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Stout, Rex

(US, 1886–1975)

Choose whichever of Stout's many Nero Wolfe books you come across, since (to the joy of his fans) they are all very similar to each other, but here are two to look out for: Some Buried Caesar (1938) and Before Midnight (1955). Nero Wolfe is one of literature's great detectives. He is hugely fat (and sits in a specially constructed chair), has his own gourmet cook, takes a lift every day to the roof of his New York brownstone house so that he can cultivate his orchids, and does all he can to avoid working. He won't leave the building, but has a sidekick, Archie Goodwin, who does that for him, hurrying around New York collecting clues and corralling suspects who are then ushered back to Wolfe's study so he can point his fat finger at the guilty party. The combination of Wolfe's scepticism, Goodwin's wisecracks, and the world-weary sarcasm of their ally in the police, Inspector Cramer, becomes compulsive.

Raymond Chandler, Georges Simenon  RF

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Sc-Tr)