The Doorbell Rang Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Doorbell Rang

    Another of Rex Stout's mystery series featuring Nero Wolfe is narrated in the first person by Archie Goodwin. As Mr. Wolfe is famous for "never leaving the house on business" Archie does all the detecting parts while Wolfe does the thinking. Though Archie appears on every page, he is not the main character. Mr. Wolfe is always the main character in his books by dominance of personality. This one begins when a properly vetted rich woman is able to make an appointment to see Wolfe. (This itself can be difficult as he is only open to employment when he "needs" money.) A murder ensues that changes the focus of his new job.
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    As the investigation continues the accumulating clues are inconsistent, leading to the conclusion that the crime scene was tampered with after the homicide. Thus, Wolfe and Archie have three goals. First, the original, to make a famous non-fictional person, J. Edgar Hoover, head of the real FBI, figuratively "eat dirt." Second, solve the murder. Third, discover the who-and-why of the staged murder scene. The murder and murderer are merely a sub-plot used to lampoon the most powerful and, perhaps, most vindictive person in the country. Taking on Hoover at that time in history was a dangerous undertaking for Wolfe and Stout both. Though Hoover himself never appears in these pages he is the "main adversary" throughout. Only on the last page does the title gain meaning.
The review of this Book prepared by Beverly Handley

Nero Wolfe takes on the FBI on behalf of a rich client who feels she is persecuted. The murder mystery is actually a subplot.
The review of this Book prepared by William J. Jones

Nero Wolfe and his assistant, Archie Goodwin battle the FBI in solving a complex murder mystery.
The review of this Book prepared by Michele Winter

Chapter Analysis of The Doorbell Rang

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 60%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 10%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 30% Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical    -   very upbeat Time/era of story:    -   1960's-1970's Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   private investigator Age:    -   40's-50's


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City:    -   New York

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like The Doorbell Rang

Rex Stout Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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