I consider this series to be a US answer to British famous detectives: Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. When it comes to detective fiction, the personality of the character doing the detection can make or break a book, or a series. I am happy to say the personalities of the series' two main characters made them stand as equals among the greatest fictional detectives, including the ones I mentioned.
For the people unfamiliar with the series, the two main characters are Nero Wolfe, a Yugoslavian immigrant and his secretary/bodyguard/sidekick Archie Goodwin who is as American as they come. Nero Wolfe is fat (one of the book mentions he weights one seventh of a ton) and lazy who often has to be forced into taking a job by Archie Goodwin using different persuasion methods. He almost never leaves his home - certainly not for business - and loves growing orchids. He also happened to be a genius at solving crimes.
Archie Goodwin does almost all the legwork and initial interrogation of the witnesses. He is also charged with bringing the witnesses to Wolfe's home to be interrogated by the great detective himself. Archie is all about action and he is just the right guy to counterbalance Wolfe's laziness. He is never afraid of a fight and his wisecracking really makes the series shine.
This book takes place during Great Depression. An operative Wolfe uses sometimes brought a woman of an Italian origin who wants Wolfe's help in locating her missing brother. The detective had to take the case as a personal favor, but as it turns out the case is much bigger then it was seen initially; soon Wolfe and Goodwin had to fight off dangers to their own lives.
I wholeheartedly recommend the series to anybody who wants to read a mystery with quirky characters. Usually the first book of a big mystery series is a little slow because it needs to establish characters, their relationships, etc; in this case you jump straight into the action.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/849045/a-first-book-of-the-series-with-a-very-unusual-detective