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The psychology of Rex Stout,
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin
with quotes and reviews for all the Nero Wolfe novels

 


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orientation location map for Nero Wolfe’s brownstone
the Wolfe ménage floor plan of Nero Wolfe’s brownstone
the novels star ratings for the novels [interactive]
other background information and quotes from McAleer Where there’s a will - clue photos
for an easy introduction to Nero Wolfe nero wolfe attempts to dominate pink and green - painting by abelard
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introduction

Learn basic psychological reasoning with Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, with some assistance from Rex Stout. Much of my site, thus far, has been devoted to propagating the advanced technical logic required to discuss psychology and many related issues sanely. With this document, I am finding room to discuss more simple, day-by-day, relational pragmatics. And as a bonus, comes the fun of visiting the Wolfe household.

As usual, I intend to concentrate on the psychology rather than the external life of my target - in this case Rex Stout, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, for they are all one person. A writer of Stout’s quality tends to write about his view of the real world, the characters just being ways of expressing those views; they do not have independent lives as ‘characters’. Stories are not much more than conversations in one man’s head.

Rex Stout has clearly learned to live wisely and well, and his Wolfe novels can be read as an exploration of that achievement. This exploration is a central purpose of the document; apart from the considerable joy of reading this great writer’s amusing and entertaining output. I have selected quotes from the thirty-three Nero Wolfe novels and used those quotes as a vehicle to educate in basic interpersonal behaviour/psychology.

Nero Wolfe is a genius, Stout, his puppeteer, is a clever writer and a man of wide experience who can be assumed to have met several ‘geniuses’; his descriptions are widely perceptive. Without being able, the puppeteer could not write convincingly of genius. The Wolfe genus has sold over 100 million copies and will go down as among the greatest literary creations of the 20th century. Stout is not ‘just another’ writer. His obvious purpose goes far beyond the sugar coating that surrounds the world he examines.

Rex Stout in his youth was paraded around as a boy genius, doing tricks like memorising and calculating large numbers. I have the impression that Stout had somewhat misperceived this sort of skill as indicative of ‘genius’.

I shall mostly concentrate on the thirty-three Wolfe full-length novels written by Stout. In my view, he could not handle the short story format (he produced approximately forty such Wolfe items) with anything like the same conviction, [1] nor did his writing elsewhere rise to the power of the Wolfe books. Stout had been writing for the ‘pulps’ from around 1912, whereas the first Wolfe book appeared in 1934. From his earlier experience, Stout became an extremely practiced formulaic writer. This can make parts of his writing facile, but that should not interfere greatly with the enjoyment of his work.

Stout made himself wealthy in the 1920s with a school-banking scheme and had aspirations to become a ‘literary’ writer. By 1933,[2] he is quoted thus, “ I thought if you’re merely good and not great, what is the use of putting all that agony into it?”, a pretty accurate assessment of his position. McAleer also comments that, “Now he had to bring in an income...”. His new wife was pregnant and by now, he had rescinded most of his claims on the business.

During the Second World War, Rex Stout became a major dedicated force in anti-nazi propaganda. During this time, he produced no full Wolfe novels although Archie did go into uniform and work with Wolfe in the interests of the war effort. By the end of the war and the resumption of the Wolfe series, the more dense semi-literary style has been pretty well replaced by slick, professional writing.

Stout would make interesting study for others wishing to learn craft writing, and even for other psychological studies. His almost fearful responses to women,[3] his shadowed unconfidence, perhaps indicated by his ‘name dropping’, and the ‘guilt’ of his sometimes inhibited style may evoke other studies. However, my interest is limited to the behavioural logic that makes him a useful teacher.

Stout lived an interesting, various and very active life outside his writing, but none of that interests me in terms the psychological lessons that he embedded in the Wolfe novels. I shall use the Wolfe coda to express some basic rules and attitudes to relationships and add some orientation where it seems useful. I shall also include quotes illustrating Archie’s repartee and other quotes illustrative of Stout’s apparent view on the world; I do not intend those additions to much distract from the psychological direction of this document. If you wish to read further into those areas of his life, you are advised to use the references and many web sites with broader objectives.

However, my main source is the thirty-three Nero Wolfe novels.

Rex Stout lived from 1886-1975, reaching the age of 88. Nero Wolfe was born in 1934 and evaporated in 1975, thus Stout was writing Nero’s adventures from the age of 48 until 88. During this period, Stout’s style developed with his growing ability. The early stories do not have the zip and fluency of the later work but they do have more detail and density. Thus there is a movement from the ponderous to the shallow, with Stout’s work being variable as these two elements struggle for dominance and integration. My comments on individual novels can be found later in this document.

orientation

From Rex Stout by J. McAleer. This is the standard biography.

Nero Wolfe is 58, Archie Goodwin 34.

Rex Stout cultivated hundreds of varieties of irises and day lilies (p.xxxv).

Stout was, in part, descended from Quakers on both sides of his family for at least 5 generations. This McAleer catalogues in excruciating and disorganised detail.

“A paean to the primacy of the mind…proof that thought is action” Wallach (p.xx)

“Emily (Stout’s maternal grandmother) McNeal Todhunter, plump and lazy in her special chair, addicted to flowers, dictionaries and atlases, an omnivorous reader, depended upon by her large family to adjudicate all problems”. p.xxviii)

Of course, this is utter nonsense: a very very common but foolish and dangerous notion that thinking is not work.

Clearly, McAleer may be an adequate biographer and recorder of details but he is no Rex Stout or Nero Wolfe, or even Emily McNeal Todhunter! Wallach has a considerably better grasp. Thus, I shall treat McAleer as a useful source of background (doubtless the best, even if somewhat chaotic) and Stout, mainly through Wolfe, as the source of psychological insights.

The references to ‘laziness’ are a running theme throughout Stout’s work, where Archie does such things as refusing to tell Wolfe the time because the exercise of turning his head to look for himself will be good for him. Again the Quaker judgemental puritanism peeps through the pages.

 

the Wolfe ménage

Wolfe lives in a four-story walk-up brownstone house at 918 W 35th Street, New York.


New York - W35th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues


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His staff of three - Archie Goodwin, legman and detective assistant, Fritz Bremmer, Swiss super cook and Theodore Hortsmann, orchid master - all live in the house.

Archie Goodwin is also prominent in his role of narrator of the stories. Thus in my comments on the individual books, the speaker can be assumed to be Archie unless I indicate that it is the speech of others being ‘reported’. Archie has many of the best lines; and oft draws comments akin to Wolfe’s “you’ll clown at your funeral” (p. 111, The Black Mountain).

The orchids are on the top floor, where Wolfe spends much of his time “playing with his orchids” in Archie’s words. There are four rooms: tropical, intermediate, cool and a potting room. The office is on the ground floor, there is a billiard room in the basement and bedrooms are on intermediate floors.


very rough sketch plan of Nero Wolfe’s brownstone house

Nero is often described as weighing one-seventh of a (short/‘American’) ton, that is, one-seventh of 2,000 lb avoirdupois or 907.18474 kg. That is around 20 stone or 130 kilos, disgusting but perhaps not quite obscene![4] The obesity is in part a literary device to keep Wolfe seated in his office chair where most of his serious work and reading and thinking occurs. However, Wolfe does, in fact, leave the house fairly often, despite the constant repetitions that such events are rare. His main exercise is to work in the plant rooms full of orchids on the top floor of the brownstone (the journey to the plant rooms managed by lift), or to walk to the dinner table.

