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Book Note: Rex Stout, The Doorbell Rang

I read this book about 3-Sep-2001. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1965. This note was last modified Sunday, 09-Jun-2013 14:25:12 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


I just don't think of Rex Stout and Doc Smith as contemporaries; Stout is writing books set very solidly in the past, and Doc Smith was out opening up the galaxy. But this books is copyright 1965—the same year as Skylark Duquesne.

Nero Wolfe takes on the FBI and wins. A client who has mailed 10,000 people a copy of The FBI Nobody Knows (a real book, by Fred J. Cook) is now being harassed by them, and wants them stopped. This book was published in 1965; the Cook, in 1964. Apparently the Cook book was something of a turning point for perceptions of the FBI, and especially of J. Edgar Hoover. He went from being a saint to something of a buffoon. Since then, of course, it's gone even further, with open speculation about the Mafia blackmailing him over his homosexual interests.

I think we can conclude form this book that Rex Stout agreed with Fred Cook. In the last scene, Hoover (not named) rings Wolfe's doorbell, and is not admitted.

This book also may include the most exotic stunt Wolfe ever pulls, including shipping 5 men around the city in orchid crates, hiring actors to impersonate himself and Archie, and getting Fritz so rattled that he forgets to put the truffles in the Périgourdine (when cooking a special dinner for guests, at that). But it works; he manages to catch the FBI burgling his offices, and confiscates their ID for future use against them.



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David Dyer-Bennet