The Doorbell Rang

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The Doorbell Rang

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Synopsis of The Doorbell Rang

Rachel Bruner, a wealthy Manhattan widow, has recently incurred the wrath of the FBI.

After reading a book called The FBI Nobody Knows, a prominent critique of the many unethical practices of the Bureau, she has mailed 10,000 copies of it to prominent figures across the country.

Having endured several incidents of harassment and prying, she offers to hire Wolfe to persuade the FBI to leave her alone.

Although initially hesitant of making a powerful enemy, Wolfe is persuaded over Archie’s objections when Bruner offers a $50,000 retainer and then doubles it to $100,000, as well as a fee and any expenses he may incur.

He is also sympathetic to both Bruner’s plight and the arguments made in the book, and decides not to withdraw in the face of what he sees as heavy-handed and bullying opposition tactics.

As the FBI put Wolfe and Archie under surveillance, Wolfe plans to gain examples of FBI malfeasance and use it to persuade the FBI to back down.

Archie’s initial investigations prove fruitless. But he soon receives an anonymous message from Dr. Vollmer, Wolfe’s physician, asking for a clandestine meeting.

Although initially suspecting an FBI trap, Archie is astonished to learn that the message is from Inspector Cramer.

Cramer reveals that the FBI are attempting to have Wolfe and Archie’s private investigator licenses revoked. He also reveals that he suspects that FBI agents may be involved in the murder of Morris Althaus.

Althaus was a freelance journalist who was researching an article critical of the Bureau, two months earlier.

Althaus was found shot to death in his apartment, but the fatal bullet was never recovered. In addition, his research notes were also missing.

Cramer, who is opposed to the FBI’s efforts to sabotage Wolfe and stonewall the police’s homicide investigation, offers to write a report favourable to Wolfe and Archie if Wolfe proves that the FBI are responsible for the murder of Althaus.

Wolfe instead decides that it would serve his purposes better to prove that the FBI had no part in the murder. He also devises a plan to trap the FBI.

Acting on the suspicion that the FBI have secretly bugged Wolfe’s office, Wolfe gathers the key suspects in his office and publicly claims that he is gathering proof that FBI agents murdered Althaus and are covering it up, while directing Archie to conduct his own investigation.

Synopsis of The Doorbell Rang taken from

Series:  Nero Wolfe; 41

Publisher:  Bantam
Year:  2010
ISBN 9780307755896

Language:  English
Format:  eBook


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