Legwork is undertaken by the wise-cracking Archie Goodwin, who also has the duty of stinging Wolfe into the serious hard work of thinking about his cases rather than reading, attending to his orchids or ‘studying’ cookery. Wolfe is far too competent and efficient ever to waste energy flippantly - it is the detection work that pays the rent and staff etc, mentioned at figures like $10,000 a month in the days when that had far more value than now. Wolfe works primarily for money, but also often for a shyly deprecated sense of justice.

Other regular characters are visitors. These include the bumbling, emotional, frustrated, overworked Inspector Cramer of the murder squad, commonly the butt of Wolfe’s genius, a somewhat disgruntled Purley Stebbins, his assistant, who is no fool, and Rowcliffe, another subordinate, who is a dedicated oaf.

Outside the household, but active in Wolfe’s circle, are:

  • Principally, three, day-rate detectives: the high flying Saul Panzer, the steady Fred Durkin, and the vain impulsive Orrie Cather, who constantly dreams of replacing Archie.
  • Neighbour Dr. Vollmer is often on hand to pronounce yet another convenient (or inconvenient) corpse dead and sometimes to carry a message when the regulars may be noticed.
  • Nathaniel Parker is called in when Nero wants some legal advice or to pull some semi-dubious finesse.
  • While Lon Cohen, reporter on the Gazette, is often a source for the current scuttlebutt around New York in exchange for a scoop on the latest case, or a good meal by Fritz at the Wolfe table.
  • A lesser role is that of Rusterman’s restaurant and its part owner, Marko Vukcic, (a fellow Montenegrin), managed in partnership with Wolfe and shadowy others.
  • Lastly, there is the very handsome Archie’s incredibly wealthy socialite lady friend, Lily Rowan, who “knows what men are for - and what they are not for”, and who we are coyly and regularly reminded dances excessively well.


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the novels

The 5-star rating system can only be my guide to readers. Very probably, you may find and develop your own favourites that are not congruent with my own rankings.

1

Fer-de-Lance (1934) aka ‘Meet Nero Wolfe’ aka ‘Point of Death’ **
2 The League of Frightened Men (1935) aka ‘Frightened Men’ ** ½
3 The Rubber Band aka To Kill Again (1936) ***
4 The Red Box aka The Case of the Red Box (1937) *
5 Too Many Cooks (1938) *****
6

Some Buried Caesar aka The Red Bull (1939)

****
7

Over my Dead Body (1940)

****
8

Where There’s A Will (1940)

**
9 The Silent Speaker (1946/7) ***
10 Too Many Women (1948) **
11

More Deaths Than One aka And Be a Villain (1948-9) (first Zeck novel)

****
12

The Second Confession (1949) (second Zeck novel)

****
13

In the Best Families (1950) aka Even in the Best Families (third Zeck novel)

*****
14

Murder by the Book (1952)

***
15 Prisoner’s Base aka Out Goes She (1953) *** ½
16

The Golden Spiders (1953/4)

****
17 The Black Mountain (1954) ****
18 Before Midnight (1956) ***
19 If  Death Ever Slept (1957) ***
20 Might as Well Be Dead (1957) *
21 Champagne for One (1959) ***
22 Plot It Yourself aka Murder in Style (1959) ***
23 Too Many Clients (1960) *****
24 The Final Deduction (1961) ***
25 Gambit (1962) ****
26 Mother Hunt (1963) ****
27 A Right to Die (1964) **
28 The Doorbell Rang (1965/6) **** ½
29 Death of a Doxy (1966) ***
30 The Father Hunt (1968) ***
31 Death of a Dude (1969) ****
32 Please Pass the Guilt (1973) **
33 A Family Affair (1975) *

 

1 Fer-de-Lance (1934) **
The first Wolfe novel, convoluted and arty. Compared with the later books, it is written as if coy or embarrassed. Cumbersome and rather dense for easy reading.

2 “…That is of course the advantage of being a pessimist; a pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant…”.
Wolfe on tasting legal beer after being used to bootleg.
13 “…he darted around at random on things so irrelevant and inconsequential that anyone who had never seen him pull a rabbit out of a hat before would have been sure he was merely a nut…”
A typical reaction of those coming into contact with ‘genius’, what they cannot understand must be ‘nuts’ or ‘stupidity’. An interesting insight into the arrogance of fools!
21 “…Since I entered this room you have made nothing but mistakes. You were without courtesy, which was offensive. You made a statement contrary to fact, which was stupid. You confused conjecture with knowledge, which was disingenuous…”
28 “When I am driving I don’t see much of anything except the road, for I have the type of mind that gets on the job and stays there until it is time for another one…”
59 “…You must pardon me; for engineering reasons I arise only for emergencies”
62 “…your errand is too important to let a momentary resentment ruin it…”
66

“…This is a speech, Miss Barstow; please hear all of it…”

121 “…Hadn’t I better try to persuade the boys to keep it in the family?”
“No, Archie. It is always wiser, where there is a choice, to trust inertia…”
133

“…Of course every man has to take the risks of his profession.”

147 “…she is a good girl, no matter if her head is full of flies.


2 The League of Frightened Men (1935) aka Frightened Men ** ½
A damn awful piece of writing, but interesting for all that. This is more like a rather foolish examination of Stout’s own rather trivial psychology than a Nero Wolfe book, though I do suppose he had to get it off his mind before writing the ‘real’ Wolfe collection.

This book is considerably longer than the rest of the set. Stout earlier wrote several such ponderous, pseudo-psychological works before settling down to Wolfe. Two and a half stars because of its Stout interest, not because of its place as a book about Nero! Oh yes; and the story is in the title.

122

“...God made you and me, in certain respects, quite unequal, and it would be futile to try any interference with His arrangements.”

124

On the foolishness of fantasising scenarios in the absence of data: “Patience, Archie; if you eat the apple before it is ripe your only reward is a bellyache.”

192 “... I have learned that psychology, as a formal science, is pure hocus-pocus. All written words, aside from their function of relieving boredom, are meaningless drivel ...”
It seems to me likely that it was this realisation that allowed Stout to move his writing onto a more useful and realistic level.
196 On foolish detachment: “... my mental equipment has reached the decadence which sneers at the blood which feeds it, ...”
224 “... a nurse that pushes a perambulator in the park without putting the baby in has missed the point ...”
280 “... I saw that he was acute and intuitive ....”
Interesting, as this is a description of a good mind befuddled and limited by emotionalism; whereas Stout, at least in the earlier novels, misperceives this as ‘genius’.
283-4 “... You cannot be at the same time juridical and partisan, at least not with any pretence at competence.”
 
