Fer-de-Lance (Nero Wolfe)
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As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. As for Wolfe, he's playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda -- whistling a seductive tune he hopes will catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart.
determined, and I realized that with my phone call I must have scared her some more without wanting to. I should have been a little more explanatory; I don’t believe in pulling a dog’s tail if there’s anything else to do. I got up. She didn’t sit down. “I’ll only keep you a minute,” I said. “I wouldn’t have bothered you, only I ran across something that made me curious. Please tell me, was your father’s birthday April ninth?” She looked as if she was trying to breathe. She nodded. “Did your
nevertheless, when men undertake to meddle in the affairs of violent persons as you and I do, certain duties are assumed and should not be neglected.” I knew it had to be done, but I said, “I’d just as soon give Anderson a piece of information as tip a subway guard.” “Soon, now,” Wolfe replied, “we may be in a position to send him a bill.” Chapter 14 What with stopping to put the ads in and the Friday afternoon summer traffic, by the time I got to the District Attorney’s office in White
“Confound it, Archie, cannot paper be made not to rattle?” I got up. “All right, I’ll beat it. But damn it, where? Have you lost your tongue?” “Anywhere. Go for a walk.” “And return?” “Any time. It doesn’t matter. Dinner.” “Are you waiting for Manuel to bump off his old man?” “Go, Archie.” It seemed to me that he was rubbing it in, since it was already three-thirty and in another half hour he would himself have left to go up to the plant-rooms. But seeing the mood he was in, I got my hat
pulled his hand back again without touching the drawer. He said, “Archie, you have heard me say that I am an actor. I am afraid I have a weakness for dramatic statement. It would be foolish not to indulge it when a good opportunity is offered. There is death in this room.” I suppose I must have involuntarily glanced around, for he went on, “Not a corpse; I mean not death accomplished but death waiting. Waiting only for me perhaps, or for all of us; I don’t know. It is here. While I was upstairs
I have yet to enjoy my chocolate.” I said, “I hope you choke on it,” and turned and left him. With the Carlo Maffei stuff and Anna’s statement on my breast and a thirty-eight, loaded this time, on my hip, I walked to the garage. It was warm and sunny, June twenty-first, the day for the sun to start back south. It was a good day for the finale of the fer-de-lance, I thought, the longest one of the year. I filled up with gas and oil and water, made it crosstown to Park Avenue, and turned north.