Study Guide

The Black Mountain

by Rex Stout

The Black Mountain Themes

Themes

Marko Vukcic was murdered by an agent of the Yugoslav government because he was sending money and supplies to a revolutionary group in the mountains of Montenegro. Wolfe's adopted daughter, Carla, is also deeply involved. Wolfe knows better: "I make my contributions to the cause of freedom — they are mostly financial — through those channels and agencies that seem to me most efficient." But the murder of his friend impels Wolfe to bestir himself and make a special contribution, one that is both practical and symbolic. In contriving, by means of an inimitable blend of ingenuity, stubbornness, and good luck, to learn the identity of the murderer and get him back within reach of the New York police, Wolfe does his job as a detective: He catches the malefactor. In refusing to set aside the laws of civilized society and simply stick a knife into Peter Zov, or let one of several volunteers do it for him, Wolfe makes a powerful statement for the rule of law and against politics by violence and terror.

The quest that takes Wolfe back to his native land confronts him again, in a sense, with the alternatives he weighed when he originally chose to emigrate. He decided to become an American citizen because he valued liberty, and embraced that society which offered him the greatest freedom to live as he saw fit. He left a country with a centuries-old tradition of repression; on his return, he finds that Communism has reduced most Montenegrins to abject skulkers:...

(The entire section is 558 words.)