I read this book about 2-Sep-2002. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1936. This note was last modified Thursday, 19-Dec-2002 16:36:20 PST.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Another very old one. The title came up in a recent discussion on rec.arts.sf.fandom, and I didn't remember it, and checked our shelf and eventually found it. So I grabbed it to reread.
Yet again, Nero Wolfe is lured or driven out of his home on business. It says here that Wolfe had lived in it more than 20 years; this seems to conflict with Wolfe's having come to the US shortly after WWI, but perhaps my memory is faulty. (If not, if it's really a timeline glitch, it wouldn't be the first one.) Archie also says he's lived with Wolfe, implying that long, but shortly later Wolfe refers to Archie having done little other than annoy him for eight years. The house is at 918 West 35th Street this time. And Inspector Cramer actually smokes his cigars!
Llewellyn Frost is one of the better clients -- bad from Wolfe's view, but good for a reader. He does stream-of-semi-consciousness dialogue very well indeed. And he bullies Wolfe continuously (in their early meetings, anyway).
By the end, Cramer is due for retirement in 10 years. I don't think he makes it, for whatever reason. There isn't a red leather chair that I could find, though there's a big leather chair that sits over by the globe.
The availability of interesting chemicals is fascinating -- cyanide (potassium cyanide, KCN), nitrobenzine (C6H5NO2). A body could hurt themselves with that stuff -- or someone else. On the other hand, modern sources don't make the nitrobenzene nearly as dangerous as Stout has it.
And there's one of the most desperate traps that Wolfe has ever tried for a criminal.