Did you know that buttons can be deadly?
In The Mother Hunt, written by Rex Stout in 1963, handmade horsehair buttons lead to two murders and the eventual unmasking of the murderer.
In the novel, a baby is left in a young widow's vestibule with a note stating that her late husband is the baby's father. Mrs. Valdon then hires Nero Wolfe to identify and locate the baby's mother. On the clothing that the baby came in are the horsehair buttons which are the only clue to where the child came from.
Nero Wolfe is the eccentric genius detective who is also a hermit, gourmand and orchid fancier. Archie Goodwin is his street savvy, sharply dressed assistant and leg man.
Out of all of the American detectives, Wolfe and Archie are my favourite detective (they act together to form one detective -Wolfe is the brains and Archie is the people person, narrator and observer) and I think that this is my favourite of Stout's novels.
In addition to the pages of the importance of buttons to the crime, we also have Archie Goodwin describing vintage clothing from the male perspective and what he can tell about a woman just by what she is wearing and how she carries herself.
The only adaptation is from Timothy Hutton's 2001/2002 A&E series (it was cancelled all too soon so that A&E could switch to a reality show format. The adaptation with it's rich sets is true to the book and has some of the best examples of period costuming on TV, from bright dresses and furs down to the numerous Deco ties and Archie's colourful suits.
Here is the only clip I could find: