The Final Deduction

The Final Deduction
Author Rex Stout
Cover artist Bill English
Country United States
Language English
Series Nero Wolfe
Genre Detective fiction
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
October 13, 1961
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 182 pp. (first edition)
OCLC 1156649
Preceded by Too Many Clients
Followed by Homicide Trinity

The Final Deduction is a Nero Wolfe detective novel by Rex Stout, published by the Viking Press in 1961 and collected in the omnibus volume Three Aces (Viking 1971).

Plot summary

Mrs. Althea Vail tells Wolfe she intends to pay the half-a-million-dollar ransom to the kidnappers, but she wants him to be certain she gets her husband Jimmy back alive and in one piece.

The unfamiliar word

"I work for Nero Wolfe," Archie Goodwin says in Please Pass the Guilt (chapter 10). "He knows more words than Shakespeare knew."

In most Nero Wolfe novels and novellas, there is at least one unfamiliar word, usually spoken by Wolfe. The word "subdolous" appears in chapter 5, when Archie informs Wolfe that Ben Dykes, head of the Westchester County detectives, is at the door. Wolfe speaks to Archie:

"You haven't reported."
"I reported all you said you wanted."
"That's subdolous. Let him in."
As I went to the front I was making a mental note not to look up "subdolous." That trick of his, closing an argument by using a word he knew damn well I had never heard, was probably subdolous.

Cast of characters

Reviews and commentary

Publication history

In his limited-edition pamphlet, Collecting Mystery Fiction #10, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part II, Otto Penzler describes the first edition of The Final Deduction: "Red cloth, front cover and spine printed with blue. Issued in a mainly red dust wrapper."[3]
In April 2006, Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine estimated that the first edition of The Final Deduction had a value of between $150 and $300. The estimate is for a copy in very good to fine condition in a like dustjacket.[4]
The far less valuable Viking book club edition may be distinguished from the first edition in three ways:
  • The dust jacket has "Book Club Edition" printed on the inside front flap, and the price is absent (first editions may be price clipped if they were given as gifts).
  • Book club editions are sometimes thinner and always taller (usually a quarter of an inch) than first editions.
  • Book club editions are bound in cardboard, and first editions are bound in cloth (or have at least a cloth spine).[5]


  1. Barzun, Jacques and Taylor, Wendell Hertig. A Catalogue of Crime. New York: Harper & Row. 1971, revised and enlarged edition 1989. ISBN 0-06-015796-8
  2. Townsend, Guy M., Rex Stout: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography (1980, New York: Garland Publishing; ISBN 0-8240-9479-4), p. 37. John McAleer, Judson Sapp and Arriean Schemer are associate editors of this definitive publication history.
  3. Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #10, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part II (2001, New York: The Mysterious Bookshop, limited edition of 250 copies), p. 13
  4. Smiley, Robin H., "Rex Stout: A Checklist of Primary First Editions." Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine (Volume 16, Number 4), April 2006, p. 34
  5. Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I, pp. 19–20

Quotations related to The Final Deduction at Wikiquote

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