Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are all great fun, full of wonderful food and the arcane details of hobbies as diverse as orchid growing and Balkan history. But in this outing, things suddenly become much more serious when Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin face the malevolent forces of J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI minions. Luckily, Stout's heart and his writing style are more than equal to the challenge.
Looking tough at the FBI, January 26, 2003 Reviewer: Glen Engel-Cox from Washington, DC USA Oftentimes the Nero Wolfe books are in some never-never time. You know it's sometime after the second World War, but placing it in the fifties or sixties or seventies can be tough. Except when Stout decides to take on what later became one of his favorite subjects, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In The Doorbell Rang, Stout gets his jabs in at the "privileged" position of the federal investigator, while raising issues many Americans had at the time about a "secret police" which reported, supposedly, only to the president. A true immigrant, Wolfe has more of a feeling for what democracy is and how precious an item it is, and works harder to defend it than the "real" Americans. As always, Stout's prose is clean and crisp, and this is the same book that you expect from him.