Several months before our story begins, a businessman has been struck down by a hit-and-run driver. Was it murder? One of the firm's executives claims it was, and Nero Wolfe is called in to get proof, if proof exists. But the case involves on-the-spot investigating in the pine-paneled executive offices of a great New York corporation. All Wolfe fans know that the great man never leaves his upholstered, beer-bearing, orchid-blooming habitat, so it falls the the cynical Archie Goodwin to do all the leg work and quite a bit of the thinking.
Archie goes to work for the big corporation and loses all his cynicism by five minutes past nine on the first morning of his new duties. It seems as if the colossal firm of Naylor-Kerr, Inc. must retain a casting director as chief of personnel. How else explain the fact that 500 of America's most beautiful secretaries, typist, file clerks, and receptionists have been gathered under one corporate roof? The presence of these beauties, coupled with the fact that the dead man seems to have been mixed up with an intemperate number of them, makes Archie's investigation involved but scarcely arduous. Among his other tasks, he undertakes to placate a nymphomaniac, to teach a few new pugilistic arts to an angry heavyweight husband, and to make himself agreeable to a rich, handsome, and willing matron. While Archie gathers evidence en passant, Nero sits at home more Buddha-like than ever. The denouement leaves the reader startled and satisfied.
"It was nothing new for Wolfe to take steps, either on his own, or with one or more of the operatives we used, without burdening my mind with it. His stated reason was that I worked better if I thought it all depended on me. His actual reason was that he loved to have a curtain go up revealing him balancing a live seal on his nose." (p. 96)
Pg. 133: Cecily says: Archie's Father is James Arner Goodwin, Mohter is Leslie, he was born in 1914 in Canton Ohio, and he has 2 sisters and 2 brothers
Pg. 141: Shad Roe is $3.00 at lunch at Frisbie's
Read the New York Times review from October 9, 1947
Oh, what a conundrum! Archie confronted with getting to the bottom of a question what he murdered or was he just killed (by accident?) The problem was that he had (just had to) wade through a bevy of beauties to do it. The poor poor man, well he waded and survived. Wolfe connived and connived and played a few dirty hands and won! What a fun story to read, laugh out loud moments throughout the entire story! The crime well, no one was crying over the victims (at least not much) but the chase was the best! All the important secrets were kept and the rest, well - that's what the gossip grapevine is for. [goodreads.com]