Nero Wolfe is one of the most famous detectives in fiction. Wolfe is a genius for solving murders but that is not what makes these books worth reading. It is Wolfe's eccentricities combined with the narration of Wolfe's assistant, Archie Goodwin. Rex Stout displays clever and funny writing (especially the dialogs), to keep the story moving. Nero Wolfe is, of course, the incredibly obese detective who rarely leaves his apartment in Manhattan but sends Archie Goodwin, (his hardboiled, skirt-chasing assistant) to gather evidence for him so that Wolfe can sit in his chair and solve the case.
Fer-De-Lance is the first book in the Nero Wolfe series (there are 73 in the series) and it is amazing how fully developed the characters were even in this first book. It has been said that that you can pick up any of the novels in any order and you won't feel out of place. In this story, Wolfe is short of money (a perennial problem as he lives in an expensive apartment, with a chef, a gardener to maintain his precious orchids, and Archie on staff). Wolfe first needs to find a case that can pay him enough and he is lucky enough to find a convenient murder and even better he has a clue that the police don't have as he knows another murder is linked to the first. Slowly, and yet inexorably, Wolfe reels in the murderer and solves the case.
But solving the murder is only a small part of the story. It is the narration of Archie Goodwin, the wonderful dialog, and the uniqueness of Nero Wolfe, that make this a fun story to read. There is little mystery in the actual murder but watching Wolfe crack the case and figure out how to get the evidence against the killer is pure joy.