3 The Rubber Band aka To Kill Again (1936) ***
A bit busy. A Wild West story returns to haunt the participants, including an English duke.
21-2 “…I don’t read much. One reason, I’m so damn suspicious I don’t believe it even if I do read it, so it don’t seem worth the trouble…”
92 “…But you are an old man, so there is humanity’s debt to you…”
94 On females: “…Not that I disapprove of them, except when they attempt to function as domestic animals. When they stick to the vocations for which they are best adapted, such as chicanery, sophistry, self-adornment, cajolery, mystification and incubation, they are sometimes splendid creatures…”
124 “…I was as busy as a pickpocket on New Year’s Eve…”
148 …”But my dear sir, since all life is trouble, the only thing is to achieve a position where we may select varieties…”
185 On the UK: “…he seemed fairly primitive to me, even for a guy who had spent most of his life on a little island.”
213 “Wolfe said patiently, “Interruptions can only waste time, by forcing me to begin my sentences over again…”
235 “…I knew perfectly well why Wolfe didn’t always point out to me the hole he was getting ready to crawl through: he knew that half the time I’d be back at him with damn good proof that it couldn’t be done, which would only have been a nuisance, since he intended to do it anyway. No guy who knows he is right because he’s too conceited to be wrong can be expected to go into conference about it.”


4 The Red Box aka The Case of the Red Box (1937) *
Fashion house - Badly written. Stout seems to be struggling with the characters of the Wolfe household. This is so off-key that it is hardly a Nero Wolfe story, but it may be of interest to a reader wishing to trace the roots of the series. Pola, Stout’s new wife, was involved in the fashion business - I even wonder whether she ‘helped’ him with this book!

33 “…I know you are young, and your training has left vacant lots in your brain;…”
58 “…I’m a great one for the obvious, because it saves a lot of fiddling around…”
154 On torture: “…They say it works sometimes, but even if it does, how could you depend on anything you got that way? Not to mention that had you done it a few times any decent garbage can would be ashamed to have you found in it…”
184 “…As I understand it, a born executive is a guy who, when anything unexpected happens, yells for somebody else to come and help him.”

5 Too Many Cooks (1938) *****
A real romp, good fun. Wolfe goes to a cook’s convention in West Virginia. What is it about detectives that wherever they go, sure as blazes someone gets murdered? Keep away from detectives! Here is where Nero and Archie really start to hit their stride.

88 “…What the tongue has promised the body must submit to.”
137 “She told him quietly, “I am not hysterical.”
“Of course you are. All women are. Their moments of calm are merely recuperative periods between outbursts …”
139 “…a hole in the ice offers peril only to those who go skating …”
140 “…Do you realize that that fool is going to let that fool make a fool of him again?”
161 “I have often noticed that the more beautiful a woman is, especially a young one, the more liable she is to permit herself unreasonable fits…”


6 Some Buried Caesar aka The Red Bull (1939) ****
Archie meets Lily Rowan under difficult circumstances involving a prize bull. Racy, well written and well paced. Tails off a bit!

60 Lily Rowan, Archie’s rich lover: “I don’t suppose I’ll marry. Because marriage is really nothing but an economic arrangement, and I’m lucky because I don’t have to let the economic part enter into it. The man would be lucky too--”
85

“He’s done a lot of talking”
“Thank God I didn’t have to listen to it”

87 “You can’t be expected to see what I’m accomplishing; if you could do that, you could do the job yourself.”
106 “No. Come-- and help me admire some stupidity.”
117 “Just so. I can excoriate stupidity, and often do, because it riles me, but moral indignation is a dangerous indulgence.”
172 “One test of intelligence”, he said patiently, “is the ability to welcome a singularity when the need arises, without excessive strain. Strict rules are universal. We all have a rule not to go on the street before clothing ourselves, but if the house is on fire we violate it….”
191 Archie: “Stop! Stop and take a breath. Weddings are out. They’re barbaric vestiges of…of barbarism. I doubt if I’d go to my own.”

7 Over My Dead Body (1940) ****
In this story, Nero’s long lost adopted daughter turns up from Montenegro[5], some eighteen (?) years later, in New York; provoking much teasing by Archie - “maybe we’ll get married and I’ll have to start calling you dad!”. During the narrative, Nero explains that he has allowed his large weight as an inhibition upon the impulsiveness that may otherwise have threatened his life.
Filmed for TV.

20 “…No matter how many tricks you learn, life knows a better one….”
65 …“don’t degrade discretion into secretiveness…”
86

Action man Archie, getting over-enthusiastic in the protection of his master, is told by Wolfe:
“You’ll have to learn to control that, Archie. Physical duress, unless carried  to an intolerable extreme, is a miserable weapon”, a comment fully in accord with experimental psychology.

121 "My son," he said in a tone of civilised exasperation, "is a little bit green. It is unavoidable that youth should arrange people in categories, it's the only way of handling the mass of material at first to avoid hopeless confusion, but the sorting out should not be too long delayed. My son seems to be pretty slow at it. He overrates some people and underrates others. Perhaps I've tried to rush it by opening too many doors for him. A father's conceit can be a very disastrous thing".


8 Where There’s A Will (1940) **
A peach for April, a pear for May and an apple for June. This is the last novel prior to WW2. It is rather tedious and wordy, with an uncooked centre.

The book was originally issued with six photographs showing the clues used by Wolfe. In the original, a major error was made with the photographs by setting them in winter instead of summer, causing Rex Stout problems with his fan mail. I would expect some fans also commented upon the inappropriately sylph-like figure alleged to be Nero. Unfortunately, these photos have not been produced in any issue since, doubtless saving the publishers money, but removing some authenticity.

I have decided to put copies of these photographs on the abelard.org site to add to the historic record and for the amusement and enjoyment of readers of Where there’s a will. This is at least until a good quality version of this book is reissued with the original photographs (an alert publisher would also discover a more likely set of photographs among Wolfe’s records). They were included in the book so that readers might see the data used by Nero Wolfe to solve the case, in order that they could have a go at it themselves. Strangely, the photographs are not presented in time order.

In the original edition, all the photographs are printed on one page (opposite p.221) and look rather like a contact sheet from an old black-and-white 35 mm film. The original page measures 7½ by 5 inches (19 x 12.7 cm). The six photos are each 1½ by 1 inch (3.8 x 2.5 cm), and thus only take up less than one quarter of the page. Indeed, Wolfe would have needed his magnifying glass to examine the details, some of which details were doubtless lost in printing them for the book (at between 100 to 150 dots per inch). Therefore, I have enlarged the photos for this web-page to an appropriate level prior to where the image breaks down into dots. The area for each photo is now approximately four times the original.


six photographs from the 1940 first edition of Where there’s a will by Rex Stout

Hover for descriptions of the photos (text version, with time order added).
Click if you want to find out what Nero Wolfe noticed.

[Note that the above image is optimised for a computer screen set to accurate pixelation. At other settings, the printed screen may clash with the pixels of the digital image to create a moiré pattern. The dots seen on the image above are a consequence of the screen used to create the original printed image.]

