If books could kill! Nero Wolfe finds one that can. It's the manuscript of a novel and it's no safer to handle than a king cobra. Before Nero unearths this manuscript he first has to connect the strange death of the girl in the part - she's a young editor - with the murder of the man in the law office. Archie nearly sees the third killing. He arrives just two minutes too late.
Having conquered the worlds of gastronomy and orchid raising, Nero - with Archie - here invades the complex realms of book publishing and the legal profession. Nero baffles five lawyers with his knowledge of law and Archie gets up to his neck in New York's leading publishing houses. (His comments on how Macmillan, Harper, Simon and Schuster, and of course, Viking are staffed and decorated should be reprinted in Publishers' Weekly.) Trying to solve this case, Archie has twelve brand-new (to him) girls to examine - one way or another. This is full-length Nero Wolfe at its richest, one of Stout's amplest and headiest mixtures of violence, wit, and puzzlement. We think it is up there with The Second Confession and In the Best Families - in other words, right at the top.
"'A schedule broken at will becomes a mere procession of vagaries.' He strode from the room." (p. 194)
REVIEW: Another excellent story, featuring Archie's dramatic flight to L.A. in search of clues. The mystery opens with the murder of Leonard Dykes, a law clerk. His sister, Peggy, in Bakersfield, CA, joins the ranks of Stout's many brilliant and memorable female protagonists.