Series: #22 in the Nero Wolfe series
Publication Date: 1953
The Short Version:
Corpulent orchid enthusiast and gourmand Nero Wolfe is hired by a young child to investigate a possible kidnapping of a mysterious woman wearing spider earrings.
Why I Read It:
I needed a book with a ‘creepy crawly’ in the title for the What’s in a Name challenge. I can usually find titles for that challenge among the books I’ve already got on my TBR list but this one took some browsing time at the library. I’d never read any of the Nero Wolfe books but had heard of the character so decided to give it a try.
Nero Wolfe is obese, rich, obsessed with gourmet food and his orchids. He never leaves his brownstone yet he’s a famous and successful private detective. His assistant Archie Goodwin tells the story in a wonderfully just sardonic enough way.
This one opens with a young boy coming to Nero Wolfe to report a strange occurrence. He saw a woman wearing gold spider earrings in a car who seemed to be mouthing the words “Get a cop”. Although he didn’t see a gun he thought the man in the passenger seat was threatening the woman.
I’m not going to say much more about the plot because it’s really a shame to learn of any of the twists and turns the case takes before Wolfe and Archie learn them.
As I said above, I’d never read any of the Nero Wolfe books before but I’ve known of the name for years. This was partly due to knowing of the books and also from hearing of but never watching the various television shows.
I checked into the series enough to decide that reading one out of order wasn’t going to be too traumatizing for me. It’s something I rarely do. It didn’t bother me one bit once I started reading. I never felt like I’d missed some big lead in to whatever was going on.
Nero Wolfe is fine but it’s his assistant Archie who is my favorite. That’s probably because he does all the legwork. Wolfe never leaves his house. Archie has a fine wit and the way he tells the story with just the right amount of wry humor. The story was like watching an old movie. I can see why this series has been made into multiple television movies and series.
After reading this one I can assure you that it won’t be my last Nero Wolfe book. The characters of Wolfe, Archie, the chef and clearly recurring law enforcement types interact well and the mystery kept my interest.