9 Of Wolfe: “…we need the services of an able, astute, discreet and unscrupulous man.”
43 “…Most girls walking along a busy sidewalk with you, are either clingers, divers, or laggers, and I don’t know which is the worst.”
77 “…He’s a fairly shrewd and capable Wall Street lawyer, with the natural flexibility in ethics and morals that is a functional necessity in his environment, …”
91 “Good morning Jeeves. I’m Lord Goodwin…”

9 The Silent Speaker (1946/7) ***
A hunt for a stenographer’s cylinder, some dated politics. Wolfe decides to get himself certified insane.
Filmed for TV.

51 “… Any girl who needed a rest would go anywhere with Mr. Goodwin, because she wouldn’t have to use her mind…”
118 “… I looked at the wall clock. It said two minutes to four. I looked at my wrist-watch. It said one minute to four. In spite of the discrepancy it seemed safe to conclude that it would soon be four o’clock …”
177

“…Wolfe was in bed. Wolfe in bed was always a remarkable sight, accustomed to it as I was. First the low footboard, of streaky anselmo – yellowish with sweeping dark brown streaks – then the black silk coverlet, next the wide expanse of yellow pyjama top, and last the flesh of the face. In my opinion Wolfe was quite aware that black and yellow are a flashy combination, and he used it deliberately just to prove that no matter how showy the scene was he could dominate it. I have often thought I would like to see him try it with pink and green …”

nero wolfe attempts to dominate pink and green - by abelard
nero wolfe attempts to dominate pink and green - by abelard
© abelard and abelard.org, 2005

185 “yeah. The scientific name for the disease you’ve got is acute malignant optimism.”


10 Too Many Women (1948) **
Set in a large typing pool.

80 “Wolfe was reading three books at once. He had been doing that, of and on, all the years I had been with him, and it always annoyed me because it seemed ostentatious”.
A strange remark as most of the brightest people I know do this, some as many as six or more books, probably as a remedy for boredom and to give their minds time to absorb the various content. Perhaps this is an observation of reactions among simpler minds; but Archie is not being presented as a fool even though he is being presented as a butt for the ‘great man’, and a man of action with mundane interests.
89 Archie speaking to a female: “ “No you don’t,” I said firmly. “In the first place, I didn’t say that. In the second place, one of my favourite rules is never to let a woman start an argument about what she said and what I said…..”
A common problem that in the past required a tape recorder; now we have the Internet where every word stays in the record. Optimistically, we may soon hear the end of much “he says, she says” as the world comes to recognise the the fragility of memory and the instability of language.

11 More Deaths Than One aka And Be a Villain (1948-9) ****
(first of three Zeck novels, Zeck is Nero’s Moriarity)
Radio Show. Tipster sheets and blackmail. Very fluent. Stout was a radio host during WW2.

412 Zeck appears for the first time.
471 “…I am not incapable of using force on a woman, since after all men have never found anything else to use on them with any great success when it comes right down to it…”
476 “…She had good luck, but most of the bad luck goes to the fumblers…”


12 The Second Confession (1949-50) ****
(second of three Zeck novels)
Wolfe has his orchids shot up and screws up the peace of mind of some commies. Complex, interesting and well written.

137 “…She hasn’t worked her way out of the notion that you can have independence without earning it…”
139 On communism: “…She says it’s intellectually contemptible and morally unsound. I told you she’s smart enough…”
145 …He sighed. “if it could be managed to keep one’s self-esteem without paying for it…”
276 “you use too many adjectives,” Wolfe said dryly. For me it was cheap filthy little worm. Now, for you[rself], it is conceited nosy little fool”…
279 …“you may have got to honesty, Miss Sperling, but there is still sagacity.”…


13 In the Best Families (1950) aka Even in the Best Families  *****
(third of three Zeck novels)
Wolfe goes on the lam – and loses 7 stone! A ripping yarn.

175 Zeck, the cold murderous super criminal: “You have much to learn Goodwin. People must not be deprived of hope. If we take a large share of Rackham’s fortune he will be convinced we intend to wring him dry. People must feel that if our demands are met the outlook is not intolerable…”
177 Zeck again, on being told brashly by Archie, “I don’t like you”: “…No one likes me. No one likes the authority of a superior intellect…”
An unfortunate weakness in most humans.
183

“…There are only two ways for people to work together: when everybody trusts everyone or nobody trusts no one…”
To work together a basic decision is whether to trust, it is often simpler to trust and forget about it. If you get ripped off, you can deal with that when it comes; at least you will then know whether trust is available. Worrying endlessly about trust is usually complete energy waste – for you simply cannot know in advance.

14 Murder by the Book (1952) ***
Company of lawyers hunt for a dangerous manuscript written under a pseudonym. Archie takes a trip to California.

81 “…Sometimes an unresponsive answer is the most revealing, almost as good as a lie….”.
Useful to keep in mind when listening to politicians!
84 “…He would be an ideal judge. He has the kind of daring mind that glorifies in deciding an issue without understanding it.”
85 “…‘Bore’ is an active verb. I am merely indifferent.”


15 Prisoner’s Base aka Out Goes She (1953) *** ½
Bounces along, Archie is the client, Venezuela has a walk-on part.
Filmed for TV.

64 “…I am not bragging of my extreme sensitiveness to hostile touch, since it is shared by all the animals ;…” Here follows some classy verbal fireworks. [see also Champagne for one, p.64]
66 “…A paradise for puerility…”
99 “…One of his [Wolfe’s] deepest conviction was that no vehicle propelled by machine, from a scooter to an ocean liner, could reasonably be expected ever to reach its destination, and that only a dunce would bank on it…”

16 The Golden Spiders (1953/4) ****
Exploiting displaced persons. Well paced, smooth as silk.
Filmed for TV.

13 On ego: “…as I am using the term it means the ability to play up everything that raises your opinion of yourself and play down everything that lowers it…”
34 Archie considering the romantic potential of a lady: “…She was about my age, which was not ideal, but I have nothing against maturity as long as it isn’t overdone.”
83 “Maddox was looking as if someone were trying to persuade him that his nose was on upside down.”
120 “…but I had promised my grandmother that I would never spout just to show people how much I knew, so I skipped it….”
177 “…I tell you, commissioner, there ought to be a law against eyewitnesses.”
A lesson that society has yet to learn.


17 Black Mountain (1954) ****
Marko Vukcic, Nero’s boyhood friend is murdered; Wolfe sets off for Monte Negro to avenge him.

14 On being criticised for describing Marko as he was: “…You share the common fallacy, but I don’t. I do not insult Marko. I pay him the tribute of speaking of him and feeling about him precisely as I did when he lived;…”.
Stout regularly expresses disdain for hypocrisy, cliché and fashion.

18 Before Midnight (1956) ***
Perfume poem quiz designed by an advertising agency. Fluent, well written.

10 On not intruding: “There’s no one else on earth I could stand in the same room while I’m eating breakfast and reading the morning paper [of Fritz]. When you speak you leave it entirely up to me whether I reply, or even whether I listen…”
  On the difficult notion of trust: “If you hire him, you either trust him or you don’t”
71

“…a bill introduced into the English Parliament in seventeen seventy…

“All women of whatever age, rank, profession, or degree, whether virgins, maids, or widows, that shall, from and after the Act, impose upon, seduce, and betray into matrimony, any of His Majesty’s subjects, by any scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high heeled shoes, bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanours and the marriage, upon conviction, shall stand null and void.”
A version of the trades description legislation!

