“The Silent Speaker” is a Nero Wolfe mystery written by Rex Stout. It was first published in 1945. Nero Wolfe’s interest is piqued by the opportunity for a fee as hefty as himself when the Director of the Bureau of Price Regulation is bludgeoned to death just before he is to deliver a speech to the National Industrial Association, a group of very wealthy business owners. It becomes even more imperative when another murder occurs right on Wolfe’s doorstep.
The story is told in Archie Goodwin’s distinctive style of narration. Archie is Wolfe’s sharp-witted assistant and bodyguard.
For the uninitiated, Wolfe is an overweight genius of a detective who rarely leaves his New York brownstone where he has strict rules regarding his daily tending of his collection of orchids and meal times. He is arrogant, abrasive, and almost always right. Goodwin is a great foil since he is not afraid to push back against his employer’s will and often has to needle him to work. Wolfe employs a gourmet chef who also lives in the brownstone.
This particular novel felt pretty slow to me unfortunately. Stout still demonstrated his gift as a wordsmith effectively, but I had some trouble staying interested in this one. There was still some amusing banter between Wolfe and Archie, however it was not quite enough to keep me as engaged as I like. I didn’t find this a terrible installment in the series, however this was not quite the page turner I hoped for.
Next up, let’s see how Steve Cole presents the current version of a certain traveler in time and space in “Combat Magicks”, one of the latest Doctor Who novels from BBC Books.