'll be a jarring experience for him. More complicated yet, Nero's old friend was wrapped up in a secret revolution to overthrow a communist government.

Prose:
Archie's a fun narrator - I like him. He bounces off a lot of sarcasm from Nero's stubbornness. It's simple writing but not horribly dumbed down like a James Patterson novel. It's much better than that, I'd say.

Story:
Apparently this novel is later in the series. Even though I never read any other Nero Wolfe novel, I felt like this wasn't in its prime. There are several references to previous adventures, but you don't need to read those to understand this. It holds up on its own. The shining aspect of the novel wasn't so much the plot but rather Archie and Nero's relationship. Archie always has to pick up after Nero, and Nero has a habit of not letting Archie in on many things. It's very amusing really. The plot was good though, but the story itself felt rather, well, stale. It took me a bit longer to finish because there was a lull where Nero and Archie are traveling and it felt like just "Oh, we did this, and that, and then we did this, and then this." The only thing that kept me going was Archie's voice as a narrator. The plot was interesting but it was short. Too short. Too simple. But again - Archie and Nero shine as characters and I think that's really the bulk of the enjoyment. I'll totally read one of the earlier adventures, like the first one if I can find it, since I always like to read in chronological order.

Verdict:

It's okay. Nothing to get excited about. It's no Dashiell Hammett. I'm sure there's better Nero Wolfe stories. But it introduced me to two amusing characters that I want to read more about.
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						Last edited by ScottyMcGee; 06-06-2016 at 06:48 PM.
					
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