75 On business: “The men who have made it, who have got up around the top, most of them spend a lot of their time kicking the faces of the ones who are trying to climb…”
76

“…but he had real brains and there’s no substitute for brains…”

76

“…He could sell a hot-water bottle to a man on his way to hell…”

76-7 “…It’s not just words, you’ve got to have ideas before you’re ready for words…”
81 On Cramer: “…He was gruff, but he would be gruff saying his prayers.”
111 “…Tell who? His client is Lippert, Buff and Assa, but there is no such person as Lippert, Buff and Assa, it would have to be one of you…”
114 On‘if’: “…There was an elegant little model of a completely equipped super-modern kitchen, about eighteen inches long, that I would have taken home for a doll’s house if I had had a wife and we had had a child and the child had been a girl and the girl had liked dolls…”
151 “…He wanted, first to know, in advance, exactly what Wolfe was going to say [do], which was ridiculous because most of the time Wolfe didn’t know himself…”


19 If  Death Ever Slept (1957) ***
Set in the house of a capitalist and his family. Fluent enough, rather abrupt close.

15 “…That just shows what God could do if only he had money.”
Quoted and attributed to George Kaufman.
69 “…You will be guided by your intelligence and experience….”
Oft repeated advice to Archie by Wolfe.
20 Might as Well Be Dead (1957) *
A man leaves his family, goes to New York and changes his name after being falsely accused of theft. Lightning strikes twice as he then gets accused of murder. One of the more uninspired efforts. Name changes are used copiously in the series as a means of introducing confusion.
10 “ [Paul] Herold had a three-inch scar on his left leg, on the inside of the knee, from a boyhood accident”. This is typical and widespread in the Wolfe books, for Stout had a similar injury from a similar cause. See pp xi and 44 in McAleer.
41-42

Wolfe: “…though you have no voice you certainly have an interest and it deserves to be weighed”. [The speaker had claimed to have a voice in a decision.]
This insistence on individual freedom of action and decision is a very strong thread running through the books, an attitude doubtless from his Quaker background. There is no usurping Wolfe’s individual responsibility and freedom of action, a lesson that, if more widely disseminated in Western society, would improve public behaviour. Essentially this is a lesson in resistance to personal intrusion.

40 & 61

“I didn’t ham it, but I gave them all the words, which was no strain, since the only difference between me and a tape recorder is that a tape recorder can’t lie.”
Of course this is sloppy, the human can make relationships between information and words; a tape recorder cannot. Archie is represented as having a highly trained and reliable memory. This is an extremely difficult skill and I doubt that ‘Archie’s’ assessment of his own memory is as reliable as Stout would wish to represent it.

“Before we’re through you’ll be remembering lots of things you would have thought impossible….”

57 ….“You think it because there’s nothing else for you to think, and anyhow you’re not really thinking. You’ve been hit so hard that you’re too numb to think.”.
As usual, the concentration on the conditions for clear thinking, after an emotional shock clear thought is difficult.
“ I only think well when my mind is calm”, M. Botvinnik (ex-world chess champion).
58 “Then just forget our difference of opinion, because opinions don’t count anyway…”
Again as ever the insistence on reason and logic, opinion is of course generally useless, only data from the real world has substance.
62

“I don’t know why, but this seems tougher than it was with the police and the District Attorney. That seems strange and you’re a friend-you are a friend aren’t you?”

It was a trap, and I dodged it. “I want what you want,” I told her.
Consider whether there is any difference between a friend and someone who wants the same as you. As I was once asked “How do you know if a person loves you or if they are just pretending to love you?” There is no useful answer to that

63 “Fred Durkin, big and burley and bald, knows exactly what he can expect of his brains and what he can’t, which is more than you can say for a lot of people with a much bigger supply.”
More useful commentary on the relationship between intelligence and sense.
80 “when feeling takes over sense is impotent
90 “the more you put into your brain, the more it will hold - if you have one”.
Maybe a version of “use it or lose it”.
119 Wolfe: “Because both my curiosity and my cupidity have been aroused, and together they are potent”.
144 Wolfe: “No. What time does the morgue close?”
Archie: “That’s one way I know he’s a genius. Only a genius would dare to ask such a question after functioning as a private detective for more than twenty years right there in Manhattan, and specialising in murder.”
A matter of attending to relevance.


21 Champagne for One (1959) ***
An evening party for unwed mothers, well written, competent.
Filmed for TV.
42 “Cramer’s red face was getting redder, a sure sign that he had reached the limit of something and was about to cut loose, but a miracle happened: he put the brake on in time. It is a pleasure to see self-control win a tussle…”
56 “Then it was a remarkable coincidence. In a world that operates largely at random, coincidences are to be expected, but any one of them must always be mistrusted.”
64 “…they are three of the nine or ten people to whom Wolfe willingly offers a hand.” [Saul, Orrie and Fred]
122 “…Do you know what a genius is? A genius is a guy that makes things happen without his having any idea that they are going to happen…”
A complex idea that has kernels of truth.
1. Following rules known to get results without knowing why the rules work.
2. Helping others to work out answers to their own problems without any clear notion of what those problems are. This is achieved by guiding another person to apply clear reason to their own thinking without having much idea what the problem that is irritating them is about.
22 Plot It Yourself aka Murder in Style (1959) ***
Plagiarism, blackmail and murder. Escapist and competent.
87 “… It’s fine to have a conscience, but you can’t let it run wild.”
98 “… I gather that she is daft, and therefore unpredictable …”
159 “… I was thinking that no matter how good you think you are at sizing people up, you can never be sure how well a certain specimen can do a certain thing until you see him try …”
174 “… A lie isn’t a lie if it is reply to a question that the questioner has no right to ask.”
An excellent rule of life.


23 Too Many Clients (1960) *****
A gorgeous secret love nest; a ‘bower of carnality’. Very fluent writing.
Filmed for TV.
13

“Where is he?”
He yawned, “All I know is where he isn’t.”

74 Her eyes widened. “Of course not.” 
He shook his head. “No, miss McGee. No assumption is of course in an unsolved problem. ...”
76 “Like doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and many others, I get my income from the necessities the tribulations, and the misfortunes of my fellow beings …”
117 Wolfe: “... It doesn’t please me to hurt a man needlessly, Mr. Hough.”

128-9

On self delusion: One of the brain’s most efficient departments is the one that turns possibilities into probabilities, and probabilities into facts.


24 The Final Deduction (1961) ***
Fast, light and shallow. A blackmail plot with twists. The sort of detective novel you want as pure escapism.

88 A dick [police detective] has enough grief dealing with the riff raff, and he would prefer to have no part of the Tedders and Vails [moneyed classes].
92-3 I have heard him [Wolfe] say that men who wear conventional clothes are sheep, but I’ve also heard him say that men who wear unconventional clothes are popinjays. You can’t win.


