Rex Stout – Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin

Long ago I discovered this marvelous set of mystery stories written by Rex Stout. My parents had a few paperback copies lieing around and I gobbled them up. “Gobble” being a good word to associate with the heavyweight but non-peripatetic Wolfe, a gourmand, a raiser of orchids, and a genius who occasionally solved crimes for a fee. Archie Goodwin was from the mid-west but operated perfectly as Wolfe’s legman principally in Manhattan. Goodwin went out and detected and operated as a human tape recorder, remembering verbatim conversations involving many people. He would return to the brownstone residence/office of Wolfe and replay the conversation. He also was kept on by Wolfe as a personal goad. To goad Wolfe in to taking work when income was needed. Also to goad the police. To escort and beguile young women involved in cases. Archie was the narrative voice of the series of books. He and I share the same birthday in the autumn. For a long time I wished that I would grow up to be just like him. Brave, smart, funny, and honest.

Stout began the series in the depression years and continued it into the 1960s or was it the 70s. Right now a stack of copies of his stories are in a place of honour on my library shelf. Some are falling to pieces, acidic pulp pages, tattered copies that have been read and reread many, many times. I am considering going on a summer long expedition to get a complete set of these old treasures.