Trio for Blunt Instruments

Trio for Blunt Instruments is a collection of Nero Wolfe mystery novellas by Rex Stout, published in 1964 by the Viking Press in the United States and simultaneously by MacMillan & Company in Canada. The book comprises three stories:

Trio for
Blunt Instruments
First edition
AuthorRex Stout
Cover artistBill English
CountryUnited States
SeriesNero Wolfe
GenreDetective fiction
PublisherViking Press
Publication date
April 24, 1964
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Pages247 pp. (first edition)
Preceded byThe Mother Hunt 
Followed byA Right to Die 

Reviews and commentaryEdit

  • Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor, A Catalogue of Crime — Of these, the first is a compendium of all the author's merits—a fast tale of double murder, drama, conflict with officialdom, banter about love, and a violent ending on Wolfe's premises, where the vulnerable heroine is a refugee. The second has agricultural elements that do not go well with the quasi-sexual drama; and the third is a premeditated crime rather simply untwisted. Archie is good throughout."[1]
  • Anthony Boucher, The New York Times (May 17, 1964) — This time he offers, in addition to two solidly admirable specimens, one that may well be the finest Nero Wolfe case of the past decade. By no means fail to read "Blood Will Tell" — and look forward (like me) to even more impressive mastery from Mr. Stout when he reaches his eighties.
  • John Canaday, The New York Times (May 28, 1964) — Rex Stout, who gives his birth date as Dec. 1, 1886, is either the victim of false records or the beneficiary of a biological aberration, eternal youth. His new New Wolfe threesome, Trio for Blunt Instruments, keeps him right where he has been for so long — on top of the heap and the liveliest of all detective fiction writers.

Publication historyEdit

Bill English dust jacket design
  • 1964, New York: The Viking Press, April 24, 1964, hardcover[2]
    In his limited-edition pamphlet, Collecting Mystery Fiction #10, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part II, Otto Penzler describes the first edition of Trio for Blunt Instruments: "Orange cloth, front cover and spine printed with blue rules; the front cover printed with blue lettering; the spine is printed with black lettering; rear cover blank. Issued in a mainly red pictorial dust wrapper."[3]
    In April 2006, Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine estimated that the first edition of Trio for Blunt Instruments 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 "concept-driven" dustjacket designed by Bill English was cited by graphic design scholar Steven Heller for its spare use of color, sans-serif typography and use of the entire front and back cover area.[5]
  • 1964, New York: Viking (Mystery Guild), June 1964, hardcover
    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).[6]
  • 1965, London: Collins Crime Club, January 1965, hardcover
  • 1967, New York: Bantam #F-3298, January 1967
  • 1997, New York: Bantam Crimeline ISBN 0-553-24191-5 January 1, 1997, paperback
  • 1997, Newport Beach, California: Books on Tape, Inc. ISBN 0-7366-4061-4 October 31, 1997, audio cassette (unabridged, read by Michael Prichard)
  • 2010, New York: Bantam Crimeline ISBN 978-0-307-75629-9 July 21, 2010, e-book


  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. 86. 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. 17
  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. 35
  5. ^ Heller, Steven (July 9, 2015). "Bill English Covers Rex Stout". Print. Retrieved 2015-08-03.
  6. ^ Penzler, Otto, Collecting Mystery Fiction #9, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Part I, pp. 19–20

External linksEdit

  Quotations related to Trio for Blunt Instruments at Wikiquote