25 Gambit (1962) ****
A chess club and poisoned chocolate. The background research is sloppy on a subject I know, so research is probably weak elsewhere in the series. Still good reading.

31 “… I trust myself implicitly. Anyone else will do well to make certain of our understanding.
39 Guessing what a woman means is usually the shortest way, but guessing that one wrong would have been risky, so I asked, “What’s not what, Mrs Blount?”
26 Mother Hunt (1963) ****
A baby dumped on a doorstep.
Filmed for TV.

 

Archie on being handed a baby: “I’d better not, I haven’t read the instruction manual”.
This is only in the film; various additions and changes appear in the films in an apparent attempt to ‘modernise’ the stories.

10

“… but he’s [my lawyer] against my trying to find the mother. But that’s my business. His business is just law…Wolfe couldn’t have described his attitude to lawyers any better himself, with all his vocabulary…”

17

“Is he on TV?” Miss Foltz inquired.
“Don’t be silly,” Mrs. Dowd told her. “How could he be? He’s real.”

55

“… Only a damned fool has an opinion when he can’t back it up, and you know it …”

136

“…What comes next?”
“I don’t know.” He glowered at me. “Confound it, I am not lightning. I’ll consider it…”
Yet another caution against impulse and thoughtlessness.

137

“… No man with any sense assumes that a woman’s words mean to her exactly what they mean to him.”
A caution that sensibly goes much wider than that.

138 Archie, slightly uncomprehending: “… A genius can’t be bothered with just plain work like having somebody tailed. He has to do stunts. He has to take a short cut. Anybody can get a rabbit out of a hat, so he has to get a hat out of a rabbit …”


27 A Right to Die (1964) **
Black/White relationships, explorative of topic, well organized but often trite.

41 On being asked what he thinks, Wolfe: “I don’t think. I don’t know you”
The recurring central theme, don’t make assumptions!
65 ... a guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality ... [This comment also occurs in several other novels.]
95 “I’m alone in the world.” Wolfe: “At least you’re aware of it”
112 Wolfe to Archie: “You are not more human than I am. You are merely more susceptible, more sociable, and more vulnerable.”
135 On automation: “We would all be[come] parasites, living not on some other living organisms but on machines…”

28 The Doorbell Rang (1965/6) **** ½
Wolfe tangles with the FBI, good reading. By now Archie no longer smokes (p.38). Over the years, Cramer also stopped smoking cigars and started chewing on them! On p. 41, a plausible reason is given for identifying some visitors as FBI, but is clumsily faked in the TV film .
Filmed for TV.

10 “Afraid? I can dodge folly without backing into fear.”
23

… “I have a carbon, I said, and handed it to her. By gum she read it through. Well trained by her husband or by the lawyers after he died …”
The oft repeated prime directive, ‘never ever assume

33 “… Modern science was fixing it so that anybody can do anything but nobody can know what the hell is going on …”
40 Cramer on Wolfe and Archie’s self regard: “Balls. He wouldn’t know flattery if it had labels pasted all over it, and neither would you…”
41 “… there are various reasons for keeping your mouth shut, but the best one is that you have nothing to say.”
43 “… For another thing, I didn’t want to think hard on top, and when I walk the hard thinking, if any, is down where it doesn’t use words…”
A highly accurate and perceptive difference.
51 “… It says in Leviticus ‘Thou shalt not avenge’, but Aristotle wrote that revenge is just …”
68 “… Just so, our best efforts. The strongest obligation possible for a man with self-esteem …”
69 “…Genius is fine for the ignition spark, but to get there someone has to see that the radiator doesn’t leak and no tyre is flat …”
A first-class summary of human realities and co-operative endeavour.
79 Wolfe on the growing noise and pandemonium of New York: …“I have decided,” he said, “that that every man alive is half idiot and half hero. Only heroes could survive in the maelstrom and only idiots would want to.”
121

“… Incredible. Is there anything you couldn’t do?”
“He straightened up. Yes madam,” he said, “there is. I couldn’t put sense in a fool’s brain. I have tried. I could mention others …”



29 Death of a Doxy (1966) ***
Smoothly written, lightweight, complicated plot of blackmail of a captain of business by the husband of the sister of a concubine!
Filmed for TV.
35 Archie to Fritz: “How do you say in French ‘the brotherhood of man’?”
Fritz:
“There is no such thing in French.”
45 “When you decide to kill someone make damn sure he isn’t keeping a diary. Or she.”
90 “… we both knew exactly what men are for and what they’re not for…”.
A recurring comment in the books. Sometimes Archie also claims to know what women are for and what they are not for.
92 Said by Wolfe to one of the few women to take his attention, Julie Jacquette: “I had the impression that your opinions of our fellow beings and their qualities are somewhat similar to mine”.
129

Julie will not swear on the bible because “some of the men in it are awful, and so are the women. We’ll shake.”
This is a clear reference to Stout’s Quaker background and is also introduced low-key in other stories.
As put by
Sydney Carter on George Fox, the dissenter founder of the Quakers:
“Will you swear on the bible?” “I will not!” said he,
“For the truth is more holy than the book, to me.”

189 Inspector Cramer to Wolfe: “You told me yesterday that you didn’t know who fired them.”
“I didn’t. I still don’t.”
“That’s a goddam lie.”
“I lie only when I must. Now it isn’t necessary. [...]”


30 The Father Hunt (1968) ***
Competent and fluent. Daddy scarpered from rich family; and a neat little nest egg. The sins of the grandfather are visited unto the third generation.

43 Archie ’phones home. Wolfe, never one to waste effort on the superfluous merely answers, “Yes”. Archie, being more conventional, is somewhat miffed.
150 On responsibility: “My look out is my responsibility”
168 Wolfe: “… I am what I call tenacious and Mr. Goodwin calls pigheaded …”
186 “…Only fools tell lies that are vulnerable…”
31 Death of a Dude (1969) ****
Set in Montana.
34 “you’re not a good judge of your own thought, no one is”.
This is nonsense when applied to many specialists, but may apply to writers.
36 “… never absolutely sure whether she was playing dumb or actually was dumb.”
This is often a serious problem with people who behave foolishly.
58 “A dude out here is in about the same fix as a hippy in a Sunday school.”
61 “She knew from experience that if I knew something she should know, I had a tongue”.
To trust a person’s intelligence sufficiently to know they will tell you what you need to know. A form of optimism.
81 To Wolfe: “[I] was told, in effect, that your word is good but that anyone dealing with you should be sure he knows what your word is.”
Wolfe loves to play with words, he prides himself on precision of expression; at times, he uses that precision to say not one jot more than he intends.
83 Wolfe: “You might as well tell a man with no legs that you don’t challenge his right to walk. What I ask, what Mr. Goodwin and I expect, is active support of that right.”
86 “He’s an ass”, Wolfe growled. “There are no two people alive whose interests are identical”.
89 “But he admitted that everybody knows that if an elected person means everything he says he’s a damn’ fool … .”
100

“Well … I could make something up for that because you can’t see inside my skull either.”
And: “… you know how a woman’s mind works.” “I do not. No one does.”

