I dont know if any of you ever read it, but when I'm looking for some pure relax nothing is better than Nero Wolfe. Thank god Stout wrote so much books and short stories you can never run out of something to read. Plus his writing is excellent: fast paced, smart, intelligent, never boring; he fills his books with interesting characters, and Nero Wolfe's personality is as huge as his belly.
for those who dont know who Nero Wolfe is: he lives in New York but he's European; he comes from a small rural village in Montenegro and despite the fact he's been living in the USA for years, never managed to appreciate what a true American likes. He's huge, about 260 lbs, and his only hobby is breeding orchids. He's of course a PI, and probably the best and most expensive one. All the handwork is done by his assistant, Archie Goodwin, a smart talking, fast moving all-american guy from Ohio. When Nero accepts a case, Archie is sent to gain hints, interrogate people and basically do whatever a PI should do if alone...then Nero analyzes everything and solves the case with his terrific intelligence
Archie is the exact opposite of Nero: Nero never (almost) leaves his home, women scare him expecially when they cry, and he eats nothing but top-rated recipes prepared by his personal cook Fritz; Archis loves women, he's athletic and rather intelligent, hot-dogs don't scare him and hes frequently irritated by Nero's lazyness.
I happen to like even what is considered to be the weakest Nero story, "The black mountain"; in which he travels back to his native Montenegro to track back who killed his best friend
One thing that bugs me sometimes is Archie's slightly racist attitude: he calls black, italian and chinese people in some unfunny ways, he basically makes fun of the English and Japanese and in the first book of the serie he calls an Argentinian guy "a filthy bastard" just to point out that he's half latin half american. It does never get too far tho; Nero is way more tolerant than his assistant -maybe because he's himself a immigrant-, but I'd have liked him to slap Archie more often because of his stupid remarks; ye also have to consider most of the books were written in the '40-'50. Anyway, its never funny to read "chimps" or "shines" or "italian guys who looked like small demons" (this last line may be incorrect, I dont remember it very well but it sounded similar)
but besides that, nothing is more entertaining than a good Nero Wolfe novel, at least imho. Only just Sherlock Holmes