The Doorbell Rang (Nero Wolfe)
Hired to help society widow Rachel Bruner foil bothersome Feds, Nero Wolfe and his able assistant Archie get in over their heads with highly trained G-men who are adept at bugs, tails, and threats.
the stoop. Not that I recognized him, but it must be—the right age, the broad shoulders, the manly mug with a firm jaw, the neat dark gray coat. I went and opened the door the two inches allowed by the chain bolt and said, “Yes, sir?” He blurted through the crack, “My name’s Quayle and I want to see Nero Wolfe!” “Spell it, please?” “Timothy Quayle! Q,U,A,Y,L,E!” “Mr. Wolfe is engaged. I’ll see.” I went to the office door. “One of the names in my notebook. Timothy Quayle. Senior editor at
lively. Mrs. Bruner had said that she had just talked; perhaps, sent to tell Nero Wolfe about it, she was feeling that she had just talked too much. She said yes, Mrs. Bruner had told her. Wolfe blinked at her. The light there wasn’t like the office, and besides, his eyes had had a hard day. “My interest is centered on Morris Althaus,” he said. “Did you know him well?” She shook her head. “Not really, no.” “You lived under the same roof.” “Well … that doesn’t mean anything in New York, you
stare. “We’re not crashers, and you know it.” “Like hell I do. You crashed. You can explain it to the cops. I’ve warned you. Stay put. Start moving and you’ll get stopped. One of them has a quick finger.” To get to the phone at my desk I had to give them my back. I did, and as I reached for the phone he snapped, “Cut the comedy, Goodwin. You know damn well what we are.” He turned to Wolfe. “We’re agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and you know it. We have touched nothing, and we
and no commitment, and I should make it clear that even if I commit myself and go to work I shall probably never be able to give you any publishable information, no matter what the outcome is. If I can, I will, but I doubt it. Are we in your debt?” “No. On balance, I’m in yours.” “Good. Then I’ll draw on it. Why did Mrs. Bruner send those books?” “I don’t know.” He sipped brandy and moved his lips and cheeks to spread it around before swallowing. “Presumably as a public service. I bought five
desk would appreciate a sanding job, I have never seen the windows really clean, and the chairs, all but Cramer’s, are plain, honest, hard wood. As I put my fundament on one of them at 2:35 p.m. he snapped at me, “I told you don’t come and don’t phone.” I nodded. “But it’s okay now and I had to. Mr. Wolfe—” “What’s okay?” “He has earned the hundred grand and a fee.” “The hell he has. He has got them to quit on that Mrs. Bruner?” “Yes. Bejabers. But we haven’t filled your order. We have—” “I