102 “Yes, he’s qualified, but he’s biased. An ex parte judgment is always suspect”.
106 “I don’t do much gatherin’ from what a man says. Now if he said he saw a fourteen-inch Dolly Varden in the pool above the bend you might say he had been to the creek, but you got to figure maybe he did and maybe he didn’t.”
Never make assumptions.


32 Please Pass the Guilt (1973) **
Dull and drifting. A bomb in a bottom drawer.

152

“…My tendency to strut. Display like diffidence, is commendable only when it avails…”
Expressing an unusual cynicism.
155 “That’s what makes us a unique animal, we want to know why and try to find out …”
159

“… he once said that I ride words bareback…”
A hint of Stout striving to boast.

33 A Family Affair (1975) *
Last Nero Wolfe, Orrie as the killer; exploding cigars, tired.
47 “…It might be wondered what he was after, but I didn’t because I had learned long ago that wondering what a genius was after was a waste of time…”
95 “…Don’t do that”, he said. “Calling a statement an admission is one of the oldest and scrubbiest lawyers’ tricks, and you’re not a lawyer. I state it.”
126 “…I trust you up to a point; of course no man has complete trust in another, he merely thinks he has because he needs to and hopes to. And in this matter I trust only myself…”

 

other background information and quotes from McAleer

Lucetta was Rex Stout’s mother and John, his father.

p.28 Lucetta: “never praise or blame anyone, including yourself”

John is described as being subject to ungovernable outbursts of temper; this was a typical puritanical Victorian household.

p.29 Lucetta is described as distant or cold, but with common sense and management skills. She taught basic tolerance:“it’s hard enough to behave creditably yourself, without telling others what to do or not do”. She read much and gardened much, just like Wolfe. Her emotional distance and Puritanism appears to have left her children striving for approval; this is a behaviour that can drive hyper-achievement in some, and self-destructiveness in others. It tends also to lead to long-term unconfidence.

for an easy introduction to Nero Wolfe

TV series, 2003 & 2004

I have seen various attempts at putting Wolfe on screen and have mostly remained unimpressed; however, the latest attempt is much better managed. The series is even interesting artwork on its own merits: a combination of 30-50s scenery and modern art, with a large variety of track background music. Recommended for aesthetes and those of healthy curiosity. The titling is various and interesting, the accessories, especially the cars and the incredible wardrobes, add to the strength of the series.

The main parts are assigned to specific actors but the minor parts are played by what amounts to a repertory company, here is an example with Kari Matchett, one of the players. Even this works rather well, as the minor parts start to merge into the background with the old brownstone. The films may not rise to the level of Stout’s originals, films rarely do or can, that would be too much to cry for, but they make a damned good shot at it.

The second series I regard as even stronger than the first, and you have even more episodes. I look forward, optimistically, to a third season though currently there are hitches obtaining funding.

Two-hour and one-hour formats:
T he production company, A&E apparently insisted on the one-hour format, so all the novels were filmed as two-parters, while the short stories were single episodes. In the USA, the series were run as one-hour time slots. In Europe, they prefer two-hour slots, so the stories are sometimes shown two at a time. Furthermore, in Europe there are usually 2 minutes' fewer ads per hour. Therefore, Europeans see the novels in 2-hour movie formats, with an extra 2 minutes per hour of fill-in produced for the European market. Such are the pressures of modern TV production. The currently available DVDs are American-based.

There is no way that the films can match the complexity and detail of the books, but this is a very creditable option for those who no longer read! With several of the films, slight alterations are inserted, sometimes introducing anomalies, other times smoothing the abridgement required to squeeze the story into the time frames.

 

By the second series, the makers had obviously learnt a great deal and as you can see you get more for your money. Therefore, if you only wish to buy one set, take heed.

3 discs

Nero Wolfe: The Complete First Season (REGION 1) (NTSC), 2004, B00029NKS8
$44.99 [amazon.com]
amazon.co.uk

The Doorbell Rang
Champagne for One
Prisoner’s Base
Over my Dead Body
+ 4 short stories

 

5 discs

Nero Wolfe: The Complete Second Season (REGION 1) (NTSC), 2005, B0002MK61E
$48.97 [amazon.com]
amazon.co.uk

The Silent Speaker
Death of a Doxy
The Golden Spiders
Mother Hunt
Too Many Clients
+ 8 short stories
+bonus items


bibliography

by Rex Stout

edition from which quotes were taken edition available for purchase
[pbk unless noted otherwise]
1 Fer-de-Lance (1934) aka
‘Meet Nero Wolfe’ aka
‘Point of Death’
Bantam
1984 2nd printing, 0553249185

1992, 0553278193

$6.50 [amazon.com]

amazon.co.uk

2

The League of Frightened Men (1935)
aka ‘Frightened Men’

Bantam
1992 reissue,
0553259334

1995, 0553762982

$19.00 [amazon.com]

£10.91 [amazon.co.uk]

3 The Rubber Band aka
To Kill Again (1936)
Bantam
1992 reissue, 0553255509

1995, 0553763091

£8.32 [amazon.co.uk]

amazon.com

4 The Red Box aka
The Case of the Red Box (1937)
Bantam
1984 2nd printing, 0553249193

1992, 0553249193

amazon.com

-

5 Too Many Cooks (1938) Fontana No.2923
2nd impression 1978, 0006129234

1993, 0553763067

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

amazon.com

6

Some Buried Caesar aka
The Red Bull (1939)

Fontana N° 2780
1971 1st issue

1994, 0553254642

£3.73 [amazon.co.uk]

$6.50 [amazon.com]

7

Over my Dead Body (1940)

Panther N° 1796
Feb 1965 edition

1994, 0553231162

$5.99 [amazon.com]

amazon.co.uk

8

Where There’s A Will (1940)

Quotations:
Bantam 1992
0553295918
Photographs:
Farrar & Reinhart, Inc, 1940

0553295918

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

9 The Silent Speaker (1946/7) Penguin 1977
0140041699

0553234978

$5.99 [amazon.com]

amazon.co.uk

10 Too Many Women (1948) Fontana N°. 4223
1976 4th impression, 0006142230

0553250663

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

11

More Deaths Than One aka
And Be a Villain (1948-9)
(first Zeck novel)

Penguin
The First Rex Stout Omnibus
pp 313-478
1977 reprint, 0140040323

1994, 0553239317
And Be a Villain
£3.73
[amazon.com]

$6.50 [amazon.co.uk]

12

The Second Confession (1949) (second Zeck novel)

Penguin
The First Rex Stout Omnibus
pp 135-311
1977 reprint, 0140040323

1995, 0553245945

$5.99 [amazon.com]

amazon.co.uk

13

In the Best Families (1950) aka ‘Even in the Best Families’ (third Zeck novel)

Collins Crime Club
1980 reprint, 0002312190

1995, 0553277766

$6.50 [amazon.com]

amazon.co.uk

14

Murder by the Book (1952)

Penguin
1974, 014003806X

1995, 0553763113

$19.00 [amazon.com]

£10.91 [amazon.co.uk]

