Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Nero Wolfe

Now that we're all done with Thanksgiving dinner and preparing to tuck into leftovers today, I'd thought I'd choose a book that celebrates food along with a really good mystery.

Enter Nero Wolfe. Fifty-six-year-old (a fact you may have not known!) overweight detective genius from Montenegro (although his birthplace was changed to the U.S. for one book)who liked good food (especialy shad roe), beer (about 6 quarts a day), orchids and his luxurious brownstone on West 35th Street in New York City. Wolfe employed:

Archie Goodwin--Nero's "legman", a PI who can recite verbatim entire conversations. He does the bulk of the investigating (because Wolfe doesn't like to leave home) and drinks a lot of milk. He's also responsible for mundane office tasks, like opening the mail. Archie lives rent-free at the brownstone.

Fritz Brenner--Nero's talented Swiss cook

Theodore Horstmann--an orchid expert who lives on the roof of the brownstone who helps Nero daily with his plants from 9:00-11 am and 4:00-6:00 pm.

There are also three private eyes that Wolfe hires to help out: Saul Panzer, Fred Durkin, Orrie Cather. And remember Lon Cohen, the reporter?

And Nero is soooo eccentric with his yellow pyjamas, his inflexible schedule, his dislike of women, the way he closes his eyes and pushes his lips in and out when thinking.

Just typing these names and bits of description brings back so many fond memories for me. There wasn't a Nero Wolfe mystery I didn't enjoy. Not one. From the first one, Fer-de-Lance (1934), to the last, Death Times Three (1977).

Rex Stout wrote 33 Nero Wolfe books and 39 short stories. Journalist Robert Goldsborough wrote seven Wolfe books after Stout's death.

Oh, I am homesick for a Nero Wolfe. I'll have to re-read one. I've never read one of Golsborough mysteries. Perhaps I should do that. And I think I might ask for The Nero Wolfe Cookbook (it has 237 recipes!) for Christmas. It was also written by Rex Stout.

And I leave you with a super quotation:

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."~~Ray Bradbury

Please pop over to Patti Abbott at pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books. It's always a fantastic line-up.



  1. Wolfe is the perfect detective to consider after Thanksgiving! My favorite book (I've read about fifteen) is 1939's Some Buried Caesar where he has an amusing encounter with a bull in an open field.

  2. I read Fer-de-Lance earlier this year and, well, wasn't swept off my feet. However, I think it was because I expected a different kind of book. I'm going to give Wolfe another go, however. We'll see what happens.

  3. I like that - birthplace changed for one book. LOL

  4. I loved these stories. Will have to dig one up and read again. Thanks Barrie for reminding me!

  5. By all means, try the Goldsborough books. While not Stout, they do capture the spirit of Wolfe and Goodwin nicely.

  6. ray bradbury sure has a way with words...

  7. It's been too long since I read anything Nero Wolfish. I did enjoy Koontz's riff on Wolfe in one of the Odd Thomas books.

  8. i enjoyed all the wolfe books i've read, too, began reading em as a youngster

    will see if i can find that cookbook, tho i should be losing weight, not packing it on :O lol

  9. I aven't read Nero Wolfe in years. I was sad when I finished the series and learned that Rex Stout was dead...

  10. I adore the Nero Wolfe books and I loved Robert Goldsborough's additions as well. He is a tremendous writer.

    For those of you not familiar, Robert has a new series, one of his own, that I have the honor of publishing. You can find more info on the "Snap Malek" mysteries at and Robert is part of a blog that is at

    He loves to hear from readers.

    Karen Syed

  11. The cookbook sounds interesting. I read Nero Wolfe stories when younger and enjoyed them then. I think its time to revisit them. Thanks, Barrie, for an interesting post.

  12. You make me want to try Nero Wolf.
    However W.35st would not be prime residential real estate now.
    And CONGRATULATIONS on you book below.
    You must be thrilled.

  13. come on over. I left you a little something in my post.
    Red rover, red rover, send Barrie right over.


Comments are always welcome!