15 Prisoner’s Base aka Out Goes She (1953) Fontana N° 3431
1974 2nd impression as Out Goes She, 0006134319

1992, 0553242695

$6.50 [amazon.com]

£3.73 [amazon.co.uk]

16

The Golden Spiders (1953/4)

Fontana N° 5300
1978 3rd impression, 0006153003

1995, 0553277804

$6.50 [amazon.com]

£3.73 [amazon.co.uk]

17 The Black Mountain (1954) Penguin Bantam
1989, 0553272918

1993, 0553272918

amazon.co.uk

amazon.com

18 Before Midnight (1956) Fontana N° 2329
1972 3rd impression

1993, 0553763040

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

19 If  Death Ever Slept (1957) Fontana N° 5690 1979 4th impression, 0006156908

1995, 0553762966

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

20 Might as Well Be Dead (1957) Fontana N° 5822
1980 3rd impression, 0006158226

1995, 0553763032

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

21 Champagne for One (1959) Penguin
1978, 0140043462

1995, 0553244388
$6.50 [amazon.com]

1999, 0613133587
£8.62 hbk [amazon.co.uk]

22 Plot It Yourself aka Murder in Style (1959) Collins Crime Club Choice
1960 as Murder in Style

1995, 0553253638

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

23 Too Many Clients (1960) Fontana N° 5822
1973 3rd impression, 0006132081

1995, 0553254235,

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

24 The Final Deduction (1961) Fontana N° 3662
1974 2nd impression

1995, 0553763105

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

25 Gambit (1962) Panther N° 1905
1965, August

1985, 0553251724

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

26 Mother Hunt (1963) Fontana N° 1184
1966

1993, 0553247379

£3.73 [amazon.com]

$6.50 [amazon.co.uk]

27 A Right to Die (1964) Fontana N° 3430
1974 2nd impression

1994, 0553240323

£3.44 [amazon.com]

$5.99 [amazon.co.uk]

28 The Doorbell Rang (1965/6) Penguin
The First Rex Stout Omnibus
pp 7-133,
1977 reprint, 0140040323

1992, 0553237217

$6.50 [amazon.com]

£3.73 [amazon.co.uk]

29 Death of a Doxy (1966) Fontana N° 3889
1980 3rd impression,
0006138896

1995, 0553276069

$6.50 [amazon.com]

£3.73 [amazon.co.uk]

30 The Father Hunt (1968) Fontana N° 5396
1978 2nd impression, 0006153968

1995, 0553762974

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

31 Death of a Dude (1969)

Fontana N° 3661
1976 3rd impression
0006136613

1999, 0553762958

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

32 Please Pass the Guilt (1973) Fontana N° 3668
1975, 0006136680

1995, 0553763083

$15.00 [amazon.com]

£8.62 [amazon.co.uk]

33 A Family Affair (1975) Fontana N° 4339
1977, 0006143393

n.d., 0553026143
amazon.com

1977, 0006143393
amazon.co.uk


Other books

quoted edition  
John McAleer, Rex Stout, a Majesty’s Life,
James A. Rock & Co, 1977,
0918736439 hbk, 0918736447 pbk
over 600 pages
2002 James A. Rock & Company Publishers,
2002, Millennium edition
0918736447, pbk
$30.95 [amazon.com]
£16.99 [amazon.co.uk]

Rex Stout and the editors of the Viking Press, The Nero Wolfe Cookbook,
Penguin Books, 1973 US, 1981 UK,
0140057544 pbk

Contains large numbers of recipes named in the Nero Wolfe books.

-

Cumberland House Publishing , 1996, pbk
1888952245

$11.53 [amazon.com]


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end notes

1 Interestingly to me, Isaac Asimov shows the reverse behaviour.
2 McAleer, p.229
3 The presented Wolfe/Stout/Archie attitude to women is often in awe and defensively flippant but many of the female characters are in fact represented as exaggerated paragons.
4 Stout was fit and spry, and nothing like excessive in weight.
5 Nero Wolfe is characterised as having originated in Montenegro (also known as Monte Negro), as reflected in his name, Nero/Negro/black
6

Left top: Wednesday 9am, May Hawthorne showing crows shot the day before by Noel Hawthorne, which Titus Ames had just found in a meadow.
Right top: Wednesday 9am, Daisy on the terrace, wearing a veil.
Left middle: Tuesday shortly after 6pm, Glenn Prescott waits to take Sara to the country in his car.
Right middle: Tuesday about 3pm, Park Avenue with acquaintaince of Sara's Uncle Noel meeting Eugene Davis, Glenn Prescott's partner.
Left bottom: Wednesday before 9am, near the spot where Noel “met his death”, with Sara’s father, brother and Osric Stauffer.
Right bottom: Friday afternoon, in Nero Wolfe's office.

The correct time order for the photos would be Right middle, Left middle, Left bottom, Left top, Right top, Right bottom.

7 The buttonhole flower (a rosa setigera) worn by Glenn Prescott could not have originated from a New York City florist. [p.269 - 271, 1940 edition]
8

While it is of little concern to me in this document, Rex Stout’s continuity throughout the Nero Wolfe series is pretty grim, hence the illustrations must remain rather vague. Anyway, chasing this would be a nice job for a dedicated fan sometime.

For example, Wolfe is quoted as living at 918 [Red box, p.88], 506 [Over my dead body, p.104], 618 [??], and I think other street numbers in West 35th Street. The sun rises behind Nero’s house, which places the house on the north side of the street. The house is “less than a block from the Hudson River” [Fer-de-lance, p.12]. The brownstone is located between 10th and 11th Avenue. The house actually seems to move across the road part-way through The league of frightened men.

Fritz starts off with his bedroom on the roof [Fer-de-lance], and rematerialises in the basement in later books.

In Out goes she p.14, Nero Wolfe is described as being “four thousand ounces”. This is 250 pounds, an eighth of a short ton (2000 pounds), instead of his normal one-seventh of a ton (about 286 lb). I sometimes wonder about Rex Stout’s claim to have been a child-prodigy calculator.

Rex Stout lived for some years in brownstones, mostly north of Central Park. Nero Wolfe lived south of the Park.

9 A contact sheet is a photographic print made from negatives (film) that is in actually contact with the photographic paper, light being shined through the film onto the light-reactive paper. The result is a set of photos that are the same size as the film. Enlargements are photographs printed by the image being projected onto the paper from an enlarger.



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© abelard, 2005, 21 november

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the address for this document is http://www.abelard.org/nero_wolfe.php

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Wednesday  9am, May Hawthorne showing crows shot the day before by Noel Hawthorne, which Titus Ames had just found in a meadow Wednesday  9am, Daisy on the terrace, wearing a veil. Tuesday shortly after 6pm, Glenn Prescott waits to take Sara to the country in his car. Tuesday about 3pm, Park Avenue with  acquaintaince of Sara's Uncle Noel meeting Eugene Davis, Glenn Prescott's partner. Wednesday before 9am, near the spot where Noel “met his death”, with Sara’s father, brother and Osric Stauffer. Friday afternoon, in Nero Wolfe's office.